Prompted by rumors of the retirement of Neil Peart, I wanted to share memories of my life with Rush playing in my memories as recognition of this great Canadian rock band, who have been there with me growing up and getting older.
My Rush story starts in 1981, when, as a sweaty, long-haired punk 11-year-old, I bought my first single “Tom Sawyer” by this rock band that had been fascinating me since watching a friend play songs from the Hemispheres album on a piano, sight reading the music from a transcription book (remember those?). This friend just so happened to be a chorister in a choir I sang with…phew, rock and roll!
I bought the single from a local record store in Wales (long since demolished), which was great, but spent many years thinking Geddy Lee was singing “spacey invaders fly on you“, rather than the correct lyrics of “and the space he invades, he gets by on you“. Oh, my young embarrassment!
However, more of a favorite for me was the B-side of “Passage To Bangkok (Live)”, which I adored for its trippy lyrics and energy. Again, I misheard the lyrics, but in the context of the song about drugs, “we only stop for the best” could have been “we only stop for the feds“.
After my first taste of Rush, I moved onto the less favored Eighties output, getting Power Windows and Hold Your Fire on vinyl – I would cycle back in my college years to other albums, such as Signals and Grace Under Pressure.
Power Windows is probably my favorite album of Rush and it convinced me that Geddy Lee was the greatest bass player in the world (a view I still hold) and that Neil Peart was the best drummer (still a believer).
The album consumed my teenage years and I would try for hours to play bass along to the record, failing miserably.
I joined a band in school on the back of this record and yet, 30 years on, I still cannot play a single part of it! I suppose having no musical talent made that inevitable…
Hold Your Fire was a great album underrated by many. From “Force Ten” to “Time Stands Still” to “Prime Mover” and “Mystic Rhythms“, the record moves me. I enjoyed the video to “Time Stands Still” and Peter Collins did a great job on the production.
College gave me to time to delve back into Rush past masters. I remember having a dubbed cassette with Signals on one side and Grace Under Pressure on the other. I played the records continuously whilst studying and drinking. I always remember telling all that would care to listen that “Analog Kid” had the best guitar solo of all time (still one of my favorites).
Interestingly, when waiting on tables during my holidays from college, I used to sneak on A Farewell To Kings as background music – fine until “Xanadu” rumbled round, just as the sweet trolley was being moved around and customers started to complain.
Rush music would always be around me when I was studying and the complex time signatures and thoughtful lyrics set the band apart as I graduated.
Life Gets Serious Waves…
My career started in 1992 when I got my first proper job. At the same time, a friends’ band was starting to gain some local gigs. A particular favorite cover was Rush‘s “The Spirit Of Radio” and I spent a lot of time trying to see first hand how the boys were playing the song. It became their anthem and happy days were spent hauling their gear from sweating bar to bar.
Rush released other great albums that followed me around at that time, including the overlooked majesty of Counterparts. I remember the songs going around with me, as I navigated the complexities of full-time work and adult responsibilities.
Other albums I remember from that time also included Test For Echo, which I thought was a bit duff and then Vapor Trails, which followed on after the tragedies that befell Neil Peart‘s family. Neither of these spoke to me like earlier records and I did lose interest until much later.
30 Years and on…
Feedback and the R30 Tour brought me back to the fold. I was going nowhere in my personal and professional life and the covers for Feedback made me feel good about the world. The band came to tour locally and I got to see them perform a three hour set which was absolutely storming.
Likewise, Snakes and Arrows was a return to form and happy times were had listening to “Far Cry” and the rest of the great sounding album. I remember driving over some local mountain roads listening to the record at high volume, thinking it doesn’t get any better than this.
Better Times on the Clock…
My career took a nosedive and I spent a short while unemployed. However, once again, Rush was there to help. I went to see the tour in 2010 when I was laid off and it helped take my mind off the troubles I was experiencing…I even formulated a Plan B on the way home from the concert…Never needed to be executed, but it stuck in my mind.
For all the great music and all the great gigs and all the great lyrics, I salute you guys! Long may your legacy continue and hopefully it is not quite the end.