Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Fountain of Lamneth (1975) by Rush - a twenty minute journey through life

The now legendary hard rock / progressive rock band Rush was beginning to taste real success in 1975. Initially though of as the "Canadian Led Zeppelin" - mostly due to their unorthodox approach to songwriting, hard rock roots, and wailing, high-pitched vocals, the perennial power trio took up the difficult task of penning a very progressive, concept-rich third album, intended to be their big breakthrough. Things would not work out so well- at least not yet.

"Caress of Steel" was meant to be their big progressive rock breakthrough- fueled by virtuoso level playing by all three members, and the highly unusual lyrics by drummer Neil Peart. Peart was a voracious reader, and his lyrics reflected his literary preferences for science fiction, fantasy, objectivist philosophy, and poetry. The vast majority of the album was written while actively touring in support of their second album "Fly by Night" as the opening act for the popular band "Kiss".

In the documentary "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage" - members of the band state that one of the first people to hear the finished version of "Caress of Steel" was Kiss' lead singer Paul Stanley. According to guitarist Alex Lifeson - "...we played it in our van for him one night. You could see he just... he didn't get it. A lot of people didn't get it. We wondered if we even got it."

Bassist Geddy Lee has also said "I think we were  pretty high when we made a lot of that record, and it sounds like it to me." in the same documentary. Neil Peart also related that the reaction was a huge disappointment for them "Everything took an awful downturn, it was off the crest of a wave too, because we were so in love with what we'd done. You know, we were so into it and so proud of it. When Caress of Steel pretty much met a deaf ear- the ensuing tour, we were opening acts on smaller tours and playing backwater clubs, we called it, at the time, the Down the Tubes Tour."

That reaction would prove prophetic. Album sales were weak- indicating that a lot of people "didn't get it" Their record company was very unhappy with the outcome, so the supporting tour was mostly small venues- and is generally regarded as the lowest point in the band's storied history - they began to wonder if their careers were coming to a close.

The centerpiece of the album is the twenty minute epic "The Fountain of Lamneth" - the piece shows that a large amount of thought was put into the album- and on many levels is a great artistic achievement. At the same time, I think it is also the key to the album's lukewarm reception. In my opinion, the piece represents a huge change in direction and tone that alienated many of the band's previous listeners- mostly young, mostly male hard rock fans that were neither ready for, nor interested in a heady concept piece that explored a softer sound than they were expecting. After a year of touring with Kiss, their fan-base mirrored that of Kiss- people who liked straightforward hard rock backed by a dynamic, larger-than-life stage show. While Rush's previous effort, "Fly by Night" was not the best fit for this group of fans, they were impressed by Rush's hard rock sensibility, and sheer talent. The sudden mutation of that hard rock sensibility and headlong dive into conceptual "art" music, such as "The Fountain of Lamneth" was a sudden left turn that left many fans behind.

The song is actually structured as a series of standalone pieces rather than a through-composed piece with planned segues between each section. One piece fades out, and the next fades in. This is a bit of an oddity- I think the overall work would have been more digestible if it were either through-composed, or presented more obviously as a cycle of songs tied together by their unifying theme. The overarching theme that unifies the piece is a journey through life starting "in the valley" and progressing towards "the mountain" and the nebulous goal represented by "the Fountain of Lamneth" that resides atop the mountain. The song also has an overarching theme that can be interpreted as either reincarnation, or the passing on of ideas and goals to a new generation. The title does not seem to contain a specific literary or pop culture reference aside from it's obvious similarity to the idea of the mythical "fountain of youth."

Part I - In the Valley

Part one of the piece is titled "In the Valley." The section begins with a quiet acoustic guitar with Geddy Lee singing a soft introduction:


I am born
I am me
I am new
I am free
Look at me
I am young
Sight unseen
Life unsung

The lyrics here state the intended ideas clearly - the beginning of a life- being newly born without preconceptions, and starting our journey through life.

The intro moves into a harder edged guitar driven riff, in Rush's more familiar, Led Zeppelin inspired sound and character - the rest of "In the Valley" maintains this mood- one familiar to fans of the time. The lyrics continue with the idea of a newborn coming into and discovering the world for the first time, and sets the stage for the rest of our nineteen minute journey through life.

My eyes have just been opened
And they're open very wide
Images around me
Don't identify inside
Just one blur I recognize
The one that soothes and feeds
My way of life is easy
And as simple are my needs

The first set of lyrics should seem familiar to anyone who has spent time around a newborn child. When a baby opens it's eyes for the first time, they typically see blurry images that they are not yet able to interpret in any meaningful way. One of the first things they begin to recognize is the face of their mother "The one who soothes an feeds" - identifying that image as the source for food and comfort is how just about every human being begins to understand their environment.

Yet my eyes are drawn toward
The mountain in the east
Fascinates and captivates
Gives my heart no peace
The mountain holds the sunrise
In the prison of the night
'Til bursting forth from rocky chains
The valley floods with light

The chorus introduces the motivation for the rest of the song cycle with "the mountain in the east" that "fascinates and captivates" - implying that even in the earliest stages of life, the seeds for the hopes and dreams that will drive us begin to take hold. The verse also uses the image of a sunrise- typically representing a beginning. A sunrise can also represent an awakening or revelation as "the valley floods with light" the world around us is revealed, and illuminates things we have not seen before. The overarching story traces a path from this "valley" to "the mountain in the east" where the sun rises. While it is clearly a path through life from beginning to end, the image of the sunrise coupled with that of an ultimate goal at "the mountain" implies that the journey moves forward to it's own beginning- this idea will be make more sense at the end of this analysis- so keep it in the back of your mind as you continue to read.

Living one long sunrise
For to me all things are new
I've never watched the sky grow pale
Or strolled through fields of dew
I do not know of dust to dust
I live from breath to breath
I live to climb that mountain
To the Fountain of Lamneth

This next verse speaks of an outlook on life we normally associate with the young- the idea that everything is new, the lack of knowledge and/or fear of a (usually) distant end in death "I do not know of dust to dust," and the general approach of living in the moment "I live from breath to breath." Even here in this time of innocence, something tugs at us and inspires us to move forward to a goal we do not necessarily understand "I live to climb that mountain" - and we introduce the allusion to the fountain of youth "To the Fountain of Lamneth."

The image of "a mountain in the east" also contains a thinly veiled literary reference to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy- which, to an extent, parallels similar references made by one of Rush's major influences of their early days- Led Zeppelin. In Tolkien's world, "the east" is home to the trilogy's powerful villain- and is the ultimate goal of the main character's quest- to face death in the east in their attempt to save their civilization. This reference foreshadows the inevitable and of any life journey- in death. This end, however, is still very distant, and while the thought of death may already have been introduced, youthful innocence allows us to ignore or dismiss it.

Part II - Didacts and Narpets

Part two of the piece is titles "Didacts and Narpets" - and is composed mainly of a drum solo, with interjections by the guitar and bass that accent the spoken/shouted lyrics. The solo is at an almost frantic pace, and gives a tone of conflict. The title is the key to understanding how this section of the work fits with into the whole. Drummer/Lyricist Neil Peart explained the meaning himself in a 1991 news release to the "Rush Backstage Club" in the quote "Okay, I may have answered this before, but if not, the shouted words in that song represent an argument between Our Hero and the Didacts and Narpets - teachers and parents. I honestly can't remember what the actual words were, but they took up opposite positions like: 'Work! Live! Earn! Give!' and like that." In support of this, the word "didact" means teacher, and the made-up word "narpets" is an anagram for the word "parents" - so this part of the song cycle represents an argument or conflict with the most prevalent authority figures of our childhood and teenage years- our teachers and our parents.

Stay! Go!
Work! No!
Learn! Live!
Earn! Give!
Stay or fight? What's right?
Listen!

"Diacts and Narpets" is clearly more than just a drum solo with strange voices shouting over it when viewed from this perspective. It represents the later stages of childhood when we live in a world dominated by the rules given to us by our parents, and laid down by our teachers. We gain knowledge and understanding, but at the same time gain the confidence and insight to form our own opinions, and stand up for our own beliefs. We may also lack the experience needed to know when we are wrong, or to deal effectively with people who have different opinions. This phase of life naturally brings a tendency to rebel against authority as we learn to follow our own path rather than one dictated by someone else. These factors lead to an inevitable conflict of interests such as the one depicted here.

Part III - No One at the Bridge

"No One at the Bridge" moves on to the next stage of the allegorical journey through life- it uses nautical imagery to depict the trials and tribulations of young adulthood, and the feelings of helplessness that often accompany our first experiences as independent adults. Musically, the piece is dark and brooding- capturing a feel of impending doom. As the song progresses, the music intensifies as the lyrics depict progressively greater levels of distress and desperation. The song ends with a mournful guitar solo that also captures the spirit of this dark phase in life- alternately soaring, and brooding.

Crying back to consciousness
The coldness grips my skin
The sky is pitching violently
Drawn by shrieking winds
Seaspray blurs my vision
Waves roll by so fast
Save my ship of freedom
I'm lashed helpless to the mast

The first verse paints a picture of a stormy, troubled sea- representing the pitfalls and troubles we begin to face as we become independent. This is a point in life when we first take control of our own destinies, but, as most of us quickly learn, life is more like a dangerous storm at sea- throwing troubles at us that make it hard to predict what is coming next "seaspray blurs my vision" and we begin to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of responsibility "waves roll by so fast" to the point of being paralyzed with helplessness "I'm lashed helpless to the mast."

Remembering when first I held
The wheel in my own hands
I took the helm so eagerly
And sailed for distant lands
But now the sea's too heavy
And I just...I just don't understand
Why must my crew desert me?
When I need...I need a guiding hand...

When we first strike out on our own, there is a great sense of relief that we are finally the masters of our own lives- no more "diacts and narpets" to tell us no! We often begin this part of our lives with a great sense of adventure and wanderlust "I took the helm so eagerly," and dive into life with little regard for danger, often going places and doing things far removed from our previous experiences "and sailed for distant lands." All too often life throws us problems that we are not prepared to deal with "but now the sea's too heavy, and I just... I just don't understand" - and we falter. Life may teach us tough lessons in this stage, the people that were always there to support and help us (those diacts and narpets again) may no longer be there to pick us up when we fall or give us advice, and we may feel abandoned "why must my crew desert me? when I need... I need a guiding hand," or even betrayed as we reach out for help - tied down and adrift in a sea of troubles we do not know how to address. This is the "sink or swim" period of our life.

Call out for direction
And there's no one there to steer
Shout out for salvation
But there's no one there to hear
Cry out supplication
For the maelstrom is near
Scream out desperation
But no one cares to hear

This is one of life's most difficult lessons- that independence, while it seems to be something we can't wait to achieve, also means having to face difficulties independently- even if they are completely overwhelming, and we are completely unprepared to handle them. We can call out for help, but independence also means that no one else is obliged to help you "but there's no one there to hear" - since they are usually facing their own problems. We may grow desperate, and resent the very independence we once craved- and face the classic saying "be careful what you wish for, you may get it" - that independence means facing danger with no guarantee of help "scream out desperation, but no one cares to hear."

As a standalone song, I feel that "No One at the Bridge" is the strongest work in the entire piece. Other sections may feel more connected to the overarching concept, but this one stands out when each piece is considered a separate entity. While it is poetic in nature, and relies heavily on symbolism, the symbols and images depicted are very clear and easy to relate to, and are complemented perfectly by the brooding mood swings of the music that goes with the words.

Part IV - Panacea

Panacea is presented as a love song- primarily driven by acoustic guitar and a more mellow, cleaner electric guitar sound than we've heard since the intro to part I. The song picks up the loose narrative where "No One at the Bridge" leaves off.

The whiteness of confusion
Is unfolding from my mind
I stare around in wonder
Have I left my life behind?

The first part of the opening verse seems to depict the aftermath of the troubles from part III - "the whiteness of confusion" seems to refer back to the line "Seaspray blurs my vision." The calm nature of the music seems to indicate a peaceful lull- perhaps the "ship" from part III was wrecked, and we are in the calm after the storm. It often seems the same way in life after facing a major life shaking problem- successfully or not, what comes next seems calm and comforting in comparison- perhaps from wisdom gained from our past troubles. That same calm may come with a nagging feeling that we've lost our way, and are no longer on the path we once chose "have I left my life behind?"

I catch the scent of ambergris
And turn my head, surprised
My gaze is caught and held and I
Am helpless...mesmerized

As often happens in life, things that can alter your path come as a surprise. "I catch the scent of ambergris" - Ambergris is a fragrant substance produced by whales (continuing the nautical motif), that was once commonly used in high-end cosmetics. Often, a lifelong relationship can start with a single gaze returned from across a room "my gaze is caught and held and I, am helpless...mesmerized." We may struggle to find ourselves as young adults for success, for love, or other goals like a battered ship tossed in a stormy sea, but we often find what we're looking for when we least expect it- when we think we are at our most lost and alone, in the aftermath of some bad event- perhaps we've given up trying. These are the times when love has a way of finding us, and our lives are changed as we enter the next phase of life, and consider settling down, starting a family, and planting our roots.

Panacea, liquid grace
Oh let me touch your fragile face
Enchantment falls around me
And I know I cannot leave

The word "panacea" has it's origins in ancient Greek mythology- Panacea was the goddess of healing and recuperation. The word has entered the English language, and is used to refer to a medicine that cures any injury or illness. This implies the the blossoming love depicted here is the comfort and cure we've been seeking, and have been denied since our time with our didacts and narpets. This comfort is so compelling that we are drawn into it seemingly not by choice "enchantment falls around me" and overtakes us no matter how much we may want to continue our youthful wandering "and I know I cannot leave."

Here's a meaning for my life
A shelter from the storm
Pacify my troubles with
Her body, soft and warm

We feel a sense of belonging that we've been missing for our entire adult life "here's a meaning for my life." There is peace and solace- perhaps a reward for our earlier trials and tribulations.

Naked in our unity
A smile for every tear
Gentle hands that promise me
Comfort through the years

The allusion to Greek mythology also brings to mind Homer's "Odyssey" - specifically the portion where Odysseus' quest to return home across a perilous sea is interrupted by the nymph Calypso. Calypso imprisoned him as her lover for seven years- his journey towards his ultimate goal derailed (at least temporarily) for love (at least in the figurative sense).

Yet I know I must be gone
Before the light of dawn

A long-reaching, compelling goal (the Fountain) can still wear away at us. A lifelong resolve to reach a goal or destination is a powerful force, that can nag at us even when we are at our most comfortable. In Homer's Odyssey- Odysseus chafed against Calypso's advances- his quest was more important than love or lust.

Panacea, passion pure
I can't resist your gentle lure
My heart will lie beside you
And my wandering body grieves

Here it is unclear if the protagonist in our song cycle has chosen to stay, or to travel on, but it is clear that there are conflicting desires here "My heart will lie beside you, and my wandering body grieves." Perhaps this means he's moved on, and "my wandering body grieves" refers to regret over leaving a situation of comfort and happiness- or perhaps it is regret for abandoning his wanderlust.

Part V - Bacchus Plateau

"Bacchus Plateau" is a mid tempo piece with a soft rock feel that centers musically around a simple guitar riff that interplays with a more intricate bass line in an almost playful manner. The song represents a move into old age- where we are more set in our ways, and are usually living out our lives contentedly- at a plateau- even and steady but not really advancing. "Bacchus" is another mythology reference- the Roman God of wine and revelry. Old age may typically be more low key- but it is typically a time in our life when we have completed our more active labors, and we "revel" in our retirement and end of some the more difficult responsibilities of our lives- something we probably celebrate in some way.

Another endless day
Silhouettes of grey
Another glass of wine
Drink with eyes that shine
To days without that chill at morning
Long nights time out of mind

Days may seem to meld together as we drift through the rest of our lives. We've left the excitements of our earlier lives behind, and are resigned to lazy days "another endless day, silhouettes of grey" and simple pleasures "another glass of wine."


Draw another goblet
From the cask of '43
Crimson misty memory
Hazy glimpse of me
Give me back my wonder
I've something more to give
I guess it doesn't matter
There's not much more to live

From time to time, the passage of endless days may be interrupted by fond memories of our glory days that are no longer as clear as they once were thanks to the effects of time and age- "crimson misty memories, hazy glimpse of me." This comes with the occasional desire to recapture the sense of adventure and purpose of youth "give me back my wonder, I've something more to give." The ravages of time on this resolve, however, seem to take a heavy toll, and we once again feel resigned to our fate - "I guess it doesn't matter" and we begin to come to grips with out own mortality and understand that our life is coasting towards it's inevitable end- "There's not much more to live."

Another foggy dawn
The mountain almost gone
Another doubtful fear
The road is not so clear
My soul grows ever weary
And the end is ever near

As we progress through our old age, we realize that we are close to the end of our journey "the mountain almost gone" - and we may fear for ever reaching our elusive Fountain, or doubt that we still have the capacity to complete the journey "another doubtful fear, the road is not so clear." As the journey nears it's end, the weight of the world wears us down "my soul grows ever weary, and the end is ever near." This allusion draws another parallel to Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" - as the hero of that story approaches his goal, he feels increasingly weighed down, to the point where he can barely move without help, much like a person in old age who's health is beginning to falter.


Part VI - The Fountain

The journey comes to end with "The Fountain" and the goal is revealed. Remember the seemingly odd and out of place idea that the goal is a beginning? Read on and you will begin to understand.

Musically, "The Fountain" is a reprise of "In the Valley" with one main difference (aside from the lyrics)- here the quiet, acoustic intro is skipped, and we go right into the harder edged main theme. The quiet intro is not completely removed though- it is instead used as the ending to the song cycle.

Look! The mist is rising
And the sun is peaking through
See the steps grow lighter
As I reach their final few
Hear the dancing waters
I must be drawing near
Feel, my heart is pounding
With embattled hope and fear

Here, the fog of age seems to lift - "look! the mist is rising" - in spite of adversity, in spite of pleasant distractions taking us off course, and despite of the weariness and indifference of old age, we draw close to the elusive Fountain. Whatever end that proves to be is something both to be happy for, and afraid of- "with embattled hope and fear"

Now, at last I fall before
The Fountain of Lamneth
I thought I would be singing
But I'm tired...out of breath
Many journeys end here
But, the secret's told the same
Life is just a candle and a dream
Must give it flame

The above phrase holds the secret- we have arrived at the fountain- in the beginning we thought it would be a moment of triumph, but instead it is a moment of exhaustion- "I thought I would be singing, but I'm tired... out of breath." Now that we can see the goal, it is revealed that this is something many people have achieved- "many journeys end here, but the secret's told the same."

The last phrases of this passage are the most important, and most powerful of the entire song cycle- "Life is just a candle and a dream, must give it flame." The fountain is not a real place, or a real goal in itself- it is a realization into the nature and purpose of life. That life itself is not the important part- the important part is to act as a steward for the "flame" that is that kernel of a dream or inspiration that set us on this path when we were very young. The flame is the thing that really holds life- we are only the candle that carries it. It is only natural that the journey should end at the fountain, and this realization, even though the quest seemed abandoned, forgotten, and out of reach. The fountain represents the realization at the end of life that the ideas and dreams we carry through that life are a life unto their own that are larger and more far reaching than any mere mortal shell can be. The fountain is the moment of death, made meaningful by achieving this moment of enlightenment. Like the flame of any candle, this greater life can survive after the candle is gone, by being passed to another candle, or igniting other fuel. That is the purpose of the quest- not to reach a destination (the end is death, you will end up there in any case) but to make the journey, and keep the flame alive to pass it's light and warmth to others.

The key, the end, the answer
Stripped of their disguise
Still it's all confusion
And tears spring to my eyes
Though I've reached a signpost
It's really not the end
Like Old Sol behind the mountain
I'll be coming up again

Here the end comes- but the moment of enlightenment means that this end is yet another beginning- "it's really not the end." Remember the lyrics of "In the Valley" - the image of sunrise over a mountain in the east- here we become "like Old Sol behind the mountain" - perhaps in this moment, the "flame" becomes the next sunrise that shines down on a new life, and ignites in it the spark to reach the mountain- the dream and the idea live on in those touched by the new sunrise in an analog for reincarnation- "I'll be coming up again."

I'm in motion
I am still
I am crying
I am...still
I'm together
I'm apart
I'm forever
At the start

Still...I am

The music segues into the quiet acoustic guitar figure heard at the very beginning of this tale. The lyrics outline the transition from life into death "I'm in motion, I am still." In death, motion stops, and do not ever "go" anywhere again, but we've become the start of a new journey- or at least our transcendent dream has "I'm forever, at the start." In that respect, we still exist past death in the way we inspire others, and impart some portion of our dreams and desires into them.  "Still... I am"

The song ends with a guitar chord that fades in, then sharply fades out- which mimics the doppler effect and gives the impression of something moving on past you at high speed- perhaps the soul of our protagonist moving out of this life (and back to a new beginning).

The reprise of music from the very beginning of the song cycle supports this figurative reincarnation idea. We've reached the goal, and musically, it sounds exactly like the beginning of our journey. Modern technology allows us to test how well this cyclical theory holds- if you have the song on cd or as an audio file, load it into your favorite player, and set it to repeat. It somehow seems fitting when you get to the ending, then hear the same acoustic guitar part start again paired with the "birth" lyrics of "In the Valley" The ending is meant to be the musical "top of the mountain" - beyond it naturally, is a new valley that leads up to another mountain.

So all this lengthy discussion of "The Fountain of Lamneth" brings us, again, back to the beginning. With this much effort and care put into it's construction, why was the entire album such a relative failure?

Personally, I think it has more to do with the rapid change in direction. A twenty minute epic is not an easy pill to swallow- especially when it spends more time with softer, calmer tones than the entire previous album did- coupled with the fact that the fan-base was primarily interested in more pulse-pounding music. Also add in the fact that "The Fountain of Lamneth" does not follow an obvious narrative like a conventional short story would. The narrative elements are there, but they are presented more as an epic poem than conventional prose- making the overarching story hard to follow for the casual listener. The breaks between each section of the song may also mislead the casual listener into confusion- are these separate songs, or are they supposed to be one unified piece?

Other outside factors contributed to the failure of "Caress of Steel" - the album is very uneven- the opening three songs are standard rock songs in the style of Led Zeppelin. While "Bastille Day" is the standout of the three, it's clear that the band's main focus was on the epic track- as a matter of fact- it's really two epic tracks. The album also contained "The Necromancer" - a twelve minute fantasy tale told in a more narrative, linear short-story format- making the album an even more difficult pill to swallow. The album was intended to be the next great progressive rock breakthrough, but in the end, came off as a mixed bag of material split between conventional rock, fantasy prose, and a massive epic poem. When viewed as a whole, it almost looks and sounds like a compilation of different bands- as if Rush went through all the stages of transformation from a conventional rock band to seasoned prog rockers over the course of the album's writing period.

Production problems only added to the confusion- the version of the album released on cassette tape (does anyone remember those things?) had the "Didacts and Narpets" switching positions with the song "I Think I'm Going Bald" leaving the tape and out-of-order mess. This was, supposedly, the work of the record company in an ill-conceived attempt to even out the length of both sides of the tape to limited wasted tape in production.

However, I still feel the "The Fountain of Lamneth" is a very under-appreciated piece of music. While I think it could flow a little better, and could have benefited from a less vague transition between "Panacea" and "Bacchus Plateau" - it is a well thought out, imaginative, and fascinating example of mid-seventies progressive rock, and a must listen. I am certain others will have differing interpretations of the piece- but this is not a bad thing- art is meant to have multiple meanings.

The failure of "Caress of Steel" to produce strong sales, and the poor critical reaction to it almost spelled the end for Rush - their record company was not happy with the sales figures at all. The album, released in 1975, only reached RIAA "Gold" status in 1993 - 18 years. They demanded that the band produce more conventional material on their next album- radio-friendly songs, no more sword and sorcery lyrics, short three minute songs aimed at putting a hit on the top 40 list, and other such things. This proved, however, to be a new beginning for the band- they ignored the record company demands- figuring that if they were going to go out, they might as well go out with a bang, and produced a follow up album "2112" that featured an even longer epic science fiction themed story. The record company changed their tune when "2112" proved to be the smashing success the band hoped to achieve with "Caress of Steel" - becoming one of the most iconic examples of progressive rock in the history of the genre, and paving the way for the band's amazing 35+ year run that still continues today with no end in sight yet.

6 comments:

  1. Fantastic analysis! The Fountain of Lamneth is one of the most beautiful works to me with the perfect mix of soft grace and dark imagery! I really enjoyed reading your interpretation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, it's probably one of the most underrated pieces of prog rock out there, it took me a long time to actually understand it, and I'm sure I don't have the whole picture, or the only possible interpretation.

      Delete
  2. It seems like each song speaks of "drugs" that a person takes throughout his life. Think about it: a mother's milk, wine, opiates. No One at the Bridge: taking an acid trip but your friends don't stick around.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fountain of Lamneth is one of my favorite songs by Rush. The imagery and meaning behind each verse almost puts me in the headspace of this person. Every time I listen to Part IV, all I can picture is an old man surrounded by his loved ones as he lies on his death bed. "The key, the end, the answer" verse always has me thinking about how that old man will finally know what happens when you pass. He's obviously overwhelmed with the thought of passing on, but at the same time he's finally given the answer to one of life's biggest questions. He's sad to leave every one he loves, but he now knows that, like the Old Sol', he too will be coming back again. This might be a very loose interpretation of it, but it's just how I've always perceived that scene.

    Oh and a great analysis as well. I was listening to the song as I was reading through this, and I would have to say that your explanation of each verse was amazing. Very well written and well executed. 10/10

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much, this post really helped me to "get" The Fountain of Lamneth :) And maybe the whole album.

    ReplyDelete