Last week, we lost Neil Peart, one of the best (if not the best) drummers in the world and the primary lyricist for the Toronto-based prog rock trio Rush. It still boggles the mind that he’s no longer with us. Both a poet and a polymath, Peart was his own man and a tremendous inspiration to many. Haven’t you ever air drummed along with a Rush song?
When I first heard the band’s landmark album “2112,” I was just a gawky pre-teen learning about rock music. Sure, I had listened to Zeppelin and The Stones on the radio, but this was different. I was a nerdy kid who read comic books and science fiction. The music of Rush and Peart’s lyrics spoke to me.
Over the years that I’ve listened to their music and seen them perform live, they have never disappointed. I admired them for trying new musical directions and never doing the same thing twice. Each of the band members were and are artists: Geddy, Alex and Neil.
Speaking of art, when I think of the lyrics by Peart that give me the chills every time, these are my top three:
“Marathon” (Power Windows, 1985)
You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don’t burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you’ve got to last
“Countdown” (Signals, 1982)
Lit up with anticipation
We arrive at the launching site
The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
On the Florida coastline
Circling choppers slash the night
With roving searchlight beams
This magic day when super-science
Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams
“Losing It” (Signals, 1982)
Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we’d like to be
Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it
For you, the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee
Peart leaves behind a legacy and a life philosophy that I’ve always tried to take to heart. He was a lifelong learner, it’s what fueled his writing, his music and his attitude. Someone once said, “The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.” I think Neil embodied that thought in spades. Rest in peace, Professor.