Song Review by

At once a simplification of Rush’s sound while also being quite complex, "Freewill" is a musical manifesto of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, albeit in a less sci-fi mode than "2112." The song is not short by pop standards, but is significantly shorter in duration than previous Rush anthems, so it is both a musical and lyrical progression for the band.

"Freewill" is dominated by Alex Lifeson’s snakelike riff and Neil Peart’s odd time signatures and then develops into a short bass solo by Geddy Lee. The group then embark on as jam-like an interlude as can be expected for Rush, culminating in the last recorded evidence of Lee’s banshee vocals. Peart’s lyrics are quite erudite for the hard rock medium, and could easily stand as verse without the music, although they remained approachable enough for high school kids to scribble them in the margins of their notebooks. The song’s stance that humans choose their own destiny may seem antiquated in this politically correct "Age of the Victim", but is consistent with Peart’s own rags to riches saga -- going from unemployed musician who taught himself drums to one of the finest percussionists in rock history.

Along with "The Spirit of Radio," "Freewill" has remained an AOR staple, and set the table for Rush’s commercial and artistic breakthrough, Moving Pictures.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Permanent Waves 1980 Universal Special Products / Mercury 5:24
Chronicles 1990 Mercury 5:25
Retrospective, Vol. 1 (1974-1980) 1997 Mercury 5:24
The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-1987 2003 Universal Distribution 5:23
Gold 2006 Mercury 5:22
Icon 2010 Island / Mercury 5:22
Icon 2 2011 Mercury 5:22
Sector 2 2011 Island / Mercury 5:32
No Image 5:30