Subdivisions (as made famous by Rush)

“Subdivisions” is a song by Canadian progressive rock group, Rush, released as the second single from their 1982 album Signals.

The song has been a staple of the band’s live performances, is played regularly on classic-rock radio, and appears on several greatest-hits compilations. It was released as a single in 1982, and despite limited success on the UK charts, the song had significant airplay in Great Britain.[citation needed] In the United States, it charted at No. 8 on the Album Rock Tracks chart.[1] Played live prior to its release, numerous pre-release live versions have circulated among collectors for years.

The song is a commentary on social stratification through the pressure to adopt certain lifestyles. It describes young people dealing with a “cool” culture amidst a comfortable yet oppressively mundane suburban existence in housing subdivisions. Anyone who does not obey social expectations is regarded as an outcast; the lyrics flatly describe a choice of “conform or be cast out”.

“Subdivisions” was one of five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010. The band asked Jacob Moon to perform his version of the song at the gala in their absence.[2]

The song became available as downloadable content for the music video game Rock Band 3 on November 2, 2010, in Basic rhythm as well as PRO mode which takes advantage of the use of a real guitar, bass guitar, and standard MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits in addition to vocals.[3][4]

The title of the song is heard twice per chorus, spoken by Neil Peart and lip-synched in the video by Alex Lifeson. Live performances include a sample of Peart’s voice, triggered at the appropriate moments and still lip-synched by Lifeson.

The promotional video scenes were filmed in the Toronto, Ontario area. The downtown scenes were filmed in downtown Toronto, most notably the opening zoom out shot of the intersection of King and Bay St, while the suburbs scenes were filmed in Scarborough, Ontario, near Warden and Finch Avenues. The aerial zoom out is of Sandy Haven Dr in Scarborough. The high school scenes were filmed at L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute, in the same area. The video also features scenes of the Don Valley Parkway (looking south from a vantage point on Lawrence Ave) and a busy TTC subway station.

The lead character is played by Dave Glover, a L’Amoreaux student at the time. In 2008, Dave Glover’s wife, Sue Glover, said “they got really crappy seats to the show and never even met the band in person! Still fun for him though.” As of 2018, Dave can be found as the proprietor of The Human Bean, a coffee shop in Cobourg, Ontario, and on TV and stage in Cobourg. [5].

The arcade game featured at the end of the video is Atari’s Tempest.[6]. The video game arcade was a real arcade, not staged, and named Video Invasion. It was located at 3500 Bathurst St in North York, Toronto. It is just a few kilometers from Willowdale, the neighborhood of North York mentioned in The Necromancer. Most famously, Brian May of Queen frequented the arcade, and there were pictures of him on the wall. [7]

Geddy Lee – lead vocals and backing vocals, synthesizers (Oberheim OB-X, Minimoog) and bass
Alex Lifeson – electric guitar
Neil Peart – drums, backing vocals