“2112” (pronounced twenty-one twelve) is a side-long title track from Canadian rock band Rush’s 1976 album of the same name. The overture and the first section, Temples of Syrinx, were released as a single and have been featured in most of Rush’s setlists since. The “sci-fi” sounds in the beginning of the song were created using an ARP Odyssey synthesizer and an Echoplex tape delay. On the “2112 / Moving Pictures” episode of the documentary series Classic Albums, producer Terry Brown states the synth intro is composed of various parts played by Hugh Syme that were put together in a collage. Since 1997, when any parts of the song are performed live, they are transposed down one full step, as heard on every live album and DVD from Different Stages forward. With the combined movements being twenty minutes and thirty-three seconds long, it is the longest song or suite in Rush’s library.
This song is described in the liner notes of the album—its interior and back cover—in two ways:
by the actually-sung lyrics, and
by the narrative of the song’s Protagonist—identified as “Anonymous, 2112″—quoted and italicized like entries from a personal journal—on the back cover and before the lyrics of all songs except “Overture” and “Grand Finale”.
Both serve as the source, except where otherwise noted, of all that follows.
Lyricist/drummer Neil Peart is credited in the liner notes as acknowledging “the genius of Ayn Rand.” Many listeners believe that “2112” is based on Ayn Rand’s book, Anthem, as Neil Peart explained the influence that the book had on his music, saying in a 1991 “Rockline” interview:
“The inspiration behind it was … It’s difficult always to trace those lines because so many things tend to coalesce, and in fact it ended up being quite similar to a book called Anthem by the writer Ayn Rand. But I didn’t realize that while I was working on it, and then eventually as the story came together, the parallels became obvious to me and I thought, ‘Oh gee, I don’t want to be a plagiarist here.’ So I did give credit to her writings in the liner notes.