It’s been a while since I’ve written a music post so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint. A few weeks ago, a dear friend recommended I listen to a track from Rush’s 1978 album Hemispheres, entitled “The Trees” (I’ve always wanted to call someone a “dear” friend). When I finally got around to listening to it and perusing the lyrics I was really intrigued. Obviously the quality of the music itself is pretty subjective, but I thought it was great. What really stood out though, were the lyrics.
One of my favorite classic books is Animal Farm by George Orwell, which brilliantly communicated a broad political message through allegory. Rush does the same, only using trees instead of animals and doing it in four minutes and forty-five seconds instead of 141 pages. The band has denied any hidden meaning, explaining that the idea came from a silly comic book strip, but it’s pretty obvious they delivered a poignant message.
I don’t mind artists making political messages in their music, but if I don’t like it then I won’t listen to them anymore (e.g., Greenday). Below are the lyrics from Rush’s “The Trees,” and below them I’ve embedded a video with the music and lyrics. I’ll let you make up your own mind. What do you think?
There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.
The trouble with the maples,
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade.
There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream “Oppression!”
And the oaks just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
“The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light.”
Now there’s no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.
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