I was 10 years old the first time I heard the band Rush. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were on a sailing trip with our friends the Gracias, staying on a mooring in Martha’s Vineyard.
Our boats were rafted together in Edgartown harbor. After dinner, the adults stayed on our boat and the kids went over to the Gracias’ 40-foot Hinckley. We were playing the card game Uno down below, listening to music.
All of a sudden, this live album came on. You could hear the crowd. Then lead singer Geddy Lee announced, “This is the spirit of the radio.” The roar of the crowd reached a crescendo. Alex Lifeson’s guitar came alive, then with Neil Peart on drums, all three came in together, slowly building the suspense, and then took off. I was blown away. “Who is this?” I asked. Karen and David, who were older than me, said, “You’ve never heard of Rush?”
When we got back to Mattapoisett, the first thing I did was buy the Moving Pictures album. I must have listened to it a thousand times. Staring at the album cover as I listened, I always used to wonder if the three members of Rush were nice guys. I really wanted them to be nice guys and didn’t want to be disappointed.
Being a drummer, I was immediately drawn to Neil Peart. “Dad, he plays drums set up in a 360, all around him, while the whole thing spins on stage,” I’d say. Then I’d play the record for him, and he’d say, “You call that music?” Rush has always had that love/hate relationship with listeners.
Last week, Rush was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A loyal fan base has kept the band relevant all these years, helping Rush sell the third-most consecutive platinum or gold studio albums behind only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Rush is the Canadian invasion you never heard about.
I’m looking forward to watching the ceremony on HBO on May 18. On a recent flight back from Key West, I watched Dave Grohl’s documentary, Sound City. It’s about an old-fashioned analog system, called the Neve 8078, that was used to record classic albums at Sound City Studios. The Neve recorded songs the way a band wanted them to sound, warm and with a human touch, mistakes and all. It’s fitting that Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, current torchbearers of the classic analog sound, will present Rush—one of the originals for that sound.
I’ve been listening to my 180-gram high-def vinyl Permanent Waves album through my McIntosh integrated amplifier and Klipsch speakers. Even today, I like holding the album cover and looking at it while listening, reading the credits. Neil Peart wrote all the lyrics for Rush. He was inspired by Ayn Rand to write the lyrics to the song “Anthem.” Rush has always been about the power and strength of the individual. As it turns out, nice guys don’t have to finish last. Congratulations, Rush.