Sunday, January 12, 2020

Farewell to the King - Neil Peart

I have a lot of feelings. And news flash, there are a lot of bands that mean the world to me that are not Guster. Believe it or not.

This week, drummer extraordinaire and lyricist for the band Rush passed away. Neil Peart was 67.

Glioblastoma is listed in some articles as the cause. A colleague of mine was taken by that particular form of cancer a couple of years ago. Talent removed from this earth too soon by the same horrible disease.

The irony of the kind of cancer is not loss to me. Both of these men were of incredible intellect, amazing thinkers. My colleague was a web designer and always trying to figure out ways to game our CMS so they could make better more wonderful web presentations, and he would call me and ask "Can we test this. I have an idea..."  Neil? Well. I never met him, but listened to and loved his music, and his books, and the way the man could play the drums.

I don't think I've shared this ever, but it was 1987 and Doug and I had not been dating long. Our Christian College had certain rules about members of the opposite sex being "on the floor" at any time, and doors had to be open and feet had to be on the floor.

Doug had arranged his modular bedroom set to fit a dumpy assed recliner under it, putting the desk on the outside of the setup. We had to climb over things to get into this little cubby where we'd kind of go nuts making out whenever we had the chance. Doug would pull his bedsheets down off the bed up high, and we'd hide. And have some private time. He had a small record player and speakers set up, and we'd cuddle up and listen to a lot of music.

Doug's favorites were Bob Dylan and Rush. Mine were Genesis and Yes. We mixed it all up. And at certain points in our early relationship, there was some very passionate time spent making out to "Fly By Night." Especially fitting in all this budding prog rock romance was the song "In the End."

You can take me for a little while, you can take me you can make me smile in the end.

As far as Neil Peart's songwriting goes, it is not the deepest or most insightful song. I'm sure it is based on personal experience with someone, a private conversation that turned into a song, a story unknown to us at age 18 and 19 on a beat up piece of crap recliner hiding from the RA in Wood Hall. It's no "Dreamline" (one of my very favorites). No 2112, no Anthem, no Free Will, no Witch Hunt, no Roll the Bones, and certainly no Red Sector A.

We were young, and super hot for each other. We had to be just as sneaky as the protagonist of the song Red Barchetta, who sneaks away from the prying eyes of laws and technology (ie: the college RA and the rules) to go drive a car very fast and then hang out and laugh about it with his Uncle.

The whole album builds up to this sweet ending, and in a lot of ways, such the perfect song to put at the end of the album, and the perfect song for us. Rush was a soundtrack to our not-quite-lovemaking, as we didn't get to that point for a while (after all, we were good Christian College kids).

Here we are, all these years later and I get goosebumps when I hear songs off Fly By Night. We both probably couldn't fit in a recliner together like that anymore, and I chuckle just thinking about it.

Neil's songwriting and his books are a wonderful legacy he's left behind. I'm absolutely devastated that we lost him.  But in his own words from Dreamline, our lives are where we are "learning that we're only immortal for a limited time."

Here are some videos. Watch and listen.

By-Tor/In the End


And, because Rush is often named as the band most loved by young suburban men, I want you to remember that there are girls (like yours truly) who love and loved Rush. Girls who felt just as disenfranchised by the expectations of society and parents. Girls who were spoken to by Neil's songwriting. Girls who read the same books, thought the same thoughts, and though we were few and far between, we found the partners we needed in life, and now over 30 years later, we're still listening to Rush with those boys, recliner optional. That is a whole blog entry in and of itself, I'd say.

Nerf Herder - The Girl Who Listened to Rush

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