Friday, January 10, 2020

On Neil Peart

I'm stunned, sitting here on that fateful Friday thinking about it, while trying to forget it. I'm broken.

I've seen all the tours since 1983, have all the albums (including Peart's Buddy Rich tribute), and have all the concerts on Blu-Ray.

And yet I'm sitting here, utterly unable to select the right thing to play in tribute.

Maybe, for now, silence is right.

This one hurts.

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January 10 at 4:55 PM · 
It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil Peart's name.
Rest in peace brother.
Neil Peart September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020
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My friend Jay Roberts wrote:
Once upon a time, there was a rock band. A rock band I liked *very* much. In early 1980, they released a new record.
That record had a song on it. About half-way through it, I thought, 'Are they talking about what I *think* they're talking about?!?' I played it over, and over, and over. Still sing it loud every time I hear it, forty years later.
Those of us who love this kind of music are mourning a brilliant musician with incredible skill - on his instrument, and with his pen. So am I.
But I'm also personally mourning someone who let a scared little 17yr old "agnostic" in a small Southern town know that he wasn't alone when he doubted that stuff. Thanks, Professor. Drumming ain't the only thing you taught.
Amen, Jay (the irony is intentional). Peart's legacy for this Louisiana/Texas boy will always be his lyrics and showing me there are different ways of looking at things.

Coupled to some kick-ass music, of course.
You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will
----------------------------

I was at "the Hartford Show" with my buddy Seth in 2002. We had seats behind a big column that restricted our view but hey it was Rush so who cares? I can't say I understood the significance of that concert at the time; why start in Hartford CT? But we were grateful the guys were back.

I understand it now.

Ultimately, the right answer this weekend was to watch the documentary "Rush: Time Stand Still". It confirmed for me that this man gave us far more than we gave back.

I'm just glad I was home alone with the dogs while watching this tonight...

We recognize Peart's brilliance in his percussion talent, a talent that I believe has no peer. There are talented percussion genius in other musical styles, but I suggest Neil Peart was truly the best of all in his combinations of technique, implementation, and character.

But I also suggest that, at least for me, his brilliance would have been generally brushed aside as "overbusy drumming" had it had not been coupled to the brilliance of his lyrics and his offering to us that there's a different way of thinking out there, that you're not alone. His politics, changing as they did over the years, is certainly debateable, especially in today's political climate. But ironically I think that's what he was trying to point out after all.

I'm also looking back and wondering if we - his fans, his agents, his bandmates - asked too much of him. It was clear he did this for his art and had reached his tolerance level of the lifestyle, both physcially and mentally. By the Clockwork Angels tour, a tour which he himself admitted (in "Time Stand Still") was the pinnacle of his career, and he envisioned the end. He was very displeased with being convinced to do R40 yet he persisted, sacrificing himself from a sense of loyalty to his band and all of us.

It's also clear (to me) that he had no inkling of his illness during that tour (2015); in "Time..." he discusses how he just can't be 71 and still performing at the level that he demands of himself. His self-described issues at that time were tendenitis, weariness, and just getting old. So after R40 he gave himself the "free will" to pursue his life as he pleased, writing, riding, whatever.
A lot of times I can slip around and be a guy. And that's all I want from traveling through; I just want to be a guy. And that's life enough for me. - Neil Peart
We knew that was the de facto last tour; we expected we'd not see them at coliseum gigs ever again. But we all continued to hope that we'd see more of their brilliance in some small way. That hope was shattered Friday.

We wake up today and as the alcohol wears off Neil Peart is still gone. I feel bad for him, his family, and his friends/bandmates. I feel grateful for the sacrifice we were given. But mostly I feel bad for us, as we'll not ever again able to experience that muscial talent and genius.

Maybe death is what it took for Neil Peart to finally be in peace.

Thank you, Neil.

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The incredible public outpouring of emotion over the news of his death has been incredible. I think he'd hate it... ;) But here's some of the ones that caught my eye (I hope these links continue to live):

Neil Peart, Rush Drummer Who Set a New Standard for Rock Virtuosity, Dead at 67
by Brian Hiatt
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/neil-peart-rush-obituary-936221

Neil Peart Was an Exceptional Musician Who Influenced Countless Drummers, But His Legacy Can Actually Be Summed Up With 4 Words
by Jeff Haden
https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/neil-peart-was-an-exceptional-drummer-but-his-legacy-could-be-summed-up-in-4-words.html

The Death of Rock's Master Craftsman
by Damon Linker
https://theweek.com/articles/888980/death-rocks-master-craftsman

RIP Neil Peart, 1952–2020
by Will Collier
https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/01/rip-neil-peart-1952-2020/

The Misfit Awesomeness of Neil Peart and Rush
by Amanda Petrusich
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/the-misfit-awesomeness-of-neil-peart-and-rush

A Homeric Life: Neil Peart (1952-2020)
by Bradley J. Birzer
https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-homeric-life-neil-peart-1952-2020/

Why It Hurts When Great Musicians Pass Away
by Brad Shaeffer
https://www.dailywire.com/news/schaeffer-why-it-hurts-when-great-musicians-pass-away


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