Sunday, January 12, 2020

A farewell to the king: Goodbye, Neil Peart

Sure, I've put together a top 10 list or two in my day. But the practice of ranking and quantifying artists and artworks is generally not something I place much stock in. Let's just say, though, that someone were to ask me to name my favorite band. I've answered craw in the past, and I take nothing away from their towering significance within my personal pantheon. But if we're talking about the one whose music I've spent more time with than any other, whose output has provided me with the greatest amount of spirit food for the longest span of time, it has to be Rush and no other.

They've been my happy place for so long, I can't even remember a time before. Just about every album. (Honestly, the self-titled debut might be the only one I don't adore.) Nearly every song. Throughout all those records, there are maybe four or five tracks I don't outright love. (Strangely, two of them, "Chemistry" and "Countdown," happen to be on the same LP, Signals, which is otherwise maybe my favorite Rush album.) All the DVDs and live albums, which in recent years, I've gone back to as much if not more than the studio records. Five live shows, stretching back to April of '94, when I had my mind blown by the Counterparts tour, and including the Snakes and Arrows tour in 2007, the Time Machine run in 2010 (Moving Pictures front to back), the Clockwork Angels tour in 2012 and the phenomenal R40 in 2015.

But also, like, two half-marathons completed with predominantly Rush blasting in my headphones. Runs, walks, subway rides. Moments of hazy pre-sleep consciousness with Rush playing on the stereo or in my ears. A very fragmentary "Xanadu" cover learned with my friends and bandmates. The big "Tom Sawyer" fill, a good chunk of "Subdivisions" and a few other choice bits labored over and sketchily reproduced in the practice room. Countless nerdy conversations. Innumerable air-drum sessions. Recently, fledgling attempts to play a bit of "Limelight" on guitar. Just, like, a life with this music as the backdrop or, not all that infrequently, the central focus. The impact is indescribable, the debt unrepayable.

There is so much more to say, but here's what I pulled together in tribute to the great man on the occasion of his passing, inspired in part by this ancient DFSBP riff on the "Subdivisions" drum part.

Thank you for everything, and farewell.