There have only been two bands that I’d listened to for the first time that made an immediate impact on me. An immediate impact that provided a feeling that exudes excitement and a desire for more.
The first band to do that was N’Sync. Come on, be honest, who didn’t like those shiny, bright pop songs about girls, heartbreak and the tough times growing up in an upper-middle class family in suburban Florida. Who didn’t?! Anyone? Alright, fine.
The next band to rock my psyche was the Canadian power trio Rush. The first song that I heard by them was “The Spirit of Radio” off 1980’s Permanent Waves.
It hit me like nothing had hit me before.
The opening arpeggios of Alex Lifeson’s guitar rang up and down my spinal cord, Geddy Lee sounded like a chick and Neil Peart’s drums were thunderous. He made me want to be a drummer for about 15 minutes until I said to myself, “no, Peter, you play trombone, you wish you could play drums like Neil Peart, but you can’t, stop it.”
No other band since Rush has been able to do that to me, and I’m not quite sure why. Was it because I had coincidentally gone through my Canadian classic rock phase during my sophomore year of high school? Perhaps. I just thought they were musically and visually more interesting than other band I had listened to.
Musically because they used an assortment of different textures and instruments that at the time had never been used before, they were in fact the first band to effectively use the synthesizer before any artist that had released music in the 1980’s. Visually, believe it or not, they were more of a spectacle than they were musically because they acted and looked like themselves.
The latter statement led me to this conclusion: I enjoy what Rush stands for more than I enjoy the music of Rush.
I like Rush because they are who they are. They never pretended to be someone they were not. In the 1970’s, an era where glam and decadence were considered cool and were considered an effective way to gain popularity and sell records, Rush were the antithesis.
They didn’t look or act pretty. Lee had hair down to his butt, Lifeson had bad teenage-esque skin into his 40’s and Neil Peart never really smiled and never gave interviews because he let his drums do the talking for him. They wrote lyrics that were extremely philosophical and somewhat esoteric. I mean, who writes lines like “quiet and pensive, my thoughts apprehensive”? Or even something like “but glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity”? I have no idea what any of that means whatsoever, but they made it rock harder than anything I will ever hear.
While some people have never liked nor understood Rush, they have to respect them for being themselves and for introducing ideas and concepts that, many would argue, could be considered precursors to alternative rock.
So after hearing the news this week about Rush being nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my response was “it’s about time.”
Not only had Rush made an impact on the music of their generation, but they made perhaps an even bigger impact on musicians today as The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Mettalica’s Kirk Hammet have testified in favor of Rush being the most genuine, unique and understated band in the history of music.
It just so happens that this year is also the first year that the Hall is offering the fan’s to vote for an artist to be inducted. So here is my shameless plug for Rush; to end the ridiculousness of Rush not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, log onto rockhall.com and vote for three of the greatest musicians that rock has ever seen.
Rush is good and all, but pick up next week’s issue of the Torch to hear my case for the induction of Grand Funk Railroad!