Malignant Narcissism (song)

Malignant Narcissism (song)

"Malignant Narcissism" is an instrumental track from Rush's 2007 album Snakes & Arrows. Many Rush fans abbreviate the title to "MalNar", an abbreviation the band themselves developed. "Malignant Narcissism" was nominated for a 2008 Grammy under the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance, Rush's fifth nomination in said category. However, the song lost to Bruce Springsteen's "Once Upon a Time in the West" marking the fifth instrumental track defeated in said category.

Song title inspiration

The band found inspiration for the title of the song in the dialogue from the Trey Parker and Matt Stone film Team America: World Police. In that film, the psychological term malignant narcissism is used in reference to Islamic terrorists. The only voice heard is from an audio sample taken from the film, appearing at 1:08 in the song featuring a female voice saying, "Usually a case of malignant narcissism brought on during childhood".

We’re all big Matt Stone fans, and South Park fans, so we were all fans of that movie, and [Rush drummer-lyricist] Neil [Peart] is friends with Matt Stone. And Matt and Trey Parker were both Rush fans at some point. So they keep in contact. And [Neil] said, ‘Look, we want to do this song called "Malignant Narcissism", and [Matt] was thrilled. He said, ‘Great!’|||Rush bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee

Rush has used similar self-deprecating terms in titling their instrumental tracks; their first recorded instrumental track, "La Villa Strangiato" from the 1978 album Hemispheres, was sub-titled "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence".

Composition and production

Geddy Lee describes the development of the song as follows, in an interview with Toronto rock station Q107 (CILQ-FM). "Malignant Narcissism" was the last song recorded during the production of Snakes & Arrows, and was completed in a few days. While guitarist Alex Lifeson was away from the studio, Lee contacted Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and requested a Jaco Pastorius signature bass -- a fretless bass -- delivered to the studio, on evaluation from Fender. According to Lee, he was interested in the bass for several reasons. Among those reasons was his lack of familiarity with fretless basses.

While Lee was experimenting with the bass in the studio, co-producer Nick Raskulinecz overheard Lee playing a catchy riff and suggested this be incorporated into a new song. Rush drummer Neil Peart was present, but his expansive drum kit had already been shipped off from the studio. (For more information on Peart's traditional, full drum kit, see the "Gear" section of Peart's article.) With Raskulinecz's encouragement, Peart decided to challenge himself with an unfamililar instrument setup, like Lee had done with fretless bass. Peart assembled a small kit comprised of four drums, the smallest kit he had ever used when recording for a Rush album. Peart recorded drum parts for "Malignant Narcissism" with this minimal kit.

When Lifeson returned to the studio, he had one day to compose a guitar part to play over Lee's fretless riffing, which he did, thus making Snakes & Arrows the first Rush album to contain three instrumentals.


  1. Peart, Neil. The Game of Snakes and Arrows (accessed May 19, 2007)
  3. Stevenson, Jane Rush shows humour on new album. Jam! Showbiz Music. Canoe/Quebecor Media. Retrieved on 2008-04-21..
  4. Power Windows Rush fan site, "Rush Inspirations"
  5. Q107 Interview with Geddy Lee, "Legends of Classic Rock - Rush, the Snakes & Arrows World Album Premiere"

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