The song has been a staple of the band's live performances, is played regularly on classic-rock radio, and appears on several greatest-hits compilations. It was released as a single in 1982, and despite limited success on the UK charts, the song had significant airplay in Great Britain. In the United States, it charted at #8 on the Album Rock Tracks chart. Played live prior to its release, numerous pre-release live versions have circulated among collectors for years.
The song is a commentary on societal pressure to adopt a certain lifestyle, whether the "cool" youth culture. Anyone who does not conform to these expectations is regarded as an outcast.
"Subdivisions" was one of five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010. The band asked Jacob Moon to perform his version of the song at the gala in their absence.
The song became available as downloadable content for the music video game Rock Band 3 on November 2, 2010, in Basic rhythm as well as PRO mode which takes advantage of the use of a real guitar, bass guitar, and standard MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits in addition to vocals.
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- Geddy Lee - lead vocals, bass, synthesizers (Oberheim OB-X, Minimoog)
- Alex Lifeson - guitar
- Neil Peart - drums
The promotional video scenes were filmed in the Toronto, Canada area. The downtown scenes were filmed in downtown Toronto, while the suburbs scenes were filmed in Scarborough, Ontario, near Warden and Finch Avenues. The high school scenes were filmed at L'Amoreaux Collegiate Institute, in the same area. The video also features scenes of the Don Valley Parkway and a busy TTC subway station. The student that walks downtown in the video is Dave Glover, a student at the L'Amoreaux Collegiate Institute at the time.
- A version of "Subdivisions" appears on Jacob Moon's The Loop (Signpost, 2008), as well as in a viral online video of him playing the song solo live on a rooftop.
- PS I Love You covers "Subdivisions" on their 2011 Paper Bag Records release "Figure It Out".
- Rhode Island-based solo artist Andrew Lima covered "Subdivisions" on his debut covers album "Rediscoveries"(2011)
- Finnish melodic death metal band Omnium Gatherum covered the song on their 2013 album "Beyond" as a bonus track in the Limited Edition release.