3 Man Band of the Week – RUSH

Lovable Rush

Lovable Rush

You either love Rush or hate Rush.  There is no middle ground.  Nor would I ever attempt to convert a Rush-hater.  But for better or for Rush, here’s the three-man band of the week.

The father of one of the girls I grew up with – Gin Marie – was a drummer in a band that never got any further than the bars around town, despite the fact that they were better (at least when they were sober) than many of the bands you hear on the radio.  Needless to say, there was always music at Gin Marie’s house.  I owe much of my taste to Gin Marie’s dad, Red.

So anyway, my mother dropped me off at Gin Marie’s house one snowy Friday night, and when I opened the door, all I could hear coming out of Red’s huge speakers was “Tom Sawyer.” Red was airdrumming with his hero, Neil Peart, and I was transfixed.  This was an enormous sound, one that literally filled the house, yet still managed to be exact; you could hear each crack of the cymbals, each note of the bass.  I ran over to Red and pulled his sleeve and said, “what IS that?”

For the asking, I got about an hour and half sermon about Rush.  About how Neil Peart was the best drummer on earth AND the best lyricist, and how Geddy Lee had one of the best ranges in rock, and Alex Lifeson was a genius.  Well, I was sold.  When I went home, I got out the heretofore-ignored copy of Moving Pictures that had somehow made it’s way into my record collection and listened to the whole thing at least three times in a row.

From that first experience with “Tom Sawyer,” I loved the intricacy of Rush, from the music to the lyrics.  Sad to say, I am the only person I know other than Red who feels this way.  But for the rest of you Rush lovers out there, here are a few of my favorites…

I’m only posting two songs, and both are from Permanent Waves, which after discovering Rush, was even more appealing to me than the later Moving Pictures.  Besides, if you are a true Rush fan, you know that there’s little left that hasn’t been said about Moving Pictures.

Spirit of the Radio:

One of my dreams as a child was to be a radio DJ.  I got to do this for awhile in college, so I can check this off my list.  Anyway, this song sums up how I always felt about radio, how pervasive it was in my entire life.  I’m just going to post the lyrics:

Begin the day
With a friendly voice
A companion, unobtrusive
Plays that song thats so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood

Off on your way
Hit the open road
There is magic at your fingers
For the spirit ever lingers
Undemanding contact
In your happy solitude

Invisible airwaves
Crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle
With the energy
Emotional feedback
On a timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price —
Almost free…

All this machinery
Making modern music
Can still be open-hearted
Not so coldly charted
Its really just a question
Of your honesty

One likes to believe
In the freedom of music
But glittering prizes
And endless compromises
Shatter the illusion
Of integrity

For the words of the profits
Are written on the studio wall,
Concert hall —
Echoes with the sounds…
Of salesmen.

So maybe it’s actually about how something as wonderful as radio is corruptible.  It’s still an awesome song, and I give you this as evidence: how many song lyrics have you seen that you can read? The lyrics read like poetry, what with the alliteration in the lines, the careful choice of words. Put that with music that ROCKS and you have perfection, people.

Freewill:

Again, I’ll just have to post the lyrics:

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
With a host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars aren’t aligned —
Nor the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose freewill

There are those who think that they’ve been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them —
They weren’t born in lotus-land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You cant pray for a place
In heavens unearthly estate

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That’s far too fleet…

While “Freewill” is not as perfect lyrically as “Spirit of the Radio,” it exemplifies the unique space that Rush occupies in prog-metal – you may be headbanging, but while you’re at it, you have something profound to think about.

When I was in college, I was in an advanced English class where I had to keep a journal that discussed the readings and topics we covered in the class. I don’t remember the subject, but my response was to write parts of the lyrics from this song.  My bemused prof only gave me partial credit.  Hater.

And just so you know, Rush has been the subject of a Congressional debate.  This from that torchbearer of journalism, The Onion:

Congress Debates Coolness Of Rush

August 9, 2000 | Issue 36•27

WASHINGTON, DC–Continuing its long-running debate on the subject Monday, members of Congress argued the merits of Canadian power trio Rush. “‘The philosopher and the plowman, each must play his part’?” asked House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). “C’mon. Neil Peart must be the most pretentious lyricist in arena-rock history. Gentlemen, forget these bloated, overrated ’70s dinosaurs.” Countered longtime Rush loyalist Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR): “Keep talking, man, the tunes say it all: ‘Passage To Bangkok’? ‘By-Tor And The Snow Dog’? That part in ‘Red Barchetta’ where [Rush bassist/vocalist] Geddy [Lee] sings about the gleaming alloy aircar shooting toward him two lanes wide? Look me in the eye and tell me that doesn’t rock, motherfucker!” The deliberations are expected to continue throughout the week.


10 Comments

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10 responses to “3 Man Band of the Week – RUSH

  1. Ross

    Spirit of Radio was a tribute to a local radio station CFNY that peaked in popularity in the eighties.

    I first saw rush in the summer of 1974 playing at a local fair. I thought wow what an incredible sound that this trio was putting out.
    Saw them numerous times during the seventies and they sort of fell out of favour with me.
    Looking back over their catalogue they did put out some incredible music.
    My son is a drummer and guess who one of his idols is…Neil Peart
    I do agree with you that one either likes or dislikes them.
    Thanks
    R
    Toronto

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  4. Sexy Nerd

    Thanks for recognizing the magnitude of Rush. I’ve been a fan since I first heard “Cygnus X-1” when I was 14 (in 1979). Oh, and I also play drums and write lyrics. Coincidence? Hmm. 🙂

  5. Sexy Nerd

    Thanks for appreciating the magnitude of Rush. I hear “Cygnus X-1” when I was 14 (in 1979) and have been a huge fan ever since. Neil’s drumming and lyrics inspired me both to write lyrics and play drums, and I’m still doing it. Oh, and I even shaved down the beard yesterday to a moustache.

    I’m either experiencing an existential crisis, or am just happy that Rush is still around after all these years.

  6. When I’m introducing people to Rush, I usually say that their music is poetry put to rock. They are brilliant! Love your song choices!

    “We each pay a fabulous price for our visions of paradise.”

    ^I mean, please, who writes lyrics like that anymore?

  7. J.R. Clark

    Led Zeppelin was the toadstool that spawned spores of gawdawful bands like Rush with unintentionally funny castrato singers, laughably pretentious lyrics (We are the priests of the Temple of Syrinx!), and interminable guitar/bass/drum wankery.

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