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The Necromancer (song)

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The Necromancer (song)

"The Necromancer"
Song by Rush from the album Caress of Steel
Released September 1975
Recorded June–July 1975
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 12:30
Label Anthem Records (Canada)
Mercury Records
Writer Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson
Lyrics by Neil Peart
Producer Rush & Terry Brown
Caress of Steel track listing
"Lakeside Park"
(3)
"The Necromancer"
(4)
"The Fountain of Lamneth"
(5)
"The Necromancer: Return of the Prince"
Single by Rush
from the album
Caress of Steel
Released 1976
Recorded June–July 1975
Genre Progressive rock
Length 3:52
Rush singles chronology
"Making Memories"
(1975)
"The Necromancer: Return of the Prince"
(1976)
"Lakeside Park"
(1976)

The Necromancer is a song by Rush from their 1975 album Caress of Steel. It is the fourth-longest song recorded by the band, after "2112", "The Fountain of Lamneth", and "Hemispheres." The song is subtitled "A Short Story by Rush." It was one of Rush's first attempts at writing an epic progressive rock piece, along with "The Fountain of Lamneth." The two songs are often blamed for the commercial failure of Caress of Steel.

Part III, titled "Return of the Prince", was released as a single in some countries. No official live recordings of the song have been released, but it appears on a bootleg entitled "Rush: Caught In The Act," which was recorded with an 8mm video recorder on May 15, 1975 in Rochester, New York by an audience member. Progressive metal band Dream Theater, who have frequently cited Rush as one of their main influences, covered the song during the tour for their album Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

The song is heavily inspired by the high fantasy legendarium of author J.R.R. Tolkien. Many parallels can be drawn between the song's tale and the stories of Tolkien, and several references are made to characters and locations in Tolkien's stories. In particular, the title and antagonist of this song were inspired by a character in Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: the Necromancer (a pseudonym for Sauron), an evil entity who can reduce the living into specter form. In The Lord of the Rings, he is confronted by "three travelers": two Hobbits, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, and a creature tormented by the influence of Sauron's One Ring, Gollum.

However, the parallels with Tolkien are, at times, inexact. For example, three travelers do not confront Sauron at any point during the events of The Hobbit, when he was still residing in Mirkwood Forest as the Necromancer. Also, in The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is unaware of the trio's approach until it is too late to stop them. In this song, the Necromancer is aware of the three travelers' presence as soon as they set foot on his lands; it is only the arrival of the character By-Tor that frees them from the terror of the Necromancer. Also, the three travelers in this song are "men of Willow Dale." This is a reference to the band itself, and an allusion to Willowdale, the suburb in Toronto where two of the three members of Rush (Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson) grew up. Neil Peart is from Port Dalhousie, Ontario, which is now part of St. Catharines.[1]

The song has three parts:

"Into Darkness": In the first section of the song, we are introduced to the protagonists, three travelers who, "Fording the River Dawn," journey "into the dark and forbidding lands of the Necromancer", who is the incarnation of evil and oppression. Even at the beginning of their journey, "the intensity of his dread power can be felt"; this is reflected by the dark and brooding nature of the music. Subsequently, there is much foreshadowing of the inevitable doom awaiting the three travelers under the shroud of the Necromancer. As mentioned earlier, the three travelers are stand-ins for the three members of the band. In the old quest tales, travelers were generally restless and searching for a goal; so were Rush, who were always on tour. Having characters ford a river was a plot device often used in old stories to show a decisive stage in a journey. "Fording a river" was actually the original lyric Neil Peart wrote for this section, omitting "Dawn" altogether.[1] The spoken word introduction to this section was performed by Neil Peart. Peart also performed the spoken word introductions to the other two sections.

"Under the Shadow": In this section, the travelers continue their journey into the lands of the Necromancer. Meanwhile, the Necromancer, watching from a tower, "views all his lands" with his "magic prism eyes". Unbeknownst to the three travelers, he is already aware of their intrusion into his dark lands. The three travelers are eventually brought before the Necromancer and made to bow, and turned into "spectres numb with fear". The travelers are then locked in the labyrinthine dungeons of the Necromancer's fortress. This fortress is a parallel to Dol Guldur. Musically, this part of the song transitions into a harder rock sound that builds in intensity throughout the section.

"Return of the Prince": The title of this section is a reference to Tolkien's The Return of the King. Musically, this section is much lighter than the second one, as it represents the triumph of good over evil. In this section, the Necromancer is confronted by "the Champion", Prince By-Tor. This is the second Rush song to feature the character By-Tor, the first being "By-Tor & The Snow Dog" on the band's second album, Fly by Night. However, unlike in that song, By-Tor is not evil here, as he battles "for freedom from chains of long years" for the three travelers and the other spectres trapped in the Necromancer's fortress. By-Tor stealthily attacks, and ultimately slays the Necromancer, which breaks the spell the Necromancer cast over his Dark Lands, making them bright once more. Becoming a Wraith, the Necromancer leaves to seek another land to rule with his "evil prism eye". The "evil prism eye" is a reference to the Eye of Sauron, and the Necromancer finding another land to rule is a reference to Sauron's return to Mordor after being forced to flee Dol Guldur. The men are freed after the Necromancer's departure. The song ends with Lifeson playing a triumphant guitar solo in celebration of the victory over evil. On the inside gatefold of the album, just below the lyrics to "The Necromancer", the Latin phrase, "Terminat hora diem; terminat auctor opus", appears, which translated (loosely) means, "[as] The hour ends the day; the author ends his work." [2]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Telleria, Robert (2002). Rush Tribute: Mereley Players. Cardiff: Quarry Music Books. p. 145.  
  2. ^ http://www.rush.com/songs/the-necromancer/


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