“The Spirit of Radio” is a song released in 1980 by the Canadian rock band Rush from their album Permanent Waves. The song’s name was inspired by Toronto radio station CFNY-FM’s slogan. It was significant in the growing popularity of the band.
“The Spirit of Radio” features the band experimenting with a reggae style in its closing section. Reggae would be explored further on the band’s next three records, Moving Pictures, Signals, and Grace Under Pressure. The group had experimented with reggae-influenced riffs in the studio and had come up with a reggae introduction to “Working Man” on their tours, so they decided to incorporate a passage into “The Spirit of Radio”, and as guitarist Alex Lifeson said, “to make us smile and have a little fun”.
“The Spirit of Radio” was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and was among five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010.
They had grazed the UK Top 40 two years earlier with “Closer to the Heart”, but when issued as a single in March 1980, “The Spirit of Radio” soon reached #13 on the UK Singles Chart. It remains their biggest UK hit to date (the 7″ single was a 3:00 edited version which has never appeared on CD to date). In the US, the single peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980 and #22 in Canada, and in 1998 a live version of the song reached #27 on the Mainstream Rock Charts.
Promotional 12-inch copies were released in the United States late 1979 with the B-sides of “Working Man” and “The Trees”, and the song being incorrectly titled “The Spirit of the Radio”.