Song by Rush
Released August 18, 1977
Recorded 1977, Rockfield Studios
Genre Prog Rock
Length 11:08
Label Mercury Records
Producer Rush and Terry Brown

"Xanadu" was recorded for A Farewell to Kings. It is approximately eleven minutes long, beginning with a five-minute-long instrumental section, then transitioning to a narrative written by lyricist Neil Peart, inspired by the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem Kubla Khan.


In Peart's lyrics, the narrator describes searching for something called "Xanadu" (although it is not explicitly stated what this is, references to the poem "Kubla Khan" imply that it is a mythical place based on the historical summer capitol of the Mongolian Empire) that will grant him immortality. The narrator finds Xanadu and attains immortality. A thousand years pass, and he is left "waiting for the world to end," bitter in the reality of his successful quest.


"Xanadu" is the first Rush song in which synthesizers are an integral part. Unlike the previous 2112 or Caress of Steel albums, "Xanadu" used both guitar and synthesizer effects, and thus represented a transitional phase for the group.

The song also marks Rush's clear foray into program music. Previous albums had displayed some elements of program music. Subsequent albums during the late '70's and early '80's would see the group explore program music more systematically.

"Xanadu" requires each member to utilize an array of instruments to effect the performance. Lifeson used a double-necked Gibson electric guitar (one twelve-string, the other six-string) as well as synthesizer pedals; Lee made use of a double-necked Rickenbacker (bass and twelve-string guitar) as well as extensive synthesizer arrangements (through both pedals and keyboards) while singing; and Peart took on various percussion instruments (notably temple blocks, tubular bells, bell tree, glockenspiel and wind chimes) in addition to his drum kit work.

More recent performances of the song have been altered in order to simplify the arrangement. For example, when played during the R30 tour, the end of the song was changed so that Geddy Lee did not play the rhythm guitar part, as in the original arrangement.

Covers and tributesEdit

  • "Xanadu" was covered by Silver Sun and released on their Too Much, Too Little, Too Late EP in 1998. Their version, while generally faithful, compressed the epic into a 4 minute pop/punk song.
  • Van Halen based their song "Pleasure Dome", off their 1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album, on this Rush song.
  • On Dream Theater's 2008 live album/DVD Chaos in Motion 2007–2008, John Petrucci plays the guitar line first heard at approximately 1:50 in "Xanadu" during the "Trial of Tears" portion of the album's closing medley.
  • An orchestrated version of "Xanadu" appears on Exit... Stage Right, a string quartet tribute album that features 12 Rush songs converted into classical pieces.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.