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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.

====

Lawrence Gowan of Styx performed part of Limelight last night. It's beautiful.

Proposal for a statue at Lakeside Park
Editorial on the memorial
Tribute to Peart overdue says mayor

Selected reading:
Geddy Lee
Donna Halper
Chris Stankee
Lesley Choyce
Mike Goldberg
National Post
The Guardian
Buffalo News
LA Times
Space.com
National Review
Billboard
Mike Portnoy on Facebook
Mike Portnoy
Fantoons
Philip Wilding
Diogenes Communications
NPR
Stephen Humphries
The American Conservative
Las Vegas Review-Journal
John Ivison
The New Yorker
The Globe and Mail
Scott Blitstein
Inc.com
Rolling Stone
Toronto Sun
The Star
Kenny Aronoff
Scott Travis
Patrick Lyons
Alexander Kunz
ECW Press
Kevin J. Anderson on Facebook
Velvet Thunder
The Week
Styx' Todd Sucherman
Prince George Citizen
Washington Post
Houston Press
The Chronicle Herald
Matt Crossman
A Fox News Sports Report Script - YouTube
Triumph's Gil Moore
New York Times
Hudson Music
Eric Garcia
CBR
Global News - Winnipeg
Vinay Menon
Sonic Perspectives
NoLa.com
Ultimate Classic Rock
Newsweek
Godsmack's Sully Erna
MusicTap
Ross Halfin
Marty Morin
The Music Express
Max Mobley
Sound and Vision
Herald Extra
The Post-Journal
Charleston Gazette-Mail
VICE
Buffalo Rising
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
Pop Matters
Cato Institute
Inside the Setlist
SPIN - 5 Most Powerful Song Lyrics - I actually agree with four of five.
Chicago Sun-Times
Melita Hoffman
AIER
Casey Neill
Andrew Berthoff
Tor.com

Junkdrummer TV (on YouTube)
Gonzalo Lira (on YouTube)
Rush on South Park, Family Guy, Trailer Park Boys

A recommended playlist of songs that weren't top hits for those who want to hear some more obscure highlights:
Natural Science
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Afterimage
Marathon
Bravado
Resist
The Pass
Presto
Working Them Angels
Good News First
Headlong Flight
The Garden

Comments

1. On Sunday, January 12 2020, 13:57 by Freethinker

Seeing Neil in concert was an amazing experience, but it's important to understand that what made him an outstanding human being was his sense of compassion, not only for fans of Rush, but for fans of logic and truth. Before this disturbing event (Neil's passing), at times when I would need an emotional boost, it would be easy to find lyrics from songs that spanned 40 years to fit many occasions -- good and bad. I particularly cherish the memories of my son dancing to Red Barchetta when he was 4, running back and forth between the speakers, expressing himself as only a 4-year-old can, waving his arms with a look of ecstasy on his face. Thank you, Neil.

2. On Sunday, January 12 2020, 13:58 by Marty

I spent many nights in my youth escaping the real world by inserting my Rush mix tape into the cassette player, slipping my Koss headphones onto my head, pressing the play button until it locked down then cranking up the volume, sinking back and drifting off to visions of an antique red Italian sports car outrunning the robot police cars of a not too distant future.

3. On Sunday, January 12 2020, 14:39 by Skip Daly

A beautiful tribute. Thank you.

4. On Saturday, January 18 2020, 22:57 by Mike

Wish I could write like that. Wow.
-.-- -.-- --..

Neil was right up there with Ginger Baker.

5. On Wednesday, January 22 2020, 01:25 by Arti Mimpi Primbon

Hello, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse
every one is sharing data, that's in fact good, keep up writing.

6. On Wednesday, January 22 2020, 15:01 by lotto_pi

Neil's passing is a big loss for rock music. Nice writeup.

Some of my more obscure faves:
Cinderella Man
Bastille Day
Half the World

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10. On Sunday, January 26 2020, 12:21 by ZippyTheChicken

I can understand your feelings behind his passing... I saw Rush perform with Aerosmith when they were just getting started... also saw ACDC open for KISS and get kicked off the stage heh... Philly Fans are tough heh... Music is part of our lives and popular music often sets a tone... you will see that over time and today you see the performers out there and you can see how they have degraded humanity... they have nothing to really offer except perversion drugs and violence... but it is not true of every artist... Rush was not one of my favorite bands back then when they were super popular.. I am probably your dad's age... and today I listen to female kpop bands like Twice... what I see in Twice is honorable.. they put out joy and happiness and cuteness which the world needs.. they aren't niki minaje drugging the men she dated to roll them for money.. or snoop the pothead who says you don't have to better yourself... I don't like the boy bands in KPOP or any pop boy bands I think they put off a weakness if you know what I mean..

But it is difficult growing up listening to whats now called Classic Rock.. I was listening to deep purple's first album when I was 4 at a neighbors house.. bought Zeppelin Presence when it came out when I was in 5th Grade... That music is part of me and always will be... People get attached to the words and drive those meanings into their own lives.. sometimes thats good and sometimes its bad.

I will tell you the reality though.. No Music was ever written about you.. you or me... Much of the time artists don't even write about their own lives.. its fiction.. its stories..

So its best not to make it your life because it isn't...

Now Neil was a good guy and you never really heard the same scandels about him that you did other performers and thats a good thing... but he was just a guy that was talented. a guy that some promoter saw and they pushed them into the limelight and made them heros and millionaires.

I knew a guy that this happened to.. he was a guitarist for a band that was in the top 10 bands in the 80's 90's .. he grew up around the corner from a friends house.. first time i heard him play my advise to him was save half your money because this business screws you... Now he is retired and he teaches music in Georgia and he is living a good but quiet life.. the lead singer turned into a drug addict... tried to make too many comebacks until people got repulsed by him... once in a while he gets a gig in a crap bar in Texas...

The hardest thing to come to terms with is that these people are just people and really thats all they want is to be treated like people.. some want to be rich.. but most of them just want to share their talent because they work so hard to attain it...

Neil was one of the lucky ones but you must know that he went his own way.. he would ride his bike to gigs and not travel with the band... he was in his own head and happy to be there.. and because of that he is remembered with honor and his career isn't like many a nightmare at the end...

but I tell you what when someone like this dies... you stop for a moment and you understand .. life goes on without all of us eventually.. so while you are here... you do your best... and try to bring smiles to others ... and hopefully honor God the best you can.

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