As I sit here grappling with the sad departure of Neil Peart, for good reason commonly referred to as the legendary drummer and lyricist for the Canadian rock trio Rush, I’m less grief-stricken than I originally was and are becoming more reflective. Along with millions of other fans worldwide I cried hard in the first few hours after hearing the news of his passing. It hurts bad, but the tears have subsided.
Rush has played such an essential role in my life it is impossible to imagine my world without those three guys. My first exposure to their music was sneaking my sister’s Archives album from her album collection. I would stare at their pictures and read the liner notes while listening to the incredible music on that compilation of the first three records: Rush, Fly By Night, and Caress of Steel. The following year, 1979, following the release of their fourth album, Hemispheres, my uncle brought my sister and me to see them at Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. A cooler thing couldn’t have occurred to a twelve-year-old kid. Wildlife Removal Round Rock
Though complex occasionally, the ideas presented in their songs fascinated my youthful mind and made me think differently about things. Somehow just knowing those 3 guys were out there made me feel much better. Their songs elevate me to this day.
Their music holds a fee and the lyrics are outside thought-provoking; they are expanding. Rush told us it was fine to care, to love, to be afraid, to wonder and be different. They made us feel and think. In the tune Vital Signs they told us it’s imperative:”Everybody got to deviate from the norm.”
With eleven Rush concerts under my belt I am far below level of several die-hard fans but that does not mean they have not had an impact. Rush has made more of an effect on my life than any other band, musically and philosophically.
When I think about it, why I am so saddened by Neil Peart’s passing is the very reason I am so motivated to continue and become better than the man I was yesterday. A lot of us have been immeasurably influenced by Neil Peart’s words and his life. He told us, and indeed showed us, how important it is to fill up our”boxcars” with experiences and wonder. As my train rolls down the paths of life I will be loading them up more than ever.
There will be no more shows. No more albums. Rush is forever in our memories and in our ears. The last show my wife and I attended was August 10, 2015, in row two of the R40 show in Philadelphia, 36 years after my first concert, and the year they announced it will be their final tour. Fans hoped there might be another album but that was the ending. Four and a half years after Neil Peart is gone.
I often thought of what I would say if I ever struck Neil someplace out and about on his travels. He was a private person, put off and humiliated by adulation. I figured if I ever encountered him I’d just say thank you. The same holds true for Alex and Geddy, just a thank you and a handshake. Perhaps a selfie.
So there is just 1 thing to say now: Rest In Peace Neil Peart, and thank you.