A Moving Picture of a Red Barchetta

Rush’s groundbreaking album, Moving Pictures, turned 40 yesterday. It’s hard to wrap my grey hairs around that. These songs have been a part of my life since I stubbornly crawled out of the womb. This music is the definition of timeless.

“Red Barchetta” is my favorite song on the album (“Limelight” a close second). Every time I hear those iconic opening harmonics, I’m instantly in a better place. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. It can be dead of winter but hearing this song makes me feel like I’m under a big, bright sun in the middle of summer, carefree and weightless. When Geddy Lee fires off his intro bass doodle, it’s impossible to contain the goosebumps.

It’s an excellent tune to turn up while losing yourself on an open road to “the blur of the landscape.” The fact that it’s about a car helps but doesn’t matter. It could be about red Crayola crayons, and it would have the same effect on me.

I love how it starts so subdued, so controlled. The buildup is what makes “Red Barchetta” so outstanding. Rush’s attention to structure and flow was always incredible, and this track is a superb example. When that hard-edged riff by Alex Lifeson hits, you’re on a rollercoaster ride you can’t get off (but wouldn’t want to anyway). Lifeson was an underrated guitarist 40 years ago, and he’s only become better since. I’ll never understand why his name doesn’t come up more in conversations about the greatest ax men of our time.

Neil Peart, of course, does his jaw-dropping Neil thing throughout the entire song. What else can you say about the guy? I’m positive he was from another planet. He was a master of his craft and put everything he had into songs like “Red Barchetta.” Peart once said he thought Moving Pictures was the best album Rush had done, and it’s hard to argue with that statement.

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