Neil Peart: See You Again Sometime Down the Road...
Edited, and likely to continue to be edited, to tweak phrasing and add more links to articles.
The news was so unexpected. I was waiting at home to pick my wife up from the Metro station and go to dinner, and just decided to peek at Facebook for repack news. I saw a post from Scott Fybush saying he wasn't sure why Q107 in Toronto hadn't gone all Rush. That could only be bad news. I went to RushIsABand as I often do, and there it was.
I don't know that I'm ready to live in a world without Neil Peart. I know that he was retired and we likely weren't going to hear more music from him, but it was enough to know that he was out there, hopefully enjoying life in his well-deserved retirement. Living in the same world as him was enough.
My wife doesn't really get my relationship to Rush, unfortunately. My father is a Rush fan. I probably heard Rush in the womb before I was born. Some of my earliest memories are of listening to Rush in the house in New Jersey before my family moved to Virginia when I was 6. My first concert was Rush. My dad had Rush pictures and lyrics from some of his favorite songs like "Witch Hunt" and "Bravado" on the wall in the house. I spent my college years listening to Rush on a loop, essentially. I turned "Xanadu" into a unit of time that was 12 minutes in length. (My first year of college, it took 1 and a half Xanadus to leave my dorm room, get to the dining hall to pick up food, and come back and continue working on RabbitEars.) I used to wear a Rush wristband every day, until my last one broke. Rush lyrics are at the bottom of most of the pages of this website and in the signature sections of most of my message board accounts. Rush has never not been there in one form or another.
I had always wanted to be a drummer because of Neil Peart and Rush. I never became one, but I still drum my fingers along to things, in the car or on my laptop's palm rest. But he wasn't just the drummer, he was the lyricist. And quite the lyricist he was. I knew the word "alienation" a lot younger than most people would because Neil used it in "Limelight." He was not afraid to use the right word, even if it was a bigger word than one might expect to find in rock music. He wasn't afraid to put deep messages into Rush's songs.
The fact of the matter is that I felt like Rush spoke about me at times. I never really cared what other people thought, and wouldn't be where I am if I had. So did they. After their Caress of Steel album was poorly received, they were told to make a more radio friendly album; they responded, instead, by releasing the 2112 album, which had the 20 minute long "2112" as the first track, having decided they would prefer to fail genuinely than cater to the preferences of the label. Their music was full of messages that resonated. My favorite song is "Witch Hunt," about how people can be so easily whipped up into a frenzy over things they don't understand, even when there's nothing inherently bad about those things. I love "Subdivisions," about how people feel they need to fit in and how hard it is for people who don't. As you read about them, you'll find so many others identify with songs like "Subdivisions" or "Everyday Glory" or many others.
But beyond that, they are good people. I'm currently reading my sister's Christmas gift to me, Rush: Wandering the Face of the Earth, The Official Touring History. There's so much commentary from so many about how nice they were to people around them. And, of course, you're seeing it now in the outpouring in social media. I've seen multiple postcards on Twitter from people who had written Neil, and Neil found the time to write them back. People who got through to the shy guy who had no problem performing before thousands but couldn't handle receiving a compliment spoke of a wonderfully kind and gracious person. I fully believe it.
And it's not just me who feels such affection for these guys that most of us have never met. If you really want a sense of it, go watch the video of the beginning of the ceremony for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was something that Rush fans pushed for many years, and even other bands wondered why Rush hadn't made it in yet.
When I heard the news, for as many people quoted songs like Tom Sawyer, Closer to the Heart, The Spirit of Radio, Afterimage (about the sudden loss of a friend the group worked with), or The Garden (the last song on the last album), the first song I personally wanted to hear was Natural Science. I thought it was an odd choice for the moment, but when I was finally able to listen to it, I made the choice to have the lyrics before me as I listened, and I decided my subconscious made the right call. From the end of the song:
"Wave after wave
Will flow with the tide
And bury the world as it does
Tide after tide
Will flow and recede
Leaving life to go on as it was..."
It will be okay.
Mike Portnoy on Facebook
The American Conservative
Las Vegas Review-Journal
The New Yorker
The Globe and Mail
Kevin J. Anderson on Facebook
Styx' Todd Sucherman
Prince George Citizen
The Chronicle Herald
A Fox News Sports Report Script - YouTube
Triumph's Gil Moore
New York Times
Global News - Winnipeg
Ultimate Classic Rock
Godsmack's Sully Erna
The Music Express
Sound and Vision
A Journal of Musical Things
Doane Perry on Facebook - "This was always my first question when I saw him. “Any pain?” I asked. “No pain”, came the reply. "
Kevin J. Anderson Photo
Inside the Setlist
SPIN - 5 Most Powerful Song Lyrics - I actually agree with four of five.
Working Them Angels
Good News First