If you haven’t heard “The Trees” by Rush, then you are missing out on an epic composition, not to mention a compelling story told in just a few verses.
“The Trees” (from Rush’s 1978 album, Hemispheres) encompasses everything great about the legendary trio: dreamy instrumentals that smoothly transition from traditional pop/rock passages to heavier sections.. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart are all masters of their instruments, I shouldn’t even have to tell you that. The group’s secret weapon? Their intense devotion to writing, recording, and creating extraordinary synergy between their instruments on every song. There are plenty of subtle pieces in “The Trees” that make it flow with the storyline; it’s not just the individual bass, guitar, or drum parts but also the added effects: chirping birds in the acoustic intro; the line “the creatures all have fled,”; the quiet chirping reprise at the end. The auxiliary percussion and synth add an ebb and flow; in the same way that an argument doesn’t always maintain maximum tension, sometimes “the Trees” gets quiet, but that doesn’t mean its intensity is dimmed.
I won’t spoil the plot — if you’ve heard the song then you know it; if you haven’t, please go listen and look up the lyrics. The meaning of the struggle between the maples and oaks has been debated since the song was released over forty years ago. Each member of Rush likely has their own interpretation of the song, though they’ve never publicly shared it. It’s easy to draw lines in “The Trees” to anything you want; it’s a piece of art that was made to be interpreted how you like. The most common interpretations usually involve war, politics, or human rights. Personally, I want it to simply be about trees — even if that introduces conflict and drama to otherwise calm and peaceful forests.