My wife and I watched the new Rush documentary, Time Stand Still the other night and it made me sad.
The film documents the R40 tour from 2015. If you remember, when the management announced the tour it was alongside a rumor that it would probably be the last major tour the band would do. As things wore on that changed to the last tour the band would do. It was stressed that it didn’t necessarily mean the band was splitting up, just that they were too old (they are all in their 60’s now) to want to go on large tours anymore. They said that one off shows and new records were still possible though. That eased the pain a little.
Then on the last night of the tour, in Los Angeles, Neil Peart did something he never ever does. When the show ended, he walked to the front of the stage, grabbed the other two guys, and took a bow. It sounds silly, but knowing Neil Peart… that was a really bad sign. Not long after that he posted a blog where he said his daughter, when asked what her dad did for a living, answered that he was a retired drummer. Uh oh.
Now we have the documentary, and although they once again never said that “It Is Over”, it was so clearly the case. Rush is done. I would be stunned if there were ever more shows, or more records, or more anything outside of archival releases. There might be solo records, especially from Geddy Lee who seemed the least ready to pack it in, but Rush as a thing seems pretty much over.
The whole thing made me really sad. Not because the band was breaking up, but it was something deeper and more personal than that. Jen asked me to describe how I was feeling and I tried, but I don’t know if I pegged it exactly.
I first heard Rush when I was 10 years old. A classmate brought a tape recorder and a dub of Exit Stage Left to school and a bunch of us sat around his desk and listened to it. I liked what I heard enough to save up my money and buy a copy for myself. I loved it. I didn’t know why. I didn’t have the musical language to understand what I was hearing, I just knew that it was something I had never even imagined was out there and it had a power. It had something that I needed to be a part of.
As I got older, being a Rush fan started to define me. My friends were mostly Rush fans too, and if they weren’t they were still either budding musicians, or passionate music fans. All through my teens and 20’s the obsession continued to grow. Then in my 30’s, something unexpected happened. I fell in love, and the woman I fell in love with liked Rush too and was not only willing to go see them, but was willing to travel around to see them. We went to multiple shows each tour, hitting New York and Connecticut multiple times, but also Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. We planned a few Las Vegas and California trips, but they never panned out. Once we went to Ontario to see them but missed the show. As great as the trips were, even better was the idea that this goofy obsession that I had been feeding since childhood morphed into something that I could share with the woman I loved. It became more than just a part of me. It became a part of us. That was something I never expected, and something more wonderful than I had ever considered. I am so thankful to my wife for sharing all of this with me.
And now that part of my life is over.
We still have the mountain of music, and all the fun memories that will always be there. There just won’t be any new memories, and that makes me a little sad.
I totally get it though, and for Neil Peart at least I have been expecting this for a while. A few years ago Bill Bruford celebrated his 60th birthday by retiring from music. His reasoning was that he was still at the top of his game, but at any moment he was going to be physically unable to play the drums at the level he had come to expect from himself and he was unwilling to be less than his best. The minute I heard that, I knew that soon enough we would be hearing Neil Peart say the exact same thing. Peart lasted a little longer before saying it, but he said it. The guy is the best there has ever been at his instrument. To expect him to be willing to be less than that is pretty silly. I get it, and I back him up 100%. Go out on top. Hell, we’d all do it if the circumstances would let us. I completely respect the guy’s decision, it just sucks for the rest of us.
So I am no longer holding out hope for some future records or shows. I have accepted the fact that Rush is no more. I wish those guys the best in everything they do from here on. I just want to reiterate the fact that for the rest of us… it sucks.