Sleep Song #4, in Honor of Rush’s RRHF Induction: “La Villa Strangiato”

Today is an important day. Not only is it National Sleep Apnea Awareness Day, it is also the day of the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Among this year’s well-deserving inductees is my favorite band of all time, Rush.

I won’t bore you with all the reasons why I love Geddy, Alex, and Neil, because seriously I could go on and on and on.  Suffice it to say that I grew up listening to Rush, whose music sparked my creative energies and allowed me to think of and perceive instrumentation and lyrics in new, unconventional ways.  Rush’s music made life even better during good times and pulled me up during bad times.  And my man Neil Peart . . . well, it’s tough to name a better drummer alive today.  Read some of his books and know his history to understand why Neil is a true inspiration to me.

One of Rush’s greatest pieces is “La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence),” from the 1978 release Hemispheres (which still stands as my single favorite rock album of all time).  It is Rush’s first completely instrumental studio recording, though in subsequent years live performances would occasionally feature some vocals from Geddy Lee and, sometimes, various humorous comments from guitarist “Lerxst” Lifeson.  In my strong opinion, this song is a masterpiece.  It is mind-blowingly complex, an auditory nirvana for music geeks such as myself.

Why is “La Villa Strangiato” a sleep song?  It was inspired by one of Alex Lifeson’s dreams.  The song is comprised of multiple movements, which coincide with the recalled dream imagery:

I: “Buenas Noches, Mein Froinds!”
II: “To sleep, perchance to dream…”
III: “Strangiato Theme”
IV: “A Lerxst in Wonderland”
V: “Monsters!”
VI: “The Ghost of the Aragon”
VII: “Danforth and Pape”
VIII: “The Waltz of the Shreves”
IX: “Never Turn Your Back on a Monster!”
X: “Monsters! (Reprise)”
XI: “Strangiato theme (Reprise)”
XII: “A Farewell to Things”

Posted here is a relatively recent live version of the song.  If you’re a modern music fan, however, I strongly encourage you to get your hands on the original 1978 studio version, put on your Big Beat headphones, and get lost in Lerxst’s dream for 9 minutes.  You’ll be glad you did.

Congratulations to my brothers in Rush for finally, FINALLY!, getting the recognition they deserve from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Buenas Noches, Mein Froinds!


3 comments on “Sleep Song #4, in Honor of Rush’s RRHF Induction: “La Villa Strangiato”

  1. Brook Fritz says:


    You took the words right out of my mouth. I’m a product of the 80’s and one of my first songs I learned to play on the electric guitar was In The Mood – classic cowbell!
    The power trio from Toronto have been blowing my musical mind from day one. Not only is their music technical but the lyrics that Neil writes…. hello, have you read the lyrics to The Trees?

    OK. Here’s some RUSH trivia, what song features the only guest vocalist on any RUSH song and who is the singer??

    • Easy one, Brook! That would be Aimee Mann from Til Tuesday, Time Stand Still! Thanks man for reading!

      • Brook Fritz says:

        OK. Yes, that was an easy one. Just letting the clutch out slowly.
        Back in my high school days, we would skip school on the 24th of May (lyrics from Lakeside Park). We called it Rush Day and would gather at one of the rivers, have a bonfire and crank Rush on a ghetto blaster (cassettes back then). Good times. I learned to play one of my favorite B-side songs, In The End, off the Fly By Night album. It is so melodic and the lyrics speak to me as I lived in the shadow of an older brother until he died at the age of 27. I played In The End at his funeral. Looking back I’m not sure how I even got through it – singing and playing.
        Yes, Rush is a big part of my life – Closer To the Heart…..

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