Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rush inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame!

Ok, I know this has nothing to do with religion or Christianity, but may people, including myself, have almost "religious" devotion to certain bands and composers with whom we can connect.  I think my first real favorite rock n' roll band of all time is Rush and today, as I was listening to the radio, I was so overcome with joy when the names of the inductees were read and finally, finally, after many years of being passed over (wrongly), Rush is now an official member of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

There are few bands which have the musical chops that Rush does.  Geddy Lee has inspired more bass players than anyone else save for, maybe, Paul McCartney. Unlike Paul McCartney, Geddy can actually play bass and play it well (McCartney stepped into it simply because no one else would).  Geddy's rubbery tone on his vintage Fender Jazz Bass is the standard tone which no one else can replicate.  (To be honest, I'm rather disappointed that Geddy tends to slap more and has adopted a more percussive tone, but that's another part of Rush's longevity: their ability to innovate, push the limits and not be pigeonholed into one "style" or "genre"). Also, Geddy's ability to play keyboards, bass and sing at the same time is a small miracle in of itself.  Not everyone is a fan of Geddy's voice (Micki Mouse on Helium is a common insult hurled at him), but for the 1970s, it was quite appropriate when you consider that Rush initially sounded like Zeppelin only to incorporate more and more progressive elements such as King Crimson.

Likewise Neil Peart, the Professor.  This is a drummer without equal.  Just listen to the opening fast section of the Overture to 2112 and listen to those fills.  He just doesn't keep the beat, he owns the beat. He makes the drums an integral part of the melody.  Peart also doesn't stand still with his musical development.  He produced an entire album (on his own time) to Buddy Rich, a swing drummer.  He even incorporated some swing drumming into 1996's Test for Echo where he was really cutting the downbeat very close to give a little bit of a "dragging effect" which really lends well to the overall "alternative" sound that the band was going for at the time.  Neil Peart also authors the band's lyrics and though he too has been lampooned by the critics, his lyrics are thoughtful and free from the cursing which is omnipresent in other bands' lyrics (but that's art, remember).  Mr. Peart suffered two tragedies with in a year: He lost his daughter in a car accident and then his wife less than a year later from cancer.  I cannot imagine (nor would I presume to) the pain he suffered at the time.  I'm sure a lot of that was reflected in his songs.

Finally, Alex Lifeson.  Sometimes considered the least talented member of the group, he's still head and shoulders above most guitarists in the biz.  In a trio, it's very tempting for the guitarist to just play a lot of power chords.  Alex did a lot of that at first, but he soon became much more linear in his playing and I think he is one of rock's best contextualists along with the Edge of U2 (though Alex is better).  I think Alex has also consistently gotten better as a guitar player over his 40 years with Rush.  Each album, I think, shows some new growth.

A small tribute should be given to John Rutsey, Rush's first drummer.  He played on Rush's first album.  He was dismissed from the band, not because of bad drumming or bad behaviors, but because he was a diabetic and the incessant touring after the first album really caught up with him.  John formed Rush and got them their first gigs and even came up with the name.  He died a few years ago from complications due to diabetes.

Even bloggers on the subject of religion can still be fans of rock n' roll, right?  Rush has been a staple of my musical library for about 20 years now. And I'm disappointed that it took me so long to discover them. The person who brought Rush to my attention was named Steve who worked maintenance at one of the Sprint buildings (when they had a lot of buildings) in the Kansas City area.  I worked there during the summer.  He was the one that brought them to my attention so I went out and bought 2112.

For the longest time, I though rock n' roll was boring and mundane and loud and clumsy.  They changed my perceptions entirely.  Through them, I began to bridge out to discover a lot of other bands I really connected with such as Queen, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, Cream, Metallica, Dio, Black Sabbath, Kansas, Alice in Chains, Queensryche, Soundgarden, etc.  That's a pretty diverse list only because Rush has a pretty diverse repertoire.  You can find elements of all the sub-genres of rock n' roll in Rush's music spanning four decades.

Well, enough of being a fan.  Congratulations, Rush.  Well deserved. I'm sure the critics are up in arms that you finally got in, but you deserve it.

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