Walk softly and carry a big F-sharp suspended. If legendary
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson had a mantra, that might be it. That
chord (technically an F#7sus4) is known to his legion of fans as
“The Alex Chord,” or “The Hemispheres Chord,” as it is the
opening chord to Rush’s 1978 prog-rock opus Hemispheres. It
can also be heard ringing out on “Far Cry,” the opening cut on
Rush’s nineteenth studio album, 2007’s Snakes and Arrows.
the band. The album was followed by a marathon tour spanning two years and two continents, a double live album, and
the November 2008 release of the three-disc DVD/Blu-Ray,
Snakes and Arrows Live, in which Rush puts on a clinic on
how to play a rock concert.
That a single chord can be associated so strongly with one
guitar player is testament to Lifeson’s influence on the medium. He is a guitar player’s guitar player. Where Steve Vai may
make us say “I wish I could do that,” Alex Lifeson makes us
say, “I wish I’d thought of that.”
Snakes and Arrows was Rush’s 27th album to appear in the
Billboard Top 200, and it turned into a long, good ride for
BY MAX MOBLEY
PREMIER GUITAR APRIL 2009 107
As a musician, Alex Lifeson has occasionally been overlooked, in
part because he is a guitar player dedicated to serving the song
instead of stepping on it. As most guitarists know, that kind of
restraint is no easy feat. Of course, serving a Rush song can be
like serving a 12-course meal. As the sole guitarist and one third
of the world’s most complicated rock band, Alex has served well.
About to release their twelfth compilation CD, Retrospective 3, I
spoke with Alex Lifeson, and we talked about (what else?) guitars
and his notable return to an all-Gibson lineup.
Photo Andrew McNaughtan