Any fiction lover and/or aspiring fiction writer can relate to the heart-breaking lyrics of Rush’s ballad about the aging Ernest Hemingway losing his faculties. Here is a snippet from the lyrics:
The writer stares with glassy eyes
Defies the empty page
His beard is white, his face is lined
And streaked with tears of rage
Thirty years ago, how the words would flow
With passion and precision
But now his mind is dark and dulled
By sickness and indecision
…And he stares out the kitchen door…
…Where the sun will rise no more…
The song was never part of their live set, as it has an extensive solo violin part (performed by Ben Mink on the record) and Rush historically refused to use additional stage musicians. They have no problem relying on technology (e.g., sequencers to play synthesizer lines) but always drew the line at live musicians, Geddy Lee quipping that “our audience pays to hear just the three of us”. Indeed, quite a few Rush fans point to the powerful and complex arrangements they play with just a trio as one of the things that attracts them to the band.
Since the “Clockwork Angels” album had extensive string orchestra parts, however, they started taking a small string section along, and this must have prompted the addition of the song to the live set.