The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Saturday, October 31, 2020

Neil Peart, beyond the gilded cage
In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013 (L-R) Inductees Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, and Geddy Lee pose in the press room at the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California. Neil Peart, the legendary drummer for the popular Canadian rock trio Rush, has died at age 67, the band announced on january 10, 2020. Jason Merritt / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP.

by Bret Stephens

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- When I’m walking in midtown Manhattan, there are moments when a lyric written about 40 years ago runs through my mind.

The buildings are lost / In their limitless rise / My feet catch the pulse / And the purposeful stride.

The words are from the song “The Camera Eye,” written by Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist of the Canadian progressive-rock trio Rush. It’s an 11-minute, B-side track from the band’s best-known album, “Moving Pictures.” Along with other Rush classics like “2112” and “Permanent Waves,” I must have played it about 10,000 times or so in high school.

Not that this is the sort of thing that, until news of Peart’s death of a brain tumor broke last week, I would have easily admitted to anyone. LA Weekly once called Rush “the anchovies of rock music”— loved by a select few, hated by many. Growing up, my friends listened to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, the Steve Miller Band, Pink Floyd. To be a Rush fan in the 1980s had about as much social cachet as being treasurer of the math club.

Yet that was also what made the music so irresistible to me. Rush was rock for nerds, by nerds (and sometimes about nerds). You didn’t dance to Rush. It wasn’t heavy enough to bang your head to it or simple enough to tap your feet. You would never play it at a party, or for a love interest, unless your goal was to break up. The music didn’t set a mood, like Tears for Fears, or put you in the mood, like Roxy Music.

What Rush’s music did was compel attention. Songs unfurled in intricate, unexpected, subtle but cohesive patterns that always seemed to involve more instruments than the band had hands, fingers and feet to play. Every member of Rush was a virtuoso, and sometimes the joy of the music came in trying to focus on just one player: Geddy Lee’s bass in the instrumental piece “YYZ,” or Alex Lifeson’s guitar in “La Villa Strangiato,” or Peart’s thunderous drumming in the middle section of “Tom Sawyer.” That’s the section where, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, my arms start air-drumming all by themselves.

And then there were Rush’s lyrics. Most pop songs are about love. Most heavy metal songs are about sex. Most country music seems to be about hard knocks and heartbreak.

Peart’s songs, by contrast, were about — anything else. He wrote about suburban alienation (“Subdivisions”), the cosmological significance of tidal pools (“Natural Science”), metaphorical struggles for equality between oaks and maples (“The Trees”) and a futuristic dystopia in which fast cars are banned by something called “the motor law” (“Red Barchetta”). The themes were political, scientific, interpersonal, futuristic, philosophical. My all-time favorite Rush lyric, “I can’t pretend a stranger / Is a long-awaited friend,” is from the song “Limelight,” a meditation on the decidedly mixed blessings of fame. I think of it every time I’m asked to schmooze before a speech.

No other band did this. None that I know of even came close. To listen to Rush was to march to the beat — the complex beat — and the even more complex thoughts of a different kind of drummer.

Pretentious? It could be, sometimes. But that did little to alter the experience of encountering the music as a teenager and feeling not just transfixed, but also understood by it. At 46, I generally listen to music as a way of relaxing into my work. At 16, I was trying to figure out who I was. Though Peart’s themes and inspirations ranged widely, the through-line for most of his songs was the struggle of becoming, and the anxiety and marvel of being.

Too many hands on my time / Too many feelings, / Too many things on my mind. / When I leave I don’t know what I’m hoping to find. / And when I leave I don’t know what I’m leaving behind.

That’s from the song “The Analog Kid.” As a teenager going to a school 3,000 miles from home, I felt as if it had been specifically written for me. It must have seemed the same way for thousands of other kids my age, just trying to work out our place in the world. Implicit in the lyrics was the reassurance that the songwriter had been there before us, equally befuddled and afraid. And that it would be OK.

Over years of going to Rush concerts, I always came away awed not just by the quality of the musicianship but also by the length of the shows: The band never seemed to want to give audiences anything but its full measure of appreciation. And while I was never any sort of groupie, I also watched more than a few interviews with the band on the internet. The impression was always the same: Here were three guys who had remained grounded, grateful, humble and sane. Another Rush discovery: Not every star has to be an awful person to be a great artist.

For his 2013 induction speech at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Peart quoted a line he attributed to Bob Dylan: “The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”

The inspiration continues. Thanks to Neil Peart for helping so many of us find it.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

Today's News

January 15, 2020

New exhibition honors San Antonio arts visionary Robert L.B. Tobin

Sixty European masterworks from the IMA collection exhibited in China for the first time

Arts Minister launches call to save a Medieval guide for hermits

Museum Director forced out amid harassment complaints

Exhibition of works by Man Ray opens at Gagosian

Keno Auctions celebrates Americana Week with blockbuster sale

Sotheby's announces Hong Kong Spring Sales 3-8 April 2020

Freeman's to offer European Art and Old Masters in February

A photographer's search for his mother in Nazi concentration camps

Trove of new bird species found on remote Indonesian islands

Auction of American Folk Art & Toys at Doyle on January 23

The Arts House in Singapore hosts an immersive, site-specific installation by Yinka Shonibare

A Jimi Hendrix Experience in London

Civil war rifles, D-Day flag among prized lots in Milestone's Jan. 24-25 auction

Bidders answer the call for Bruneau & Co.'s January 4th auction

David Zwirner exhibits works by Indian artist Benode Behari Mukherjee

Spike Lee to be first black head of Cannes film festival jury

Six tourists arrested after feces found in sacred Machu Picchu area

Quinn's to auction rare books, antique maps, Presidential material, Jan. 23

Neil Peart, beyond the gilded cage

Selling exhibition feature 20 works by iconic street artists

Exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery explores the resurgence of portraiture

Gerhard Lutz appointed Robert P. Bergman Curator of Medieval Art at Cleveland Museum of Art

Importance of Visiting A Museum as A College Student

The new tendency in online gambling: play with a smartwatch

Ways to take a computer screenshot

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful