Saturday, July 03, 2010

Rush Revisited

CDs in Play: Rush, Permanent Waves. Mastodon, Crack the Skye. The Cheese Pickles, Mr. O'Riley's Magic Cellar.

Rush was one of the bands for me all through Junior High and High School. I listened to them obsessively, over and over as I tend to do with music I like. I spent time trying to learn songs like "Witch Hunt", "Jacob's Ladder", "The Trees" and "Natural Science" - which irked my guitar teachers, who wanted me to learn "Tom Sawyer" and "Closer to the Heart" like all their other students. I even tried to learn the 18 minute long "Hemispheres" and the 20 minute "2112". Stop laughing at me.
Rush was a part of my identity growing up. Back in the day, you could get clobbered for listening to the wrong music. Seriously! I don't know what it is like now, but metal heads would try and pound the crap out of guys who didn't conform. Moving into Junior High from Grade 7, I liked some of the bands that would earn a kid a pounding. The Police were considered to be a "girl band" and the only good thing about them was Stewart Copeland, to the minds of metal heads. I also liked U2. No one knew who they were, but once they saw the cover to October threats of beatings would ensue.
My step brothers had introduced me to Black Sabbath. (via 8 track, I believe) I liked it, but my Mum and Step Dad were attending a Charismatic church at the time so Black Sabbath was considered evil. The same went for so many bands that I liked. I might switch churches but the attitude was very much the same. Try as I might, there just wasn't much in the way of "Christian Rock" that I liked, aside from Daniel Amos. Even U2 were considered dodgy by some Christians.
I liked Rush when I first heard them around the time Signals came out. "New World Man" was played often on radio and I liked the song. Rush were the perfect band for a guy in my situation: metal heads, more often than not, liked Rush or at least didn't mind them and church people usually had no clue who they were. If they did and have concerns, it was pretty easy to quiet their objections by showing them lyrics or explaining the concepts.
Aside from that, I was obsessed with Rush's music. I saw them on the Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows tours. As a kid on the outside of things for the most part, Rush were an outsider's band and offered a sense of belonging in a weird sort of way. But then the album Hold Your Fire came along. I have never been able to listen that album without falling asleep. It was a disappointment. Presto in 1991 was a dramatic improvement, but Roll the Bones was another let down for me - although the concert was very good. My interest in Rush began to wane and I slowly stopped listening to their music altogether sometime around 1994 when Counterparts came out.
Periodically, my friend Greg would try to get me back into them. My friend's Doug and Lionel also tried to get me to rekindle the flame, but it just wasn't happening. I switched my cable provider from Shaw to Sask Tel recently, and I have access to their movie component, Front Row. One of the films they are showing is the recent documentary, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. I missed it at a limited engagement at one of the local theatres, but when I saw the poster it piqued my curiosity. Watching it reawakened good feelings, good memories and that sense of the connection I once had to their music.
I am prone to nostalgia, it is true, but this has allowed me to rediscover a band that once meant quite a bit to me. It's not a bad thing really. Sometimes we need to go back to go forward.

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