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The Language of Lyrics – Analysis of Rush’s "Force 10"
It’s a great tune with an interesting rhythmic structure and a catchy vocal melody. You now need to write lyrics to accompany your song. When I was a freshman in high school, I was analyzing Rush’s “Force 10” from the Hold Your Fire album. During this time (wearing a Hold Your Fire shirt and hanging posters of three of my most admired people on the chalkboard), I gave a presentation on eight literary devices that make good poetry and lyrics. These are onomatopoeia, alliteration, simile, hyperbole, personification, conjunction, assonance, simile.
I chose “Force 10” because it includes all eight literary tools, so I got extra credit for my presentation. I will describe these literary devices and give examples.
Onomatopoeia is the first literary device used in introduction. Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound it describes. The opening ahhh, onnomatopoeia, lasts about 15 seconds. For songs that require endurance, the tone of the song is adjusted. The second device introduced is alliteration. Alliteration is a literary and rhetorical stylistic device consisting of the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of several words. “Hard times call for tough words. A tough heart calls for tough voices…” Repeating the words tough and demanding emphasizes the need to take control of any undesirable situation and bring about a positive outcome.
Neil Peart spoke directly to the fallibility of the human condition when he metaphorically said, “We can rise and fall like empires, we can ebb and flow like the tide.” A simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things, usually expressed by the words “like” or “should.” He compares our ability to succeed and fail to the collective efforts of an empire and the mighty power of Mother Nature. He continues his comparison, “Be vain, wise, meek, dumb, we can hit and miss like pride,” pointing out how we can either be “shouty and smart” like the imperial powers at their peak, or humble and dumb in their time. is destroyed.
The next line, “We can roll like a hurricane,” is an example of hyperbole. When used as a literary device, hyperbole is an exaggeration that, while not meant literally, still describes a situation or image that is at least feasible or possible. This lyrical poem highlights how we humans are chaotic and chaotic, like a storm that winds up and destroys us at random. Or we can dance and dream like lovers, the other side of the coin when we are happy; we express our emotions through joy and creation. “Attack the day like raptors” again refers to pursuing tunnel vision regardless of who may be hurt along the way. “Garbage under cover” is the fear we feel when we can’t support ourselves and be independent.
After the first two verses, the chorus reads, “Look- Into the Eye of the Storm.” This is the first example of depicting a person. A person is an ontological metaphor for representing an object or abstraction as a person. Storms don’t literally have eyes, but their power is the strongest, so looking into someone’s eyes is the most direct way to approach a person. “Seek Formless Power”. The song warns us to be aware of our surroundings, “Look around – At the sights and sounds, look outside.”
The third verse has examples of both rhyme and assonance. A rhyme is the repetition of similar sounds in two or more words (usually at the end of a sentence) and is often used in poetry and songs. Assonance is the omission of vowel sounds to create an internal phrase in a phrase or sentence.
“We can move with wild grace to the rhythm of the night
Cool and distant, like dancing girls
In the heat of the beat and light”
This verse highlights how we can hide within ourselves. Focusing on natural music, the journey through the night light creates a contrast between the rhythms of nature and the artificial lights of a closed club environment. “In hotter” is an example of assonance. The lyrics, sung quickly with this internal rhyme, provide an impulse and emotional response to the music.
In the last verse, the “rose of love” is compared metaphorically to “the joy of life” or “the joy of life.” A simile is a word of mouth that compares two things and says that one is the other. This comparison is a flower related to the joy of life and love. Neil Peart popularizes the “soft-hearted” simile, which means making oneself vulnerable to love, in contrast to the “thief-skinned” simile.
The bridge is another example of exaggeration: “We fall with ten forces, we twist the world and blow it with the wind.” As exemplified by the Tenth Force being a force beyond our three-dimensional existence, warping the Earth requires a force beyond our current knowledge.
I composed my songs using these literary devices. Knowing these techniques will help you write great lyrics. For writer’s block, literary devices are a fun tool to play with. For example, another Rush song that plays specifically on literary devices is “Anagram.” In this song, Neil cleverly wrote it as a play on the words, and the song is really free. The chorus says, “There’s no safe seat on the bower, best sting for the beast, the night is thinning, the saint is sinning.” The chorus alone uses alliteration, simile, conjunction, personification… Neil Peart shows that the use of these devices will always please the listener’s ear. Let us not settle in our own fog… Let us never fight endlessly and embrace what we believe we can achieve while in the fog.
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