Rush – the rock band actually started playing together in 1968 however, they were not yet really Rush until 1974, when perhaps the most important member of the band (believed to be the case by many fans) Neil Peart, joined vocalist, keyboardist, and bassist – Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, guitarist in the summer of 1974 to form the world’s greatest musical trio. Rush released one Album, the eponymous ‘Rush’ with drummer John Rutsey, which to be fair was not at all a bad album and certainly one can earnestly say that Rutsey was a fine drummer, but Neil Peart he was not. (Oh and 2112, released in 1976, is a concept album and their first among many to come, truly great albums).
This not a biography on Rush which you can find on Wikipedia but rather a declaration of my favorite band of all time – Rush is easily the greatest rock band, group, performance artists, etc. ever or the worst and most pretentious band to come upon the music scene. I, being a die-hard fan since 1976 (release of 2112) believe the former to be true but I certainly have heard the detractors who absolutely loathe Rush. Knowledgeable and well-respected music journalists have hurled some of the most denunciatory opinions; the invective consisting of pretentious, noise, non-commercial, chaotic (Rush is anything but chaotic), “can’t dance to” and more.
The reason for this dichotomy is because the music from Rush is profoundly unlike any other rock band musically and lyrically. Music is a matter of taste and like art; it’s difficult if not impossible to say who is better or who is the best. However, the facts are facts – whether one hates or loves the band, no one can deny that the trio is freakishly talented. Neil Peart is arguably the best drummer ever to pick up a pair of drum sticks, Geddy Lee on the bass is in the same league with John Entwistle, “Flea”, and all the other greats (Geddy also plays the keys and sings), and finally, though incredibly underrated, Alex Lifeson is far and away the greatest, most diversified guitarist (neck and neck, pun intended, with Steve Howe) there is. (Rolling Stone Magazine recently had a top 100 guitarists issue and Alex Lifeson ranked 98 – laughable !!! The ranking should have been Alex Lifeson and Steve Howe, one and two respectively and #3 could have been Page or Hendrix but the gap between the aforementioned and the other greats is a long way from Lifeson and Howe).
As for the lyrics of Rush, this is where one will hear and read – “pretentious garbage”. This is simply not true. Neil Peart who writes all the lyrics shrugs off the negative comments and will say something akin to (paraphrasing) “Pretentious ? I am not pretending to be anything, I’m simply writing from my heart and the words that come forth are sincerely the way I feel. “Unlike all other rock lyrics, the syntax is precise and perfect, the vocabulary is rich and varied, and the subject matter about which Peart writes is “deep” and profound. The meaning of life, Ayn Rand, freewill and determinism, metaphysics, science, science fiction, existentialism, death, and so much more can be found in the lyrics of Rush music. It is true that though Neil Peart can nail a piece lyrically, he sometimes misses and some songs are not very good (lyrically not musically) and may be cliché-ridden (in the song ‘Countdown’ from the album signals you will hear the passage “the excitement is so thick you can cut it with a knife”) but not unlike any other writer and poet he can write a masterpiece and at times his writing is mediocre or not good at all. The problem I have with the people (the elitist snobs, Ivy-league college professors, etc.) who say the lyrics are pretentious is the notion that just because you have a Ph.D. in Classical studies doesn’t mean you own Homer (pretentiousness is a topic for another blog). I don’t think Neil Peart even has a college degree but he’s well-read and intelligent and I’m sorry Mr. snobby Shakespearean scholar, he may very well have something fresh and insightful to say.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ? I will be spilling much more ink on Rush in the future. Do you like Rush ? Have you ever heard of Rush – lol…