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What does "YYZ" stand for?

Geddy, Alex, Neil...click on the pic to see amazing things!


 Back in the summer of 1990, after all the rules and structure of the League had been put together, 1 final task remained:  To create a League name which was unique, simple, and not cheesy.  Since I'm not the most creative person in the world, this seemed like the toughest task of all.

So instead of racking my brain for some creative spark, I looked to my favorite music group, Rush (click for my historical attendance & setlists), for help.  I stacked all their CD's up and looked through the titles for some clues:

"Working Man Hockey League"?

"By-Tor Hockey League"?

"Diadect and Narpets Fantasy League"?

"Temples of Syrinx Hockey"?

"Cygnus Hockey League"?

"Jacob's Ladder Fantasy Hockey"?

Nothing so far, until looking at the Moving Pictures album:

Click here to learn more about Moving Pictures
Click on the picture to learn more about the album!

The song title jumps out at me....."YYZ"

Simple. Unique.  Mysterious.  Rush-related.

So ended the search for a League name!!  Now what does "YYZ" represent?

YYZ is the transmitter code for Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Every airport is assigned a unique 3 letter code, and that code is always being transmitted so that pilots can tell, roughly, where they are and verify that their navigational radios are tuned properly. These codes are also written on your luggage tags when you fly. The intro to the song is Morse code for "YYZ."

Now why did Rush choose to call a song "YYZ"?  As mentioned before, "YYZ" is on the 1981 album  Moving Pictures.  It was nominated for a 1982 Grammy award that year as Best Rock Instrumental (losing to The Police's "Behind my Camel").  In Bill Banasiewicz's 1988 Rush biography "Visions:  The Official Biography", he explains in more detail:
 

The inspiration for the songs (from the "Moving Pictures" album) came from their experiences of travel, dislocation and fame.  Although there is much darkness on the album, there are several light spots, notably 'YYZ', pronounced Y-Y-Zed.

"We really had a strong idea to do a shorter, more concise instrumental that was actually a song with verses and a chorus, and so on, a la Weather Report," Neil (Peart) says.  The jazz-rock fusion influence had become increasingly important to the band's sound.

"There are parts of that song," says Neil, "that are semi-evocative of the feelings that are engendered when you are going to the airport to leave.  You are sort of feeling edgy and tense because you are having to leave home and go to work, and you are thinking that you are half at home and half away.  It's a very transitional period, and you always have a sense of infinite possibilities at the airport.  You can change your mind and fly anywhere in the world, and all of a sudden, you are not in Toronto anymore, you are in the world.  An airport really should not be said to be [in] a city, because it never is.  It's always a crossroad.  And that of course is a big part of the song.  We tried to work a lot of the exotic nature of the airport in there.  And the big sappy instrumental bridge in the middle that is really orchestrated, really emotional, really rich, is of course again half symbolizing the tremendous emotional impact of coming home."

'YYZ' begins with the Morse code signal calling the band home as Neil taps the message out on his crotal.  There is so much going on in this song that it takes many listens to hear all of the musical elements employed.  Tough guitar leads, funky bass playing and more incredible drum work shoot back and forth.  Neil gets his unique sound by smashing a piece of plywood against a chair.

For more Rush information, click on the road to start your musical journey:

 


 

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