Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rush to Judgement

If I haven't apologized to Crustodio for this in a while, I'm sorry. Once again, I apologize for playing Rush albums and hanging Rush posters in our freshman year dorm room. They are ugly men. And the music is.... not good. But hey, I was 17 in 1982 and I just didn't know any better. In high school, everyone was into metal and hard rock, which I couldn't stand. 2 bands that I hated then, but have now grown to love, were AC/DC and Van Halen.

After all, I had literally never listened to anything except the Monkees and the Beatles (including their solo stuff) until 1980, when I was dragged off to my first concert: Cheap Trick. I was like, "hey, this is just like a modern version of the Beatles" (sort of), and my first steps into contemporary music were taken.

But I still couldn't handle the hard rock and metal stuff. It was just so stupid. And all that wizard/devil/monster iconography? It was strong stuff for a fan of Wings. And the guys and girls who wore their concert shirts with such pride were always the most anti-social stoners and miscreants. I was just so not into it.

And then one day someone played me some Rush. Wait - here's a band playing hard rock, but they have intelligent lyrics? Oh, my God! I was hooked. Now, of course, I look back at Neil Peart's lyrics and cringe. It's funny that now I actually prefer lyrics like "Rock and roll ain't noise polution/It's just rock and roll" (AC/DC) over Peart's twaddle. I think Blender put it best when they voted him the 2nd worst lyricist in rock:

Drummers are good at many things: exploding, drowning in their own vomit, drumming. But the Rush skinsman proved they should never write lyrics—or read books. Peart opuses like “Cygnus X-1” are richly awful tapestries of fantasy and science fiction, steeped in an eighth-grade understanding of Western philosophy. 2112, Rush’s 1976 concept album based on individualist thinker Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem, remains an awe-inspiring low point in the sordid relationship between rock and ideas. Worst lyric: “I stand atop a spiral stair/An oracle confronts me there/He leads me on light years away/Through astral nights, galactic days” (“Oracle: The Dream”).


But, for a few years I was hooked. I saw the band live 3 times. This was during their heyday, around the release of Moving Pictures, their best album. And I could wear cool concert t-shirts to school the next day. Anything to get over the taint of having worn a homemade Star Trek t-shirt in 7th grade. Which was only once, since it was ripped in my one and only fist fight that very same day. But, I digress.

So, yeah, I was into Rush. And I took my obsession to college and inflicted poor Crustodio with it. For a guy who mostly listened to yacht rock, it was a pretty tough sell. But as time went on and I became aware of new music (God bless you, R.E.M.!), and Rush started releasing synth-heavy, plodding and awful albums, my interest began to wane. Hello, college rock! Goodbye, Rush albums! And off I went, into the land of indie-rock snobbery.

OK, I have a secret. You may have guessed by now. I still fucking love Rush. God damn, they are awesome. I have their entire catalog (well, through Signals) on my iTunes and when I'm alone, I sometimes bust them out. They are the epitome of the guilty pleasure. So, you can imagine how I was pleased to see them make their first television appearance in 30 years on the Colbert Report last week. Say what you will about Mr. Peart, but he got a couple good lines in here:

By the way, I did not put the arrow pointing to Alex's armadillo on the image. That was supplied by some nameless person on Google. But, yeah - it's naaaasty.


thesizzler said...

A guy I worked with recently at my weekend record store job was a huge Rush fan. HUGE. Every day his first task was to put the CDs in the Rush section in chronological order. Once I was goodnaturedly giving him grief about the horror that is the cover art for Hemispheres and he got so mad at me that there was a throbbing forehead vein and spittle when he told me to "get to work" (yes, he was a supervisor). I was, like, woah.

Pete Best said...

Well, I hope you responded like this:

I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for livin
Yes, Im workin all the time

It seems to me
I could live my life
A lot better than I think I am
I guess thats why they call me
They call me the workin man

Peace out.

Anonymous said...

And the guys and girls who wore their concert shirts with such pride were always the most anti-social stoners and miscreants.

Thanks, Pete.

didn't know we were so below your high standards. i'm pretty sure it was you that was the one smoking pot in the back of your sister's car with Bob Wepfer and not me.


Pete Best said...

Well, the high standards of a nerdy 15 year old who obsessively listened to the Monkees every day. In high school.

Sorry, Mark - I was exaggerating for comic effect. I wasn't talking about YOU, rather the scary ones who intimidated me. If I looked down on all people wearing concert t-shirts I wouldn't have had ANY friends, including my sister. And myself!

My sister, by the way, denies that whole smoking pot in the back seat scenario. I'm glad I have someone to corroborate the story. Now, what the hell ever happened to Bob Wepfer??

Anonymous said...

I just commented for comedic effect too. I pretty much get your humor (some may go over my head but not much).

as for Bob, I heard years ago he was in Arizonia but i haven't heard anything lately.

Bungaloo Bill Rules!!


Pete Best said...

Whew - well, I thought so, but I'm so good at offending people by accident, that I thought I better apologize just to be safe!

Next time we're in Mantua, I'm hoping to find the old Bungalow Bill footage....

Anonymous said...

I believe I have that film secured away in the ultra-secretive film vault in an undisclosed location.

(a foot locker in my basement)

with your multi-media expertise, it would be really cool if you could convert it to DVD and add some clever sound to it. I'll try to look for it.

by the way, sorry for using this to write to you, MYSpace has been blocked on by work computer and that's all i have right now.


Pete Best said...

Mark, I wold LOVE to get my hands on that footage. You can always write me directly at: