X is for “Xanadu”

My theme for this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge is classic rock songs. Each day during the month (except for the first four Sundays, I will post a classic rock song: a video from YouTube, along with a brief bit of background about the song and the recording artist(s).

This is much more difficult than I thought it would be. For every letter of the alphabet there are dozens of fantastic classic rock songs to choose from and picking just one song for each letter is maddening. But this is what I signed up for.

Wait, forget that last paragraph. It doesn’t apply to the letter X. I Googled “classic rock songs that start with the letter X” and two songs came up. Both named “Xanadu.” One “Xanadu” is from Olivia Newton John, and I’m sorry, but I can’t in good conscience suggest that Olivia Newton John’s disco song “Xanadu” is classic rock. So…

My X song is “Xanadu” from Rush.

“Xanadu” was a song by the Canadian progressive rock band Rush from their 1977 album, A Farewell to Kings. It is approximately eleven minutes long, beginning with a five-minute-long instrumental section before transitioning to a narrative written by Neil Peart, which was inspired by the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem Kubla Khan.

The legend of Xanadu is related to a number of myths and legends going back to the prehistory of Asia and the Americas, specifically that of Shamballa. There was a movement in the time of Coleridge to explore these legends. The song does not explicitly state where “Xanadu” is, but references to Kubla Khan imply that it is a mythical place based on Shangdu, the historical summer capital of the Mongol Empire.

In Coleridge’s poem, Xanadu is the fictional name of the land where Khubla Khan ordered the dome to be built: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree.” Coleridge goes on to describe the dome as a “Miracle of rare device, a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice.” As to the poem, the notion of the “Man from Porlock” is a famous yet unsubstantiated tale offered by Coleridge himself to explain why his poem is unfinished. Many in the literary world believe the tale to be a fabricated explanation.

Here are the lyrics to “Xanadu.”

To seek the sacred river Alph 
To walk the caves of ice
To break my fast on honey dew
And drink the milk of paradise

I had heard the whispered tales
Of immortality
The deepest mystery
From an ancient book, I took a clue
I scaled the frozen mountain tops
Of eastern lands unknown
Time and man alone
Searching for the lost, Xanadu


To stand within the pleasure dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste anew the fruits of life
The last immortal man
To find the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
Oh, I will dine on honey dew
And drink the milk of paradise, oh, paradise

A thousand years have come and gone
But time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view
Waiting for the world to end
Weary of the night
Praying for the light
Prison of the lost, Xanadu


Held within the pleasure dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste my bitter triumph
As a man, immortal man
Never more shall I return
Escape these caves of ice
For I have dined on honey dew
And drunk the milk of paradise, whoa, paradise

And for those of you who are Olivia Newton John fans, I give you her “Xanadu.”

Previous 2023 A to Z posts: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

11 thoughts on “X is for “Xanadu”

  1. Jamie April 28, 2023 / 6:06 am

    I completely guessed this, since X is a slim pickings letter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango April 28, 2023 / 9:48 am

      Very slim pickings.


  2. newepicauthor April 28, 2023 / 7:00 am

    I remember listening to this song when I watched the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. Much better choice than the Olivia song.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marleen April 30, 2023 / 1:34 am

    It’s a good one, and a lot of guitar power!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. leigha66 May 9, 2023 / 8:55 am

    Although Olivia has a definite place in music history, it is not really under classic rock. Rush’s song was a better choice.

    Liked by 1 person

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