Togther, the Cygnus X-1 songs ("Book I: The Voyage" from "A Farewell to Kings," and "Book II: Hemispheres" from "Hemispheres"), tell a story about a man who flies a spaceship, "Rocinante," into a black hole. His body and ship get completely destroyed "Every nerve is torn apart". His spirit, however, remains unharmed. Then the story switches over to an ancient Greek-like battle between people who chose to follow their heart or mind. The "gods," Dionysus (heart) and Apollo (mind) only help divide the warring people. Then the "hero" from the first part makes a return (signaled by segments of part I being played), and sees the bloodshed. He cries out, and while no one can see or hear him, they "felt (his) silent cry" and stop their war. The gods then call him "Cygnus: God of Balance"
Part 1: Song: Cygnus X-1: Book I - The Voyage
Part 2 Song: Cygnus X-1: Book II - Hemispheres
With both songs combined, they are the longest multipart "story" Rush has written
The first song to reuse a character was Caress of Steel's "The Necromancer," which reused By-Tor, from Fly by Night's "By-Tor and the Snow Dog"
Rocinante is the name of Steinbeck's motor home in Travels With Charlie, as well as the name of Don Quixote's horse
Cygnus X-1 is the name given to an X-ray source in the constellation of Cygnus, believed to be a black hole