Part one- Who likes Rush?
The following story is 100% true:
When I was 17, my closest friend and I decided to spend a month picking fruit in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. That story is actually pretty boring, just a month of two Jews smoking weed and playing cribbage with Frenchmen. When we decided to go home we took a series of buses starting from Penticton heading back to Edmonton.
I had been listening to RUSH since I was 14 but found that very few of my peers could appreciate Geddy Lee’s amazing vocals or the drumming robot known as Neil Pert. My traveling companion held particular disdain for the band based mostly around my persistent pleading of their case to him.
“They are unbelievable” I would say “and they are Canadian, how can you not like this?”
“He sounds like a girl” my friend would say.
It was one of these repeating debates that we engaged in on a bus traveling somewhere near the Alberta/British Columbia border. I had packed the meagre memory card on my phone with RUSH songs to get me through the trip. I forced my companion to take one of my ear buds and began to lecture him on why he was dumb and I was a genius. I could tell the man sitting in front of us was listening to our conversation and I started to really sell my case. My friend picked up on this and he started to dramatize his argument as well. Eventually the man could take no more and he turned to us and looked over the back of his seat.
That man was Geddy Lee himself.
I am kidding. It was a hack old biker in his late 40’s with a greasy old trucker’s hat. He had long black hair that looked like a horse’s tail and a thick salt and pepper moustache.
“You guys talking about Rush?” he asked, knowing the answer. We both nodded and he rested his arms on the headrest.
“Let me tell you something about Rush. I seen a lot of rock shows, a lot. I seen Zep. I seen Deep Purp and Jeth Tull. Let me tell you something else, I have done a lot of drugs. Smoked joints laced with crystal meth and blown a flour bag worth of cocaine in my years.”
He seemed to be revelling in the teenage attention, perhaps thinking how cool he would have thought he was if he had been talking to a guy like him when he was our age. We both thought he looked like something illustrated by Robert Crumb. He continued his story:
“It was 1978 when my buddy Mike took me to see Rush for the first time. We couldn’t get any grass, no blow and not even a tab of acid. So we went to the show sober hoping we could score something to get us rocking.”
The old creep got really serious at this point and looked off into the distance, which was the door to the bathroom.
“When that first chord struck I felt a shock of electric energy shoot directly up my spine. It was a rush that was more intense than any drug I have ever done. Don’t you see? That’s why they call them Rush!”
He laughed and then started to cough in the way only 30-year old tobacco lungs can. He might have said something else about bands we had never heard of but that is the memory that sticks. Almost ten years later I have attended two Rush concerts with my now converted traveling companion and he can sing most rush songs from memory in a perfect high-pitched Geddy Lee voice.
Part Two- A Pock Mark on Lady Justice.
Why isn’t RUSH in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, it is my aim today to show you beyond a reasonable doubt that not only is the band in question worthy of consideration for the so-called Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame but they may perhaps be greatest rock band to ever play the game.
By what criteria do we measure greatness? What standard is it that we hold so dear that these Canadian gentlemen can’t walk the halls in a house built for kings such as they?
Is it longevity you seek? These men have been making music since 1968 and touring consistently since 1974. If 40 years in a trade does not make you a Journeyman then what does? How fine can you hone a skill before it becomes so thin as to bend and break beneath the mighty breath of your seemingly arbitrary expectations?
No it is not age or experience that keeps these men out, and it cannot be popularity either. For this is a band with a reputation for fan satisfaction and consistent record sales. 24 consecutive gold records puts them third all-time behind only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; two groups that reside inside your ivory tower. 14 of those albums went platinum and to this day they consistently play to audiences in the tens of thousands.
I have a sneaking suspicion that it is the behaviour of these sweet princes that prevents them from being accepted to your hall of shame.
No these men do not do drugs or drink to violent extreme and they never have. While their counterparts were busy with dangerous sex and loose drugs these men were busy at work on their craft. Perhaps if they had participated in your “James Dean rock and roll fantasy” and killed themselves for your enjoyment it would be enough for this barbarous panel. Perhaps if one of them had struck his spouse or killed someone in a DUI he would be worthy.
So what is it then?
Billy Joel is in the Hall of Fame and while no one here would ever defame the piano man, it is hard to see a world where he rocks harder than Rush. Let’s be honest with each other, the most interesting thing he has done in the last 20 years is crash his car into different things.
In conclusion: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the fact that Rush is not in the Hall of Fame is a travesty and a debilitating shame to your organization. It steals the credibility of an institution that claims to revere the history of an art that RUSH helped to create and more importantly advance. To overlook those three adorable souls is to rewrite history itself, to tear an entire gilded chapter out of the book we call the truth.
Part Three- A Farewell to Kings
If we can imagine the preceding was part of a two-hour lecture, this is the part at the very end where I get really serious and roll up the sleeves on my light blue dress shirt. I walk down the steps at the front of the stage and sit on them, resting my elbows on my knees. I look at one person right there in the front row, we lock eyes and they stare at my sweaty forehead glistening partly because of the warm stage light but mostly because I am really out of shape. That person is you:
Well, it’s been a long night and I think we learned a few new things, I know we learned that Paul from accounting does not like the movie Top-Gun! (Everybody laughs at the inside joke we established earlier). We definitely had a few laughs but there is just one more thing that I want to say to you from the bottom of my heart.
Rush is amazing. If you like rock music then you will like something that Rush has recorded. Chances are you listen to a band that has been directly influenced by them.
If you are a drummer you need to study Neil Pert- he will do things that teach you how much you suck and then push you to become better.
If you play guitar then you need to listen to Alex Lifeson rip it up, he is one of the most underrated guitar players of his generation.
Last but not least is Geddy ‘voice of the sweetest angel’ Lee, he plays complicated bass lines that seem impossible when paired with his inhuman vocal range.
Rush has more Lord of the Rings references than Zepplin, they are more prog rock than YES and scientifically proven to be one-billion times less obnoxious than U2. If you are a 14-year-old boy with long hair you need to get your hands on a copy of 2112 or Caress of Steel as soon as possible, steal some of your dad’s weed and prepare to have your life changed.