Why Rush is the greatest thing to happen to humanity since Nick Tesla landed on Mars in his flying saucer
I was recently accused of being a ‘Hipster,’ because I worship the holy trinity of Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee. For the uninitiated, they are respectively the lyricist and drummer, the guitarist, and the vocalist, bass player and organ player for the rock group RUSH. Think about that: Geddy Lee sings, plays a double base, AND plays organ. All at the same time, in the same songs. So tell me again how talented and creative Beyoncé is?
The accusation hurt. I am not a hipster. I was listening to Rush way before anyone else bro. Way before it was cool, and there isn’t a hint of irony in how I listen to them either. So take that you turtle-neck skinny pants hosers. I remember first hearing the song Roll The Bones while listening to my radio in the farm house where I grew up when I was 11. I was all like, holy Huckleberry Finn is this ever snazzy! That was the occasion of my first erection. So proof number 1: I do not listen to Rush ironically. I have loved them for most of my life. They accuser also referenced my lumberjack shirt, heavy beard, and satchel which he called a ‘man purse.’ I pointed out that I am Canadian, and could easily be a lumberjack, accounting for the shirt and beard. As for the satchel, it was an important battlefield accoutrement during WW1. Sappers used them to carry their explosives, to blow up Germans and save American lives. And Canadian and British too, probably. I can’t imagine a manlier bag. Where else am I going to carry my craft beer when I go to my next escape room?
Many of you might be thinking, “What is this loser talking about? Rush sucks. I hate Geddy Lee’s voice, he sounds like a cat being tortured in Ramsey Bolton’s dungeon.” To you I say fie! Geddy Lee sings like an angel, and his voice has mellowed beautifully over time. I’m not saying that you aren’t entitled to your own opinions. I’m just saying that you are dead to me. You are now blacklisted, and I will find you. Just kidding. My wife hates Rush, and after years of counseling I have come to accept this sad fact. As for you, my gentle readers, you can listen to whatever you want without judgement or retribution from me. Must kill in their sleep… find them we will, oh yes, my precious. By now, you must be wondering what this article has to do with Steam, Diesel, or any other type of punk? You must be thinking that you could be out shopping for spats, listening to Steam Powered Giraffe, or polishing your five crank laser musket. Hold your robot horses my friends, we’re getting there.
Don’t just take my word for it that Rush is the bees knees. Neil Peart is widely considered the greatest drummer of all time, check out one of his drum solos on Youtube or whatever platform you crazy kids are using these days. How many drummers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Six. One to screw it in and five to say how much better Neil Peart would have done it. Geddy Lee is also considered to be one of the all-time greatest bassists of all time, and Alex Lifeson’s wailing guitar will melt your face.
They have huge celebrity endorsements. Peter Dinklage, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, all of The Foo Fighters, Tom Morello, Jack Black, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Eddie Vedder, The Trailer Park Boys, David Letterman, Kevin Smith, Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson, and Stephen Colbert just to name a few. I’ve heard that Michelle Obama is also a big fan, of either Rush the group or Rush Limbah. My research came up with conflicting answers on that one.
As Eddie Vedder said at the last Pearl Jam concert I attended, to paraphrase: “Every great city has its famous monuments. Seattle has the needle. London has Big Ben, Paris has the Eiffel Tower. And Toronto has of course its own towering erection, by which of course I mean Rush.” 9 out of 10 90’s Grunge Rockers can’t be wrong. Rush is aces.
How does Rush relate to Steampunk? We’ve arrived at the answer. Told you we were getting there. Rush’s 2012 album Clockwork Angels, what Neil Peart calls his greatest achievement, is a Hard Rock/Prog Rock odyssey through the repressive world of the paternalistic Watchmaker, a dictator who has created a society where there is a place for everything and everyone, and everyone has a place. As the refrain of the second song on the record BU2B (brought up to believe) goes:
All is for the best, believe in what we’re told,
Blind men in the market, buying what we’re sold
The album follows the journey of a young man who is raised to believe in the wisdom of the watchmaker, and that “The Universe has a plan.” As we follow his story through 12 tracks, he becomes increasingly disillusioned with this world of mechanized angels, caravans of zeppelins, and a clockwork routine which it is socially and legally inadvisable to break from. The boy wants to see the bright lights of the capital of this land, Crown City, where he sees the wondrous Clockwork Angels, the physical embodiment of the divine Watchmakers will, and a miracle for the masses to worship. His visit is interrupted by the bombs of The Anarchist, and he is falsely accused of the crimes of this dastardly villain. He escapes to live with The Carnies (yes, that is a title of a song on the record), and later journeys into the desert to find The Seven Cities of Gold.
The 8th track on the album, The Wreckers, is inspired by the novel of the same name, which many Canadian children were forced to read in grade nine. In this chapter of the story the boy continues his existential journey to the ocean. This song warns of the dangers of being deceived and drawn off course, as historically during the Victorian era gangs of criminals would ignite lights during storms which would mimic the beacons of lighthouses, calling the ships onto the rocks instead of safe harbour, where the gangs would salvage the wreckage. As the tune goes.
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary of a miracle too good to be true,
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary, 'cause sometimes the target is you
Good advice, wouldn’t you agree?
The albums last act begins with the climax of the heavy metal masterpiece Headlong Flight. After hearing the song a bazillion times, and being hospitalized several times for staining my neck after head banging in a manner that isn’t advisable after 30, I’ve only been able to determine that our hero does something really cool on a giant airship. That’s enough for me.
The falling action of the story leaves our hero at peace in his own shoes in the violin accompanied song BU2B2. He has learned that the universe does not have a plan, but he can create the person which he wishes to be through his own choices, and determine for himself what is right and what is wrong through this self-actualization. Pretty groovy.
So look. We’re talking about a Steampunk/Prog Rock/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album written by three of the greatest rock artists of all time, musicians who can write and play music in their 60’s that is so technically challenging that it would literally take years for most talented musicians to master (ask Eddie Vedder, he’ll tell ya without a shred of shame). A record that takes us on an odyssey that references the Miracle, Mystery, and Authority of Dostoyevsky’s The Inquisitor. That sends your senses into a psychedelic rock orgy as our young hero independently transitions from an innocent sheeple into a master of his own destiny through a tale that would make Sartre proud. Did I mention that it has airships?
Now it’s time to carefully pour a glass of a cold IPA, perhaps a Smashbomb Atomic from my favourite brewery Flying Monkey, sit in my hammock, and listen to some totally bitchin Rock and Roll. If any punks want to call me a hipster, I’ll meet you bitches by the monkey bars and give you a lesson in Karate-Fu. Holy trinity, I take off my bowler hat to you.
Cheers my fellow Deiselpunks
Your friend, Burningmonk