Closer to the Heart

Closer to the Heart [1] is a song the rock band Rush published in the late 70s. I listened to a few of their songs growing up but it wasn’t until I watched the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that I gained a true appreciation for their musical style and brilliance.

This song has captured me time and again. I find the lyrics have deep meaning and make heavy demands on the listener. It challenges us to consider our role in building a better world.

I realize the lyrics are dated, and the choice of the word men is sexiest, but there is still value in analyzing the meaning. Here is the opening stanza to this classic song:

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

Generally speaking, the men and women who hold high places are the leaders of the world. They shape our future for better or worse. They are best positioned to start the change because of the power they have. This power needs to be used carefully.

Peart, the drummer and lyricist, along with Talbot, first time collaborator, go on to charge them with doing this “Closer to the heart”. The expression to take something to heart, means to take it very seriously. Next they introduce the producers of our world:

The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart

The blacksmith builds tools while the artist interprets the world around them. A blacksmith could be an engineer, an artist could be a writer. Reflecting it, the world around them, in their art is a demand. It means consider what you are doing with your time and what you are making for the world. Are your contributions to the world building people up or tearing them down? In this stanza Peart and Talbot contrast two very different roles in our society:

Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart, yeah

One cultivates the land and the other the mind. Both have extremely different functions in our society. It would be absurd for a philosopher to tell a ploughman how to cultivate his field. I am not suggesting a philosopher can’t farm and farmers don’t think. We each have a part to play in the world. Yet, we must play our part. Today we would say “stay in your lane”.

In this final verse, we see that in life it is necessary to partner with and yield to others:

You can be the captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

Often I see people vying for leadership positions. Far too often they are only attracted to profit, power and prestige. To suggest someone else can be the captain, means we should be willing to let go of our own desire to take the lead and make way for true leaders.

The flip side of this is we as followers often complain to our leaders without providing much of how to make things better. So to “draw a chart”, is to help the leaders by providing feedback, and roadmaps for a better future. The rest of the song repeats the maxim “Closer to the heart” with the lead singer, Geddy, belting out the lyrics, reinforcing the message to take your station in life seriously.

Well closer to the heart, yeah
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
I said closer to the heart

Well closer to the heart yeah
Closer to your heart
Closer to your heart

This song challenges us to look deep within ourselves. Are you living an unexamined life? Have you given thought to your worldview? Do you realize your words and actions affect others?

If something is close to your heart it is important to you. Whether we realize it or not, the emotions we hold in our heart are how we keep something close to our heart. Is your heart filled with love or hate?

Think about it.

-Christian

[1] https://www.rush.com/songs/closer-to-the-heart/

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