Well, I had a sinking feeling that 2020 was going to be a giant shit of a year and it just started off with a bang. First post of the year and it has to be a eulogy to one of my favorite musicians of all time.
Those of you that know me know that Iron Maiden is my favorite band. Now, if they are #1, Rush would be #1a. Rush has always been a band that polarizes people. It seems that people either really love Rush or they really don’t care for them at all. I am of the opinion that their 40+ year career is one of the most innovative and creative and, dare I say, classy in the history of rock/metal music. And although I’ve always viewed Rush as three equal parts, it is hard to understate the importance Neil Peart was to the creative entity that was Rush.
In my early days, a big part of me wanted to be a rock drummer. Peart was instrumental in this dream. He made the drums more than just a timepiece. He made the drums musical. His memorable fills and intricate rhythms were as recognizable as any classic guitar riff or singer’s melody. I’m fairly certain that he made air drumming a thing. In addition to his mastery of the drums, he was the wordsmith of the band and penned the great majority of their lyrics over the years. In a lot of rock music, the lyrics are usually fairly banal and usually take a back seat to the music and presentation. Peart was different in this regard. Thoughtfully nicknamed The Professor, he used his well-read background to forge lyrics that challenged and inspired the listener. Who amongst us weren’t able to relate to the sentiments of Subdivisions or get whisked away to sci fi and fantasy tales such as Cygnus X-1 or 2112? Peart was an unparalleled talent and the world will be a little bit less interesting without him.
In addition to his music endeavors, Peart was a wonderful writer. For such an introverted person, Peart would pour himself onto the page. I found it interesting that he was known for being such a private and guarded person and yet he would bear the raw emotion and heartbreak for everyone to read. If you were a Rush and Peart fan, I cannot recommed his memoir, Ghost Rider, which centered on his attempts at rebuilding a life that was shattered when his daughter was killed in a car accident and then his wife later succumbed to cancer. He embarks on a cross country motorcycle journey that took him across both Canada and the U.S. It’s a moving look at loss and the grieving process and also serves as a wonderfully descriptive travelogue for North America.
So, pull out Farewell to Kings. Rock out to YYZ. Do the air drum fills to Tom Sawyer. Celebrate the life of Neil. Because we’re only immortal for a limited time.