Come On.And.Let.The Music Flow Before You Let It Hit Your.Eyes.Kyrics The Language of Lyrics – Analysis of Rush’s "Force 10"

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The Language of Lyrics – Analysis of Rush’s "Force 10"

You wrote a great tune with an interesting rhythm structure and a catchy vocal melody. Now you need to write the words to accompany your poem. When I was a freshman in high school, I analyzed Rush’s “Force 10” from the Hold Your Fire album. In the process (with my Hold Your Fire t-shirt and a poster of the three men I most admire hanging in chalk), I gave a talk about the eight literary devices that make up well-written poetry or lyrics. These are onomatopoeia, alliteration, similes, hyperbole, personification, rhyme, assonance and metaphors.

I chose “Power of 10” because it contained all eight literary devices and therefore received extra credit for my speech. I will define these literary techniques and give examples.

Onomatopoeia is the first literary device used in the introduction. An onomatopoeia is a word that imitates or suggests the origin of the sound it describes. The opening ahhh, an onomatopoeia, lasts about 15 seconds. It sets the tone for the song as a song that requires endurance. Another device featured is alliteration. Alliteration is a literary or rhetorical stylistic device consisting of the repetition of the same consonant at the beginning of several words in close succession. “Tough times call for tough conversations, hard hearts call for tough songs call for…” The repetition of the words, difficult and demanding, emphasizes the need to take control of any undesirable situation and turn it around for a favorable outcome.

Neil Peart immediately states the fallibility of the human condition by saying, “We can rise and fall like empires, ebb and flow like the tide,” a simile. A simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things, often introduced with the word “like” or “as.” It compares our ability to achieve and fail to the collective effort of an empire and to the mighty power of Mother Nature. He continues his simile with “Be vain and clever, humble and foolish, we can hit and miss like pride” to further emphasize how we can be “vain and clever” as the power of empires at their height, or humble and foolish when they are destroyed.

The next line, “We can circle like hurricanes” is an example of hyperbole. When used as a literary device, hyperbole is an exaggeration that, while not meant to be taken literally, still describes a situation or image that is at least feasible or possible. This text highlights how disorganized and chaotic we humans can be like a storm that randomly sweeps in and destroys. Or we can “Dance and dream like lovers” is the other side of the coin that says that when we are happy; we express our emotions with joy and creativity. “Attack the day like birds of prey” is again about achieving tunnel vision, no matter who might get hurt along the way. “Scavengers in disguise” is the fear we feel when we cannot take care of ourselves and be autonomous.

After the first two verses, the chorus states “Look in- Into the eye of the storm.” It is the first example of personification. Personification is an ontological metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person. Storms literally have no eyes, but they do have a focal point where their power is strongest, as looking someone in the eye is the most direct way to get close to a person. “Watch out – for a force without form”. The poem goes on to warn us to be careful about our surroundings: “Look around – at the sight and the sound, look in, look out, look around.”

There are examples of both rhyme and assonance in the third verse. Rhyme is the repetition of similar sounds in two or more words (most often at the end of a phrase) and is most often used in poetry and song. Assonance is the refraining of vowels to create internal rhyme within a phrase or sentence.

“We can move with wild grace in the rhythms of the night

Cool and distant like dancers

In the heat of rhythm and light”

This verse highlights how we can hide in our own introspection. Centered on the music of nature, the night rhymes with lights to create a contrast between the natural rhythms of nature and the artificial lights of a closed club environment. “Flashing in the heat” is an example of assonance. This fast-paced lyric with internal rhymes shows an impulsive and emotional response to the music.

The final verse compares the “rose of romance” to “the touch of joie vivre” or “joy of life” as a metaphor. A metaphor is a figure of speech that is succinctly expressed by comparing two things, saying that one is the other. This comparison doubts, a flower associated with love for the joys of life. Neil Peart elaborates on the simile, “hearts too tender on our sleeves”, meaning that loving means making yourself vulnerable, and contrasts with the simile “skin as thick as thieves”.

The bridge is another example of hyperbole, “we rise and fall with the force of ten, twist the world and ride the wind.” The force of ten is illustrated as a force beyond our three-dimensional existence, as literally turning the world around would require a power beyond our current knowledge.

I used these literary devices to write my own poems. Knowing these techniques is useful for writing great content. In the case of writer’s block, literary devices are fun tools to play with. For example, another Rush song that specifically plays on literary devices is “Anagram.” In this song, Neil cleverly wrote that it is a play on words and the song is actually quite fluid. The chorus states, “There’s no safe seat in the feast, Stab the beast to the best of your ability, The night grows rare, The saint turns to sin.” The chorus alone uses alliteration, metaphors, rhymes and personification… Neil Peart shows that the use of these devices will always appeal to the listener’s ear, so with all that said, let’s close with a thought. … Let us not be maladjusted in the fog of our attacks … Let us never challenge never to an infinite end and receive what we believe we can achieve in the midst of the fog.

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