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Neil Peart Speaks About Lyrics

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Neil Peart (the pretty darn amazing drummer of the band Rush) speaks about his process for writing lyrics. Some of Neil’s thoughts:

I don’t like lyrics that are just thrown together, that were obviously written as you went along, or the song was already written and the guy made up the lyrics in five minutes. I can tell. Craftsmanship speaks. I’m not happy with spontaneity musically either. … We do have improvisational periods during sound checks and we record them and at the end of the tour we sift through them and look for anything that happened that was magic. And there are ideas that we can mine out of that, taking advantage of the spontaneity of one day’s mood. But to go on stage and expect people to indulge you; that doesn’t work. I prefer organization.

The craftsman in me likes the thought here (take time to make it right, plan out the progress of the tune in advance), but the jazz guy in me screams bloody murder at the thought of removing both improvisation and winging it. To me, part of the excitement of live music is that it does change from night to night. Too much of either extreme tends to be a bad thing.

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  • duane

    Peart is a terrific drummer, especially for a rock band. He has been a tremendous influence on the evolution of Rush. Given his precise drumming style, it’s no surprise that he pays so much attention to detail when it comes to writing lyrics. I have been aware of Peart’s tendency to include very awkward sounding words and phrases in some of his lyrics. Take it or leave it, that is just another thing that sets Rush apart from the crowd.

    As for the improvisation issue…well… I kinda agree with you. But far be it from me to tell Rush how to play their music.

  • both of Neil’s books are work checking out. they give you a pretty decent perspective on the man. the second one, about his motorcycle trip after the death of his daughter and wife, is pretty amazing. sad and amazing.

  • That fits so well with what I’ve observed about Rush concerts before. I’ve seen them on the Hold Your Fire, Presto, and Counterparts tours (actually, I’m trying to remember if I saw them for either Grace Under Pressure or Power Windows, too — it’s been too long, and I killed some brain cells back in college). I’ve always *enjoyed* the shows, but I’ve been struck by the semi-mechanical performance. They don’t perform the tunes *exactly* as they are on the albums, but even the improvisations are obviously “scripted” to some degree.

    Despite that, I’m sure that I’ll always be a big fan of Rush. All three are super-talented muscians. Peart has given me a real appreciation for good percussion, Geddy has done the same for bass, and Alex — well, Alex just wails everything out beautifully 🙂

  • JR

    I think Rush should be listened to like classical music – it’s all written, arranged and basically set in stone before you ever hear it.

    Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not rock and roll.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent point JR, maybe that’s my issue with them

  • duane

    “Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not rock and roll.”

    Which just goes to show that rock and roll does not encompass all good music. Call it what you want, Rush brings virtuosity and give-a-shitness to a business infected with too many people that most garage bands would reject.

  • ok mr. olsen…quit with all this analysis and give la via strangiato a listen.

    you’ve gotta have a copy of it somewhere in that collection.

  • Eric Olsen

    Your wish is my command except I don’t have the one you want me to hear so I did something else.

  • Although I haven’t listened to Rush since, oh, Roll the Bones, I have to say this: I’ve always thought their lyrics were the worst thing about the band.

    In my book, they’re tied with Toto for the worst lyrics ever (shall we put Rush’s “Anagram” [“the saint is turning to stain”] up against “Africa” [“sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serrrrrrrrrengeti”] and see who wins?)

    What was that comment about Toto back in the mid-80s? If they weren’t such good musicians they’d be the worst band in the world?

  • ok ouch. Yes Neil has had some funky lyrics but also many moments of shear brilliance.
    “…those who know whats best for us. Must rise and save us from ourselves.”
    “Against the run of the mill, static as it seems, we break the surface tension with our wild kinetic dreams.”
    The song the The Trees
    “Time may be the one with wings but we’re the one’s who have to fly”
    “Run with wind and weather to the music of the sea. All 4 winds together can’t bring the world to me. Chase the wind around the world – I want to look at life in the available light.”
    Vapor Trails the song…

    And of course many more



  • BB

    I had the privilege to record next door to these guys and play with Neil Peart’s young protégé who was a virtual clone of his, and all that I can is AWESOME!!! For all the naysayers out there if you consider yourself a musician at all I challenge you to try and keep up with the fellas and then let me hear your comments.

  • Sean

    It’s pretty easy to match up mistaken lyrics (“The saint is turning to stain”) to other bad lyrics. But, when you look at the correct lyrics (“The saint is turning to sin”), particularly within the context of the song (anagram – a word or phrase made by transposing some or all the letters in another word or phrase… i.e., “sin” is an anagram of “saint”), it looks pretty clever to me… even if the lyrics as a whole seem pretty disjoint, I take it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

  • jeff morgan

    Rush Rocks!! Neil Peart…best drummer alive today…

  • duane

    Let’s not get carried away. The “best drummer alive today”? Hehe.

  • I will gladly admit that I am a fan of Neil’s work. But there are a number of other monster drummers: Dave Weckl and Dennis Chambers just to name two off the top of my head.

  • Courtney

    Neil has a great body of work to be very proud of. His work, unlike most of the crap recorded today will continue to stand the test of time as it has for the past 25 years. Like Bach or Stravinsky, you don’t have to actually like the music he makes – but you have to respect it as true artistic expression executed masterfully. That is why he is so highly regarded in Modern Drummer year after year (top 3). He has consistently brought his ‘art’ to new levels for more than 2 decades. For that, he has earned the unabashed respect of fans, critics, and peers alike.

  • Courtney

    Lest there be any doubt that Neil Peart is a true master among the great masters of percussion, one only needs to see three minutes of this great musician in his prime @


    In the past twenty years, there has been no one more capable of carrying the torch of virtuosos like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. To Neil’s credit, he has built on those stellar reputations and like those two before him, his impact and legacy on modern music will be felt for a very long time.

  • JohnnyLunchBox

    Scott, to say the worst part of Rush is the lyrics is absurd. I think you may be baiting us. However, I’ll bite. The lyrics are Rush. Rush is a worldview. Rush is quality. Neil is inextricably twisted, along with the other band members, in this phenomenon. Are any of these guys the best at what they do I would have to answer yes and no.

  • Paul

    “The Emperor Has No Clothes!”

    …or as some of us might say, Neil Peart is NOT the drummer he used to be…
    Please consider listening to the drum solo on “Rush and Rio” or any of the live stuff from the first side of “Different Stages.” Tempo problems, awkward timing in “The Drum Also Waltzes,” and a horribly embarrassing linearly-executed big band tune are some of the things that point to Neil’s decline as a modern drum hero. Starting with “Roll The Bones” and continuing through “Vapor Trails,” Neil sounds tired and uninspired to me.
    My theory is that something horrible happened to his ego at the “Buddy Rich Memorial Concert” in the mid-90s. His Big-band performance at that concert, although not stellar-but not horrible, received much criticism and I think Neil took it personally. First and foremost, Neil IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE a jazz drummer. Being a jazz drummer requires one to be open to the moment and to allow the unconscious to dictate the flow and energy of the music. Neil, being a self-admitted linear-minded logician, is not even mentally-equipped to approach an improvisational jazz musical structure. Anyway, with all that being said, after the Buddy Rich concert, it seems to me that Neil has consistently tried to evolve into a jazz drummer(traditional grip, trendy Freddy Gruber guru lessons, embarrassing big band tunes at the end of drums solos, etc…) Neil, you don’t have to prove anything to us…Neil definitely has his own style and in my opinion, should have strived for the maturity of his own voice on the instrument rather than attempt to copy some of the modern virtuoso drummers. Sadly, Neil has slowly become the artist he wrote about in “Losing It” from the 1982 album, “Signals.” Sigh…..”Signals” now that was the Neil Peart I knew…Oh..and if you really want to read the words of an incredible lyricist, consider looking at the work of former Smith’s frontman, Morrissey. I realize that most Progrock fans may not listen to alternative Brit-rock, but Mr. Morrissey is definitely one of the best lyricists in the business…

  • JohnnyLunchBox

    Yeah..!!!..???…well you’re a poo-poo head.

  • Is Peart responsible for that arrogant and self-righteous “Free Will” song?

  • JohnnyLunchBox

    Arrogant? Self-righteous? That song may have been a objectivist fueled Randian rant, but I would not describe it by the aforementioned adjectives. I think it’s a declaration of independence from religion and other mysticism, and an homage to man’s self-determination and ability to think independently.

  • duane

    Yeah, what Johnny said.

  • JohnnylunchBox

    Right on, duane. HOOHAH!!!!!

  • felix

    Rush lyrics aren`t the highest top.They are the kind you can like or dislike depending of your mood.They can sometimes sound upbringing like Free Will , but that song as many others are basicly pretensious.

  • felix

    Rush lyrics aren`t the highest top.They are the kind you can like or dislike depending on your mood.They can sometimes sound upbringing like Free Will , but that song as many others is basicly pretensious.Neil maybe enjoys reading philosophy but he isn`t Nietche to talk about it.That`s commercial philosophy being sold to kids or people who out respect for their musicanship look the other way.Their lyrics started to fall down when Rush thought (I am not shore who wrote each song) they can give advice wise like in Free Will . If you look at Tom Saywer, that song has a typical subject mater for Neil songs but there he`s not trying to teach he`s simply speaking his mind and that is the base of any art.Somewhere along the way he lost sight that perception

  • Rush’s “Free Will” is nothing BUT arrogant and self-righteous. I don’t see how you can listen to the chorus and come to any other conclusion. What the singer is saying is that there is only one right choice, which is his, and the song is basically about how right he is. Actually, though, all the singer is proving is how he doesn’t have a real solid grasp on the whole concept of what free will is, because you can’t “choose” free will — you already have free will, and you choose belief or disbelief. Compounded with the singer’s grindingly obnoxious vocals, it’s just amazing to me how anyone can listen to these androids or their music.

  • Charles

    Man, “Free Will” is nothing BUT arrogant and self-righteous??? WOW, you don’t know what you’ve listened to. I’ve been a RUSH fan since the beginning and don’t see how any of you can have a bad word to say about the band and what they’ve done in the past or what they’re currently doing… “Free Will is about the writers OWN choice, not anyone elses. Yes, there is only one right choice FOR HIM/HER, which is their own.
    As far as Neil Peart’s drumming… The guy only tries to expand on what he’s already done, which not one drummer I can think of has EVER done. It’s called “learning something new and expanding your horizons…” I take my hat off to Neil, Geddy and Alex for everything they’ve done. They have inspired me throughout my life, which is more than any other “band” has ever done. Please, read Neil’s lyrics carefully, each song speaks volumes.

  • gotta agree with charles that i don’t think “Free Will” is arrogant. it’s always sounded to me like a declaration of free will vs. belief in a supreme being.

    but…you’ve never heard of other drummers who learn new stuff and attempt to expand their horizons? you’ve gotta be kidding me.

  • Charles

    I’ve never heard of any who actually tried it within their own musical “sector”. I listen to a wide range of music, but mostly (classic) rock. I can go from Eric Clapton to the Rolling Stones to Journey to Van Halen (and everything else in between). I also listen to “jazz”. If you can name a few drummers, or even musicians, who have changed their “style” during the course of their career, I’d love to listen to them. Over the years RUSH has changed their musical style drasically and they somehow managed to stay on top, thus their longevity (30 years). Maybe it’s because I appreciate their effort. The “jazzy” ending to Neil’s drum solo is tastefully done and I love it. I even love Alex’s play on “jazz” in the middle of La Villa Strangiato on the Rio DVD. I think it’s a shot at Neil, but funny and interesting none the less. Expanding one’s musical interests has always been to my taste. Again, I can’t think of a musician who has. Please inform me. Thanks…

  • rock:

    Clem Burke (Blondie)
    Stewart Copeland
    Bill Bruford
    Ginger Baker


    Jack DeJohnette
    Ed Blackwell
    Joey Baron
    Barry Altshul
    Terry Bozzio (who’s actually in both camps)

  • JR

    Clem Burke, eh? Interesting. I hadn’t taken much notice of him, what with him being “new wave” and all. Are we talking only about his work during his tenure in Blondie, or is he up to something else lately?

  • Charles

    Great list. I totally forgot about Stewart Copeland or even Sting for that matter. You seem to know a lot about music. I guess I’m not thinking along those lines. Still, I applaud Neil for the effort. He can do no wrong by me. And an earlier comment you (Mark) made about Ghost Rider (1/27), I agree, it’s an awesome read… I’m still reading it now. His choice of words (like his lyrics) puts the reader right there with him. I just find Mr. Peart to be a very interesting person and enjoy all he’s given to his fans. Neil, keep up the great work…

  • for Clem Burke i was thinking of how much he changed during Blondie’s big years. early on he was putting his own spin on a Keith Moon kind of thing…he morphed into something else by the time “Autoamerican” came out.

  • Charles

    I’m not that familiar with Clem Burke, or even Blondie for that matter, but now that I think about it, there are several others who have changed their style over the years. I guess that I should have thought about that some more before I said anything. Anyway, I’m happy to say that I am in possession of my RUSH tickets for this years tour (got them yesterday) and will be enjoying yet another year of awesome music and entertainment. 30 years… KEEP ROCKIN’…

  • kenny williams

    2112 and hemispheres are timeless and take you on a journey of musical and lyrical genius no one other than neil could do that. bands today lack soul and passion and are in the business purely for the fame regardless of what crap they churn out cant wait for the 30th tour in manchester for an ammalgamation of the best rock music of yesterday and today. well done neil your the best now of to read ghost rider byeeee

  • Antfreeze

    Rush is like most rock bands to me. I can appreciate their skills, especially Pert, but I wouldn’t buy a record by them at gun point. Those squishy fantasyland lyrics do annoy me no end. Rush is just Yes with less members. There are so many great musicians, so few great writers.

  • Paul

    Regarding my comments on Neil’s decline as a modern drum hero, one point that I was trying to get across is that Mr. Peart’s attempt to become a “jazz” drummer has not been successful. I’m not sure that he’s tried to “expand his musical horizons” as much as he has tried to copy other drummers like Steve Smith and the lot of amazing players that he worked with on the “Burning For Buddy” CDs. The myth of Neil Peart as being the “Greatest Rock Drummer of All Time” is largely responsible for his audience’s consistent inability to criticize his current work honestly. For example, if you listen to “Limbo” off of “Test For Echo,” you will notice a rhythmic flaw in his ride cymbal pattern around 0:48-0:49 seconds into the tune. The first time I heard the mistake in 1996, I jumped out of my seat and was shocked that the producer and Mr. Peart(known for his attention to detail) did not catch such an obvious error during playback. And even if they did, how could they let it go through on such a high-budget, international recording?
    My theory is that everyone associated with “The Professor”(including Geddy, Alex and all of the people in “the Biz”) assume that every note Neil plays on his over-sized drumset is golden. Another example of Neil’s flawed drumming can be heard while listening to “Limelight” from the “Different Stages” CD. First off, when I listen to this version of such classic hit, I immediately notice that the whole band sounds tired and bored. And again, I am in awe that the powers that be chose such an uninspired version of this great tune to be released on an international recording.(Also, as a side note…who in the hell approved all of the fake audience applause on this recording? It’s embarrassing and it gets in the way of the music) Anyway, as you listen to the tune, you will notice Neil’s fluctutation in tempo throughout the whole song and more noticeably around 1:32-1:35 just after the first chorus. Even if I was drumming on a low-level local CD and heard myself perform such a flaw, I would never let it be accepted as a final take. I’m sure there were many more versions of “Limelight” to choose from out of all the shows they did on that tour…

    Someone close to Neil needs to suggest that he rediscover his own voice on his instrument rather than continue copying whatever styles and techniques that are currently hip in the modern drumming community. In my opinion, he’s embarrassing himself as a musician…

    C’mon, Neil… be who you truly are…I would love to hear your traditional left-brained, linear, clinical, bombastic drumming be taken to its fruition. Right now, you are lost and wandering. Never be ashamed of what you are…a great rock drummer. Let go of the jazz…

  • Matt

    All of this back-and-forth that I have been reading is foolishness. Sure Neil’s lyrics have been trite in a song or two. But his work over his career has been brilliant. It’s kind of like seeing a lush garden but saying it is bad because there is A weed or dandilion. Let’s face it: Neil, and Rush, are great. End of discussion.

  • Jessie

    GOSH!!!whats your problem paul every drummer makes mistakes…Neil Peart is a normal human being and he plays the drums very well….why cant we just leave it at that?

  • JohnnyLunchBox

    Antfreeze – you must be stuck in the 70’s or 80’s. “Squishy fantasyland lyrics????” “Yes with less members???” Are you drunk? I have never seen such a baseless and poorly thought out opinion in my life. Hearing “Tom Sawyer” on the radio once does not a Rush expert make.

  • ricardo

    Don’t be so damn critical. If you don’t like Neil then don’t listen to his work. Face it- he is the best drummer next to the obvious jazz greats- millions of fans can’t be wrong- and critics of Rush don’t buy Rush albums- Rush fans buy Rush albums. You are not a Rush fan- so don’t buy any more albums to bitch about. By the way- I hope you are not a drummer because it sounds like you don’t know your dick from a drumstick.

  • nathaniel

    hey felix,if you want to talk about Nietzsche you have to learn how you have to write this name,you fool.

    and if you want to criticize neil’s
    lyrics,write better ones!

    good bye you fool

  • Paul

    Dearest Ricardo,
    Surprisingly enough, I am a RUSH fan. I’m just trying to de-mythologize Neil’s reputation so he can move on and get back to being an honest drummer. And by the way, I AM a drummer and I’m well-aware of other players who have it going on currently more than Mr. Peart. Try listening to me or if you can’t fly to Ohio, pick up any King’s X CD. Jerry Gaskill is by far, the most underated drummer of contemporary rock-n-roll. Now go back to your pathetic, mass-minded thinking and allow the currently shitty band known as RUSH to re-hypnotize you into thinking that they actually have something new and valuable to say to us with their pretentious music.

  • The Hillbilly Cat

    In all fairness to you (devil’s advocate), I have seen Rush on every tour since Signals (1982-1983), at least 3 or 4 times per tour (Georgia/Mississippi/Florida, and more recently DFW/Houston/San Antonio), so I think that may hint to how big of a fan I am of Rush. With that said, I can understand why so many fans are instantly defensive for Neil. BUT… you are not too far from the mark in your assertion about a fan’s “blind faith.” I can see what you are saying about “a wider world outside of Neil,” as I, too, am a drummer, and understand completely the differences in styles and tastes you are trying to convey. For the most part, Rush was RED HOT during the early eighties…and most of us were in out teens (impressionable years) or very early twenties (not as impressionable, but still impressionable). I have sat next to Terry Bozzio, Dave Weckl and Ginger Baker (!) in drum clinics, and have listened (intently) to many of the “monster” drummers we may share in common. There is a difference. I believe Neil was attempting to venture into an area (jazz) to offset boredom and stagnation (MD review ’89). Steve Smith was a catalyst (BfB sessions), but you called it correct about the Memorial Concert sessions.
    As you may know, the drum “duel” between Will Calhoun and Neil was purposefully omitted from the tapes (notice all other duels are intact). While I do not necessarily advocate drum “duels” for any purpose (as music is a form of personal expression)…I can see the ticket-buying draw for a fundraiser like the BRMS. Will was reported to have cut Neil off several times(unsportsmanlike) and also went out of his way to try and “outshine” Neil, in the most unprofessional way. It reminds me of “The Karate Kid II.” Witness the comaraderie between the two Smiths (Marvin and Steve). Can we agree that Rush is a contemporary chameleon, instead of “Rock Gods,” or “The best of the best?” How do we compare Progresso to Campbell’s? Kodak to Fuji? JVC to Panasonic? GM to Ford? In the marketing world, all brands serve a purpose, and all brands appeal to a select clientele. It is all in the eyes (and ears) of the beholder. Your opinion certainly counts, just as the fervent fans’ opinions do, too.

    Kind Regards, HC : )

  • felix

    hey nathaniel,
    you girly name moron,i have the f**cking right to my own opinion, and i can criticize who ever i want.And my speeling is none of your damn business.

  • clem burke and gina shock (go go’s) are great drummers. i use to love rush.

    are they one of those bands that are still very successful in touring?


  • Rush is hugely successful, especially for a band that hardly gets any airplay anymore. Here in Phoenix, there was only one ad promoting the current tour, and yet tickets sold like hotcakes. Rush is very lucky that they have a reputation of putting on amazing shows, because Clear Channel (promoters for the tour) are doing almost nothing for them.

    As for the “burning issue” here, Neil vs. all drummers, basically, no, Neil is likely not THE BEST. But he’s ONE of the best. He’s in that eschelon of musicians where they’re all basically even – this drummer can do this better, that one can do that better, etc. However, and this is a BIG however, Neil possesses a musical ear that most drummers lack. Listen to Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy – the guy plays amazingly well, but it’s pretty mechanical and his solos are pretty bland. Neil’s solos, however, are consistently entertaining and they remain one of the only drum solos I actually care to listen to.


    Sir Neil is a gifted musician/lyricist as well as an enormous intellect. Sad more like him do not exist in the world of rock and roll. Keep on keepin’ on, Neil.

  • john west

    you guys dissing one of the worlds greatest drums are fucked up. you couldn’t play half the stuff neil plays past or present he’s a drumming icon that should not be cracked out. if the man wants to try and get in to jazz so be it ,he may do as he wants. i do agree he’s fallen off a little bit but im not going to blast one of the greatest drumers to hammer the plactics online. p.s. if you are gunna buy rush cds to listen for every mistake neil peart makes is childish and you should just sit back and relize your listen to drumming history

  • rare

    As far as the Buddy Rich Memorial concert Neil played on, Neil’s approach was authentic to the way Buddy would have played that tune- For the music and for the band.

    Out of all the other drummers on every one of those Buddy Rich Memorial tapes, Neil Peart was the most accurate in representing Buddy’s approach to playing big band. Quite frankly, none of the other drummers came even close. They all did their own thing. Go ahead and listen to old Buddy Rich records. Buddy didn’t play nearly all the crap Smitty Smith or Steve Smith did. Buddy had taste. So does Neil.

    This is an important point people are missing (especially the top name drummers on those dates)-

    It was the Buddy Rich Memorial not the “Steve Smith plays with the Buddy Rich big band memorial” or the “Will Calhoun and the Buddy Rich Big Band” or the “Buddy Rich Big Band plays Phil Collins tunes with Phil Concert”.

    Buddy probably would have puked if he saw the way those guys trampled his band.

  • Jaclyn

    I have to agree with Paul. I don’t think that he’s saying that Neil is or is not the best. I believe that he’s speaking on a much deeper level. From what I read, Paul is saying that Neil should pursue his own voice on the drums rather than copy other people. It’s hard for me to explain what I mean, but I do understand what Paul is saying.

  • dude

    dude, u all talk WAY 2 much, i cant even under stand half the stuff u say, but i CAN understand how all of u love Neil Pearts brilliant lyrics and enthusiastic drumming style, being a drummer i can understand how he feels as he plays and hope 2 get 1/2 as good as him…also being such a young listener proves he is a role model 2 young and old alike. I hate n e 1 hu puts him or his work down….i think they should burn in hell

  • felix

    I have to agree with rare.neil did show a buddy rich spirit.and also i would like to set things streight ,what i think
    about neils work.i am a BIG fan of the band,all day in school singing rush songs (have in mind that english isn’t our first language) while people stop to ask me what the hell i’m mumbling about.if i have critizased neil’s work it’s only cause i got tired about convicing people around me how good actualy is neil and rush.the band did slow down in the later days but it’s only natural that they would change during such a long carier, not only musicaly but also emotionaly.the band members have their basic right to do what ever they like.Sartr says we are objects to others, so neil to some is the drummer who plays on tom sawyer or limelight , and they don’t wanna loose that.maybe there’s someone who prefers neil’s drumming from test for echo or vapor tailsand i hope they’ll show up one day .so i say that neil is one of the best things that ever happend for the instrument and i would like if he should proceed doing what he does.

  • felix

    can someone please tell me how to find the hidden song on RIR

  • john west

    felix, put in the 2nd dvd (1) press2 enter then menu(2) then 1 enter then menu(3) then1enter then menu (4) then 2 enter then press menu and u will see it pop up

  • You can also see the animated video for Bytor. Via Cheat Happens (which also features the info John West mentioned above):

    Play the “Boys in Brazil” documentary from disc two. Hit [Enter] when guitarist Alex Lifeson discusses the song “By-Tor and the Snowdog” (at 26:40 minutes into the documentary).

  • felix

    Thanks guys

  • Christina

    I drove through weather hell to see Rush in Nashville, and I took my 14 year old son with me. Sure I noticed a few glitches here and there, but my son was quick to point out that Rush, as great as they are, are only human. Not being a musician, I can only say that Neil is inspiring to me, not only for his drumming and lyrics, but because he is a man who lives and breathes integrity. I can listen to Rush from any decade and enjoy the music, both lyrically and musically. I was so impressed with their performance, really. I’m damned proud to be a Rush fan, and I’m proud that my son is a Rush fan, and I’ll be the first to stand up and claim that I’m a blind, stupid, fanatic fan of Rush.
    ps – to the comment about the Smiths, didn’t they have a song with the chorus “Girlfriend in a coma”?

  • Greg

    A friend of mine studied classical guitar at the same time I bought a Fender Strat, and was experimenting with learning how to play & creating my own music. After 3 years, I was amazed by my friends accomplishments, very well played, executed and metronome type timing. But this guy could not improvise to save his life, and I blew circles around this guy when it came to playing the classics, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, I play these songs like they were my own, when i ventured towards Van Halen, my ability and creativity expanded as well. I finger-tapped him into oblivion, even though he’s technically better than I, I couldn’t possibly match him there. Alex Lifeson is a great guitar player, but there are guys like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Satriani that are much better technical players, Alex is a better writer than these guys though. There are guitar players, and there are guitarists, and then the musicians. Laugh if you want, but Karen Carpenter (of The Carpenters) was a trained jazz drummer, which I’m sure if she were alive today would drum Paul right out of his pants. A TV special I remember seeing had her jump from drum kit to drum kit wailing away, I could not believe the accuracy she exhibited. Ex-Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron sounds like he did his homework when he studied, I like the way he plays, Third Eye Blinds Drummer Adrian Burley, same thing, they are no slouches when it comes to drumming, Tommy Aldridge was one of my favorites before I hooked onto Rush… but it just seems like Neil stands out among the crowd, because he is a technician of the drums, as well as his being able to improvise gives him that much credibility… why? Maybe because he’s the third member of Rush, maybe because he’s the most quiet of the three, but is outspoken in his music and lyrics, or maybe he’s just that freakin’ good, mistake or not, improv or not, he’s got my vote, so stick that in your pipe and choke on it Mr. Paul. Have a nice day!

  • Paul

    That’s exactly my point, Greg. Maturity as a musician has little to do with technicality. It is has EVERYTHING to do, however, with the ability to get out of the way of yourself and let the flow of the music not be disrupted by a self-conscious performance. “Playing in the flow” is an art that cannot be taught or learned like the crisp execution of 16th note paradiddles. My point on this forum was that Neil once played in the flow and performed from his heart. It’s hard to suggest that the music Neil recorded before 1983 was anything other than wonderful and honest. That era of his drumming definitely stands today, in my opinion, as his best work. However, I believe from the mid-80s on, he has progressively become self-conscious and I can’t feel his heart anymore. For me, his current performances aren’t “alive” or “passionate” and it seems like he’s trying to live up to something that he’s not. “Summertime Blues” is horrific,embarrassing and self-indulgent and I don’t think that Neil deserves the uncontested title of “Best Drummer In The World” anymore…whatever that might mean. I do agree with you though…in order to be a musician, it doesn’t mean that you have to be technically great. Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl move me more now than anything Rush has done since “Power Windows.” Still though, I will have a good time seeing them this Thursday in Cleveland. Maybe I’ll have a change of heart the next time I write on this forum. Cheers…

  • Paulo

    In the biography ‘Visions’ I vividly remember Neil saying that he isn’t influenced by a particular drummer, he’s influenced by MANY drummers. To paraphrase, he says he picks ideas from several drummers throws them all into a pot to create his own output. His decision to be influenced by jazz drummers is his own choice and must be respected. Just like in the 70’s and 80’s his own true drumming voice was heard (and not even questioned) even though his influences were Keith Moon, Stewart Copeland, Ginger Baker, Gene Krupa, etc. Who’s to say his newer influences make him fake? Who are you to judge? Whatever Neil does, Neil is! Maybe he feels he has exhausted his 70’s and 80’s style and needs a new challenge or direction. Should he ask for your permission first to check if this is okay? I think not. Every single one of us who have placed a comment on this board has been influenced by someone, even if you consider the language you use or the construction of your sentences. If you really want to split hairs, are the words you learnt at school to make these comments YOUR true voice???? Think about it….

  • Philip

    I think one of the aspects to Rush and Peart’s playing that is often over looked in discussions such as these is songwriting. When I really think about it – I’m not a Rush fan because of their instrumental prowess or because of there ability to win awards. These things are side effects of something greater. I’ve thought a lot lately about Rush’s talent in being able to write good songs, songs you can hum, songs that stick in your head, or cause you to rewind a melody over and over.

    Specifically regarding Peart, as a drummer myself – what I admire most is his choice of beat, fill, expression and how he weaves it into a song that’s never been heard before. I always remind myself that all three of those guys start with nothing and end up with very large, yet simply satisfying songs. I’ve only recently begun trying to write my own drum parts for a brand new band I’ve joined and have learned to really appreciate the skill with which Peart develops his parts to fit songs.

    So often I think, “Who thinks to do stuff like that??” – in most musical realms for me, this question would usually be followed by “Hmm, interesting, but it kinda takes away from the song…” With Rush and Peart… I almost always think “Wow, what a weird beat…and yet I can’t imagine that song without it!”

    To me, talking about who is better technically or even from a performance aspect is fleeting and elusive. Drummers all over the world are no doubt constantly better and worse than one another. What I appreciate so much in Peart is his continued ability to satisfy my ears… I don’t really care how he does it.

  • I went to see the Rush 30 concert last night with my wife. She had never seen Rush in concert and was truly amazed and entertained. I have read the thread here and felt the need (baited I guess) to throw my opinion in as well. While I am not a drummer, I have been listening to Rush for about 25 years. I have seen them on most of the tours since Permanent Waves. There have been very few if any disappointing moments, although memories of the concerts from a while back are a bit foggy. (go figure).

    I respect the drummers opinions in this list. I find them fascinating. The thoughts on fill and missed timing on a certain beat. But from my perspective, if you aren’t changing, your dying. Everything changes as it gets older. I have never been a fan of a band that holds on too long. And it always amazes me that a person wants to go see the same thing, over and over again.

    Neil’s relationship with Buddy Rich’s music and his widow and lessons with Gruber are part of a journey that he has sought out. I love that musicians that I like change with time. Is Neil not being true to who he is? That is a question for him, but it would suprise me if he was the same person now that he was in 1983.

    The one thing I can say that may differ from Pual’s opinion is that I do like Neils new sound and style. I do like the big band reaches.

    As an aside to Neil for a moment, I have noticed the same type of tidal change in Alex’s playing. Victor was very refreshing.

    The concert last night was very entertaining, and my friend and I both agreed that the music that seemed to fit the trio the best from a sound and energy angle was the stuff from Couterparts, Test for Echo and Vapor Trails.

    I hope you all get a chance to see this tour. It is well worth it.

  • prashaanth

    pearts lyrics are far diefferent from lyrics ive heard in any other band, other band are so caught up in their music that they settle for less in the lyrics department. Pearts lyrics dont have to appeal to everyone, neither does rush’s music, but to those it appeals to it unbeleivably right, like someone said about “free will” how the singer is proving hes right.
    “choosong” freewill , i think thats about the previous two lines about others choosing “unclear paths”

  • Paul: While I can certainly understand what you are trying to convey vis a vis Neil’s attempts at growth, I have to disagree with you. If I feel where Neil’s playing was less than inspired was on Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, where, honestly the band as a whole felt that way.

    And, frankly I’d really like to know what your point it about the ‘mistake’ in Limbo? This seems to be picking nits to prove a previously-held view rather than allowing for a variation that obviously everyone invloved felt was unnecesary to fix.

    I haven’t felt that Neil was bored or uninspired from Presto forward. The Rupert Hine produced albums were sparce arrangements that demanded a more streamlined approach. Counterparts has some outstanding songwriting and very appropriate drumming, and a perfect example of how no amount of technical prowess can save a bad song. Speed of Love is just terrible, and I think Neil sensed that and tried to dress up a dog with some overly elaborate stuff in the 2nd half of it. He’s very stiff on Leave that Thing Alone, and the difference watching him play that Live now, compared to the recorded version is striking.

    Your argument falls completely flat in regards to Test for Echo, all I hear on that album is his enthusiasm for the instrument and the band’s material. Driven is a track I consider up there with the legendary ones of his and others. I’ll put Neil’s playing on that tune and Totem up against any other ‘great’ track (50 ways, Give Blood etc.) as examples of how to properly serve the song written.

    Not every performance is going to be a classic. Guaranteed. My personal fave Bruford has plenty of stinkers in his past, that in no way diminishes his contributions to the art form. Neil’s attention to detail, his musicality, and his energy are his legacy. His maturity as a musician has come in the form of not constantly having to show off what he’s capable of. A criticism I would level at some of the work on those pinnacle albums (2112, AFtK, Hemis, PW, MP). There are dozens of examples of ‘over-playing’ on those albums.


  • nathaniel

    hey felix,
    you’re so wise…why don’t you start to write lyrics? I’m sure,if Neil would read them, he would surely congratulate you to your work!
    what I want to say: maybe Neil’s lyrics seems to you so bad because you can’t understand them!

  • Jeramie

    I think Micky Williamson (4 messages up) said everything that needed to be said so well, theres no need for anyone to say anything else on here. I have read the entire list of comments and some of you guys sound like 3rd graders just trying to make stuff up to criticize Rush. I’d be embarrassed if I were you guys. It’s funny how of all the years that Rush has been together, and of all the albums (live and studio) they have released, the only thing some of you can come up is how there was a “rythmic flaw” on Neil’s part or “fantasyland lyrics” (what the f**k??) First of all, every drummer that has ever existed could not write such complex drum parts as Neil and perform them so perfectly. And as for the “fantasyland lyrics”, well thats just called being a creative lyricist. And in some cases, analogy plays a big part in the song. I hope some of you guys arent musicians because you are a disgrace to real musicians everywhere. You havent the slightest idea about creativity or change and expansion in what you love to do. And anyone who tries to come up with something smart-ass or tries to prove me wrong or whatever is that exact kind of person.

  • Ah, I see — you’re the only one with a right to an opinion? Screw that. I stand by my comment. Rush sucks. I can’t stand their lyrics, Geddy’s vocals, or their music, and I will gladly bask in the disapproval of anyone who disagrees. Indeed, I’ll withstand any abuse if it will spare me from listening to another of their obnoxious songs.

  • Alan Hunt

    Rush sucks? Would it not be more appropriate to simply say that you don’t care for their work? As with all public forums, the result here is altercation among the factions with the thread topic becoming only ancillary to the discussion. I’m 41 years old and have been a musician longer than I assume most of you have been alive. I was turned on to Rush in high school in the 70’s and have been a fan since then, sometimes more or less so but probably more now than ever. Why? I recently saw them in concert for the third time in Charlotte, NC. It’s a comforting thing to see them out there, still doing their jobs and pulling off an outstanding and entertaining show after all these years. They are probably partly responsible for my rekindled interest in music, as I become increasingly disillusioned with the hypocrisy of success and more focused on the sincerity of expression. Even if I “didn’t care for their work,” I would have the highest regard for their accomplishments. I look forward to their 40th anniversary tour.

  • Lou

    What is all of this crap that this one guy above is stating about a ride cymbal mishap in this section of a song, or a mistake in that particular time period of a different song? What have you done to proclaim yourself so mighty? Sure there are mistakes throughout recordings that, unfortunately, may make their way into the final cut. But overall, Rush has created such a following for their music that no band that I can think of that was around in 1973-74 can say they have achieved. Maybe the Rolling Stones but apart from them, who else? They have written great music from many different musical perspectives, outlasted anything that was created in the 80’s and the 90’s, and continue to add new and different elements to their recordings and their live shows. It is true that there have been some better moments in time, both on tape, and on the road for Rush but clearly, overall, they have created an awesome catalog of some truly inspiring music. Where are all of the bands that have blazed and then burned out? Neil will continue to fascinate not only me, but many fans worldwide with his approach to drumming, and lyrics. Where is your following mr. critic? You are most likely a follower of todays bland, unexciting, lyrically dismall wasteland of dead music.

  • RockinJoe

    Kids, some of u have to learn to LIGHTEN UP a little bit. Jesus Christ, you’d think the critics were questionning the holy trinity here. Neil P is not a goddamn prophet who came down a mountain do dispense wisdom to the masses. He’s just another guy with talent who puts in a lot of crazy hours at until he gets it right . Every once in a while he puts out drum tracks or lyrics that are uninspiring and that’s just the way shit happens. There’s no need to freak out at the readers who understand drumming better than most of us.(I suspect Neil would be more open to criticism than some of you) . I’m a HUGE Rush fan (by far my favorite rock group) but I still admit that approximately half of their songs are mistakes and failed experiments. That’s not being mean or irreligious(!), it’s just the way I see it. I suspect there are many readers of this column who spend way too much time listening to rock exclusively. To call him the greatest of all time is simply ignorant and stupid. Listen to Elvin Jones on Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and tell me what you think.

  • jeramie

    No Rodney, I didnt say I am the only one who has a right to an opinion. I said anyone who tries to say anything smart-ass or something to what I said has no idea about musical creativity and expansion in music. You have a right to an opinion, you just happen to be that type of person… thanks for proving me right.

  • I think I’m the one who should be grateful for proving me right, twice, as all you did was re-emphasize your point that the only opinion that matters is that of an unswerving fan such as yourself. Wanna go for three?

  • Lou

    Making judgment of something so specific as a ride cymbal supposed-mishap in some exacting moment in time is rediculous. What band hasn’t made timing mistakes, misplayed notes or harmonies, or being slightly off key? Jimi Hendrix was often out of tune on his guitar when he played but the genius of his playing was never in doubt, not even for a moment. IMHO that goes for Rush as well. Just my 2 cents worth, take it or leave it.

  • jeramie

    Please tell me you’re kidding. Just read my last message over and over again really slow… hopefully then you’ll get it.

  • Lou

    You know RockinJoe, you’re right. But then again, why should I care so much about a critics opinion? I like pretty much what I’m going to like with or without the negative feedback of others. I have been a fan of Rush since around 1981 and have seen them in concert numerous times. So the critics can fire away. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Rush had critics from the first time they took the stage and will continue to be lambasted by them. But 30 professional years sort of speaks for itself, don’t ya think? Most of us will not even see the same job in a 1/3 of that time. Amazing how they have evolved, maybe not to our entire satisfaction, throughout the years to go from such a raw, basic rock sound, through many transformations, back to a basic rock sound again. They have gained and lost fans alike throughout the years for this. They could have played it safe but I doubt they would have gone as far. I like and respect many bands, being a musician myself for 25 years, but none have evoked such admiration as they have. So like I said, fire away critics, use your fancy intellectual propaganda and say what you will, you’ll have no influence over me. Never.

  • Maybe, jeramie, you should read your posts slowly before you embarrass yourself by posting them.

  • Lou

    Hey Jeramie, forgot this moron and his “opinion”. We know Rush has bested better chunks of unintelligent jibberish than this. Mr. Rodney, what is it that you listen to? I’d like to know even though I can probably hazard a guess. Your blather about the band will not stop them from being entertaining to the fans (millions strong) so put it to rest. There’s always got to be a pessimistic bad apple in the crowd, it’s purely statistical.

  • If can hazard a guess, maybe you should.

  • RockinJoe

    Let’s do some more taunting.

    The guys can’t play, can’t write, can’t sing, and are too ugly to look at.

  • Lou

    Cool. Good for you. I will continue to listen to the band and like their music. Taunt away!! It probably makes them laugh while they cash those BIG checks for their hard work and commitment to fans. Say commitment, dedication, hard work? Oh, we are discussing what most current bands lack while they try to sell their schlacky half efforts to this younger generation of consumer cattle. I want to puke when I hear these young bands spit out their drivlish pop oriented “hard” rock. It’s also obvious that these younger bands have no notable influences other than schlacky pop oriented crap from other decades, “oh yeah, let’s add some crunch from a PRS guitar and a Marshall stack, that’ll gives us a hard edge”. Rock is dead, been that way for years. It had a semi rising when Seattle was fresh and new but Kurt died and then it, too, died. There hasn’t been a whole lot of inspiring music since then. Even Metallica, whom I used to spend many an hour jamming to when I was younger, have gone into oblivion. All that’s left, for me, is Rush. They, too, will come to an end. What will be left? A whole lot of Britney Spears fans and some aimless guitar noise in the background.

  • RockinJoe

    Sometimes it’s easier than shooting fish in a barrel. It was a fucking joke.
    You should’ve gathered from my previous comment (#72) that I’m a big fan of the group.

  • Dana

    I dont understand you all? Rush has been around a long time and can still pack them in can styx or reo or all the other bands of that time say that i think not not bad for a band that cant get in the rock and roll hall of fame but the rock and roll hall of fame can put a bunch of junk bands in shame on the r&r hall of fame and you!

  • Lou

    My apologies. I had you confused with the moron who called them “androids” and believes their songs are “obnoxious” (what song or songs is being referred to by the way,… Rush, obnoxious??). This will be my final post on the topic as it is only going to go back and forth and I have better things to do than hash it out with some moronic Rush bashing pseudo-intellect. To put it plainly, Rush does not get near the respect they have worked so hard for, and deserve outright. I don’t think this has ever really bothered them a whole lot considering they like to keep things on the D/L but still, respect earned is respect due and no snot nosed fleeb is going to sway so much as a hair on my head in the opposite direction. Again, my apologies to you.

    Rodney, judging on your choice of criticism and having heard similar remarks from others, I’d say it’s a good bet you are into bands like blink182, nickleback, the donnas and other pop “hard” rock (yeah, I’m probably cross referencing a little but all of that crap above sounds the same to me). I bet you drool when the grammy’s are on so you can see all of your favorite prostitute / singers who, as we ALL know, are very “talented” and would still sell as many albums WITHOUT the top of their nipples OR their bush practically hanging out. You also probably listen to radio stations that will play one of the above mentioned “hard rock artists” and then throw on m&m, followed by some other hip hop crap followed by some prostitute / singer. I’m sure I’m not far off the mark there rod.

  • RockinJoe

    Hey Lou,

    I hear you when it comes to Nickelback. They sound like Metallica doing Pepsi commercials.

  • Jeramie

    Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about Lou.

  • An amazing “modern rock” drummer: Josh Freese of A Perfect Circle. Forgive me if his name has come up already.

    I recently picked up a copy of Rush’s tribute to their classic rock faves, and was sorely dissapointed to discover what I expected all along…it was a sterile, forced attempt at “rocking”. I am currently, and always will be, a fan of Rush. I have to say, however, that thier musicianship remains legendary.


  • Nate Crowell

    The discussion in this thread reminds me of so many others I’ve read from Rush mailing lists and USENET groups (I’m dating myself, I know). I’ve been a hardcore fan since about 1979, and Rush continues to inspire me musically and lyrically. I listen to plenty of other music, including some of the stuff you guys have called “drivel”, but Rush remains my anchor.

    That being said, I think it’s important to point out that Rush draws so much passion from their fans and critics because they care very deeply about doing what they do well and true to their ideals, and they have been consistantly successful at it.

  • Lou — Thanks for responding. I’m afraid you are mostly wrong. You perhaps have mistaken me for a 15-year-old who drinks Pepsi all day and beats off over Christina Aguilera videos. Actually, I’m rather out of touch — no pun intended — with the current music scene. I know Blink 182 and Nickleback only by name; I could not identify any of their songs. My daughter once downloaded a song by The Donnas, although I never listened to it. She once bought me an Eminem record which I confess to liking; I also like Busta Rhymes, The Roots, and Public Enemy. My favorite artists, as I’ve noted here many times, are old farts: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, the Sex Pistols, and a lot of the punk/alternative/New wave music of the late 1970s. I also greatly enjoy soul from the Stax and Atlantic labels, and jazz from its early years up to about the late 1960s. I have not sat through a Grammy telecast in years and pay no attention whatsoever to who won; the only awards show of any kind I ever watch is the Oscars. I don’t know any prostitutes, so I can’t very well have a favorite, although yes, I will stick around for anything that meets this “top of their nipples OR their bush practically hanging out” criteria you mentioned. I do listen to a Hip Hop station, but only when I’m bored by NPR. No doubt, there are Rush fans who share some or all these tastes; we just part company on this particular band.

  • Paul, something everyone here seems to have missed was your comment “listen to me….” Would love to do that, but you did not list your discography. Please do so.

    Being a Buckeye, you may know of Michael Harris. He has a rather lengthy discography, mostly in the Progressive rock genre. Two of those works, Distorted Views, and Sketches from the Thought Chamber, were produced by myself. Michael has had some of the best rock/prog/fusion drummers play with him, including Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting), and Modern Drummer’s own Mike Haid. As far as a ride cymbal flub being left in a big time recording, I can tell you of a hundred reasons that this can, and does happen every day. Many times, the most “inspired” performance is not the most perfect in execution. Admittedly, we can now make things “perfect” if ProTools is used from start to finsh in the recording process. But that can be very costly, and can take the “human” feel out of a performance. May as well use a drum machine. At any rate, I can sit down and find mistakes all over just about anything you want to put in front of me, but aside from the time I spend in the studio, I would rather listen to the work as a whole, not pick it apart to the Nth degree.

    I will say, attaching the word “best”, to any musician, is an exercise in futility. Best at what? What most folks really mean, is that a particular musician is my “favorite” drummer, guitarist, etc. (and Neil Peart will always be one of my favorite drummers)

    Because his instrumentals are a mix of pure prog, jazz/rock fusion, and metal, Michael generally has multiple drummers play on his recordings, for one basic reason. The “prog” guys usually have a stiff groove, and the “jazz” guys can’t always pull off the highly technical prog stuff. Surely there are exceptions to that rule, like Bruford, but they are few and far between. In our camp, Keith Carlock, and Matt Thompson would be considered acceptions…

    Neil Peart has injected many styles in his playing, from African drumming, to metal, to swing, and adapted all of these styles into a rock format. I don’t think Neil would claim to be a “jazz drummer”. But why is that style so sacred that he is not allowed, in your point of view, to learn from it?

    For a musician to offer such specific critique of another musician’s work as you have here, certainly demands, or opens you to equal scrutiny. I hope you will do all of us the favor of listing your discography here. On my part, I promise to listen with an open mind. The proof is in the puddin, my friend. A couple of good listens, and I will be able to dismiss your words here as pure professional jealousy, or may be calling you to inqure about your availability. I wait with open ears.

  • jeramie

    By the way, does anyone have any idea whatsoever what kind of hat it is that Neil Peart wears nowadays when he plays? I have been trying to find one everywhere but have had no luck.

  • simon


  • RockinJoe

    I’m a HUGE Rush fan as I’ve noted before, but I have a bone to pick with the band. THEY SOLD OUT by selling a a portion of “Tom Sawyer” to make a fucking Nissan TV commercial. It cheapens the hell out of the song in my opinion. I don’t want to hear the predictable argument from some blindly loyal fan that Rush has the right to do whatever they want with their songs. No shit. That does not make it right. Their signature song has now become just another product. I brought up this argument on another discussion board and not a single person agreed with me. (Some people are simply too caught up in their admiration of this group to criticize them objectively). The plain truth is that they have been exposed as hypocrites, especially Neil. When the lousy, Terry Brown-produced “Working Man” tribute CD came out, the guys in the band were not pleased at all with the effort. (Neither was I). But Neil went as far as saying that the only reason the musicians collaberated with Terry was for the money. That was way before the Nissan ad came on the air.

    “Art as expression, not as market campaigns…”

  • jeramie

    hey simon, read Ghost Rider have you?

  • Amsterdope

    Just a general comment:

    I think Neil Peart is a very good drummer and a very nice person. I lived near him for around 4 years. For a guy who has experienced wealth, fame, happiness and tragedy, he sure expends his energy constructively.

    Anyone that uses their brain and a pen as a way to deal with their personal issues should be commended.

    The scores of crybaby celebrities that drown themselves in drugs, booze and sleazy company when times are tough should look to Neil as inspiration.

    He gets my full marks, not as a drummer alone, but as a genuine human being.

    End of Comment.

  • I was a Rush freak in high school, bought every album they had. If John Rutsey had remained the drummer, I sincerely doubt Rush would have experienced the success that they have enjoyed since hiring Peart.

    And the “Randian” jab? Duh. Peart read “Anthem” and based the entire first side of “2112” on it, as I recall. In my opinion, that’s their signature album, and a damned fine one.
    So yeah, Ayn Rand was an influence. Personally, I wish Atlas would shrug, but that’s another topic.

    And with credits like:

    Voted to Modern Drummer Hall of Fame: 1983

    Best Rock Drummer: 1980,1981,1982,1983,1984,1985

    Best Multi-Percussionist: 1983,1984,1985,1986

    Best Percussion Instrumentalist: 1982

    Most Promising New Drummer: 1980

    Best All Around: 1986

    who can argue with his musical prowess? No one in their right minds, I contend.

    And when a band can take the morse code representation of an airport and turn it into one of their best-know songs (no thanks in part to Peart’s drum solo on Exit…Stage Left) you have to admire their creativity.

    Not to mention Rush’s pioneering use of synthesizers. Geddy was using Moogs, the very first synthesizer produced (see one here). Moogs were analog and looked more like a telephone switchboard than what we think of today as a synthesizer.

    Ok, enough bloviating on my part. If you don’t enjoy Rush, don’t listen to them. If you do, then you can obviously appreciate their collective genius.

  • RockinJoe

    I beg to differ with my friend from comment 97 describing 2112 as their signature album. I don’t think they peaked that early. And I don’t think they have a signature album either. They have too many good songs spread out over such a long length of time that to pinpoint one specific period as being dominant is very difficult. I think the best songs released during the T4E/Counterparts period is some of the best work they ever did. It easily surpasses the quality of 2112 in my opinion. I absolutely love to hear Geddy’s voice on 2112 and that’s undoubtedly the best part of that album.(and also one of the greatest vocal performances of all time). The quality of the later songs that I’m alluding to stems from the fact that they have become greater fans of words and singing. The music feeds the lyrics instead of competing with them. The earlier stuff they released was very bombastic and even though I love that type of performance, I’m of the opinion that the music tends to take too much attention away from the words. Plus Neil’s strength as a lyricist is a hell of a lot better now than in the earlier times. To me “Time and Motion” is pure genius. The band seems to have hinted in several interviews that 2112 is but one period in their long career and it shouldn’t be seen as representative of their work in general. I personally feel that 2112 both musically and lyrically is average at best. Except for the vocal work of course which is outstanding.

  • RockinJoe

    I notice a lot of comments on this board take a defensive tone. People get very testy when you attack their “heroes”. Don’t take Rush too seriously folks. As Geddy himself said in the Rio DVD, “we’re musicians- it’s not that noble a pursuit!”.

    All that defensive pride makes you look like you’re from Alberta.

  • since i commented (#2) back in january about neil’s books, he has published a third.

    it’s called Travelling Music, and it’s about the music he listens to when he goes on road trips.

    pretty interesting stuff so far (i’m about halfway through.)

  • lance silverman

    i am just 14 years old but was introduced to rush by my father and over the last year i have become a bigger fan then him. Saying there lyrics are their weekness is absurd. Their lyrics involve a wide range of mood and feeling. If you where do judge a band by their worst lyrics than their would be no goods bands at all. Their lyrics convey a message and if you truly listen no matter how wierd a single bit of a song is in the grand picture of things each verse seemsin place in its context. A great line to me is ” he knows changes aren’t permanent but change is” i found this to be almost philosphical and really made me think. Geddyy lee is often critizced for his high voice where i enjoy it more than the run of the mill rock singer. I enjoy the uniqueness in their lyrics and in sound.

  • JohnnyLunchBox

    Rodney you are a smug, self-righteous, obviously effeminate, dispenser of arrogant opinions. However, I like you and won’t hold your effemininity (wtf???) against you.

    However, I can’t stand some of your favorite artists such as, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads (maybe sort of ok), the Sex Pistols. They make me want to stick porcupine quills in my ears while biting off my own fingers (difficult to do actually while shoving quills in ears).

    I guess if it isn’t sappy, nostalgic, and harkening back to a time when it was thought that polluting your brain could save the world, you wouldn’t like it. I bet your favorite music magazine is “Rolling Stone”. Am I right?

    Most hip-hop sucks. “Modern” Jazz blows. And new wave is somewhere between sucking and blowing.

    I like Rush and that is my arrogant (and less effeminate)opinion.

    I could have just disagreed with you, as you could have also.

  • RockinJoe

    Let’s start a new discussion instead of resorting to all this back and forth stuff(I’m guilty of it myself). Tell me what your favorite Rush song is and why.

  • RockinJoe

    C’mon kids, there must be somebody out there who has a fave Rush song.

  • Jeramie

    My favorite Rush song is “Mission” off of “Hold Your Fire”, RockinJoe. Excellent message in that song. I encourage everyone who has a dream but has not yet lived it, to listen to this song carefully.

  • RockinJoe

    I think “The Mission” is the best song released during that period, especially the live version. Al does one of the best solos of his career. He had a style that was very lyrical at the time and it worked very well with the melodic feel the group. It sounds like he’s singing through his guitar, which makes a lot of sense in a way. I once heard Miles Davis say that all musicians consciously or unconsciously try to imitate that original musical instrument, the human voice. Alex did that extraordinarily well on the live version. Oh, and the lyrics are pretty damn good too.

  • Not to dissuade your conversation here, but these comments generally pertain only to the article, which is why you guys aren’t seeing a huge amount of interaction. If you want to hang out with fellow Rush fans, head over to the Rush message board. I’m sure you’ll find many like-minded fans (being one, I speak from experience.)

  • RockinJoe

    Thanks dude

  • jeramie

    cool thanks

  • Dave Ronson

    Neil is not trying to become a jazz drummer. He is trying to incorporate something new into his own style, which he had taken to the limit. Rush have always been musical nomads, and Neil is no different.

  • bobobo

    Ok, Lyrics CAN have implied meanings, like the trees, and several others. Maybe that has something to do with the weird lyrics.

  • Matt Minadeo

    This is a very interesting message board. I will add my 2 cents in. Neil Peart is an awesome drummer. We all know this. But he is definitely not “the best drummer of all time” or “the best rock drummer of all time”. I’m sure he would admit this too. He’s one of the best at Progressive Rock/Fusion/Weird drumming,but to say he’s the best of all time is stupid. There have been better drummers than him past and present. Too many Rush fans kiss his ass in my opinion. I like Rush and Peart’s drumming too, but I refuse to kiss their ass. They haven’t been good since 1983. And just to let people in on a little secret, just because a musician is technically awesome and has alot of technique does not mean their music is good and that they are awesome. You don’t have to be a “Bitchin'” player or have tons of chops or be a chops monster to be a good musician or be a good drummer. Here’s an example: Dave Holland, one of Judas Priest’s many drummers. Dave Holland wasn’t a chops master. He didn’t have totally awesome technique. He had some chops and he was a pretty good drummer in Trapeze and Judas Priest, but you never hear anyone mention him. There are alot of drummers out there who are not technically awesome but are still pretty good drummers in their own right. Neil Peart is not the be all-end all of drums. And another thing: John Rutsey was a totally underrated drummer. Thanks for letting me post and thank you for letting me give my opinions.

  • pete

    some people get rather defensive about rush. a true rush fan needs not to defend them. and anybody who listens to m&M and says that neil missed a note or something like that is totally dillusional. the reason why u are so critical bout neil is because the only drummer u listen to is off a fucken machine…of course it will never miss a beat. enough though. there are many great drummers, neil just happens to be one of them.

  • jay

    if any of u wanna hear a new and very promising progrock drummer check out the band REIGN. his sense of polyrthyms is much like pearts along with sense of odd time signatures. some people have said he sounds like a jazzy peart and others said he sounds like a rock version of carter bueford. neil is still the man no matter what any one says. he will definatly go downin rock history as one of themost explorative and creative drummers and lyricists.

  • Paul

    Wow…this was all pretty entertaining. Please don’t confuse me with the other, narrow minded Paul of posts past. I don’t know who that guy is, or really care to, from his comments. I’d put in my two cents worth, but I have three: A few people mentioned Cobain as an “inspiration”. Should we be calling suicide prevention hotlines for you? Given the fact that Neil lost his wife and daughter inside of one year and continues to play (FOR HIS FANS…he’s obviously got the money folks) speaks volumes. I didn’t see him take the quick & easy way out. 30th anniversary tour…hmmm…for a band that sucks, 30 years is a pretty long time. The particular show I went to was sold out. Let’s face it, there were plenty of bands out there hailed as “the next best thing” that are today washing cars, and selling bicycles. You should check out the “Where are they now” programs on VH1. You’d be surprised at how many “awesome” bands have fallen into obscurity, barely resurfacing only to be mocked on sitcoms. Music is best appreciated in the eye of the beholder. Ever walked into a CD retailer and seen the overwhelming volume of music that’s out there? There’s something for everyone, believe me. IMHO, Peart is among the top of a very short list of accomplished musicians. Just listen to what his peers have to say about him. Among the greatest of the great there is nary a negative comment. As admiring amateurs, who are we to argue with the masters? Don’t want to take their word for it? Put on one of his solos and play along if you can. Note for note of course. If you were to make one mistake on one ping of a ride cymbal as mentioned before, well, then you suck too, right? A word of advice: If you don’t like RUSH or Neil Peart, DON’T BUY THEIR STUFF. Pick up one of the other MILLION cd’s out there. I’m sure that any selection from Menudo or Milli- Vanilli would suffice.

  • Stephen Marinaro

    Please understand one thing; RUSH
    has been a mainstay for me and countless
    numbers of fans for years. Who cares if
    Neil plays better than Ringo or Dana Carvey? Why would you even compare? If Neil inspires you lyrically or instrumentally, cherish him for as long as you can, for he is only human

  • tom

    i’ve heard of reign too. the drummer rocks but he’s not a neil. neil is incredible and always will be. all those other drummers have a huge work load in order to comapare with peart

  • jimbo

    privitere from reign i feel has one up on peart. privitere has a different feeling than peart when it comes to fusion.

  • You’re all right (except for the one arse who hates Rush so much, he came back twice to tell us)!

    For those of us that play (any instrument), and have written songs (or just added our skills to one), not have songs that we consider less than others?

    In the real world, playin with other people, no matter how similar everyone’s tastes are, you have to, at some point, compromise – These are the songs you’ll never *really* enjoy playin and that’ll be reflected in the composition of your piece and the subsequent playin of.

    Rush fans are a rare breed; my initial knee-jerk reaction is always – even today – defensive when they’re attacked. There is something precious about the band that evokes this reaction. To be a “good” musician however, one has to be honest too. Not everything *any* of the band members perform is all great… that would be inhuman.

    As for “mistakes”? I’ve yet to hear any of my “hereos” (I’m a bassist “by trade” BTW) play without mistakes… whether studio or live – There is a limit to studio time and there are production and release schedules to fit into… and the more complex the music, the more each of those budgets are tested… again, real world.

    As for the jazz thang? Pah! Which of us musicians wouldn’t give their left testicle to be coached, even for an hour, by our own personal legends? The deeper you get into music, the more you realise that jazz is unavoidable if you wanna, “get to the bottom of it”… doesn’t mean you have to master any of it nor does it mean you start changin the songs or style of music you perform – We’re ALL learnin.

    … Jazz is jazz, Rush are Rush.

    There ain’t no musician in the world, past or present, that can ever be “the greatest” – It’s all personal, the rest is purely about who has the most vocal fan base.

    I will end this by saying that for me, Peart, still influences both my thinkin (Pearts’ lyrics – which hugely contributed to my increased grades in English Language at School) and rythmical playin.

    Geddy Lee is wholly responsible for giving me the best start in bass playin I could have hoped to have chanced upon and Lifeson instilled a (high) minimum standard of playin that I expect from a guitarist.

    … even the construction of their songs taught me a lot and elements of all the above still finds itself in the music I make today… and today I mostly compose dance-type music solely on the computer!

  • BK

    As a long time bass player (and Rush fan) who has many proffesional drummers (rock, r&b, studio, jazz, classical percussion)as friends, I found there’s a general consensus on Neil Peart’s drumming:
    He’s the best Neal Peart-with-Rush style drummer on Earth, but a fish out of water anywhere else.
    In the extreme, but self-tailored demands of Rush, he is nearly flawless. In other situations (I.E. the Buddy Rich tribute)he is embarrisingly out of place. Regarding the BR tribure: his approach was sadly superficial (imitating Buddy’s equipment) and psuedo-intellectual (“getting into Buddy’s mind”). I cringed watching him play. I felt so bad for him. He was so stiff (absolutely no swing concept), and amateur. I’ve heard junior high school kids better adapted to play with a big band. The other drummers at the tribute were diplomatic about his participation, but word about the fiasco traveled well in proffesional circles.
    Trust me, envy of Neil Peart’s popularity does not motivate these views. Honest self-respecting proffesional musicians don’t begrudge anyone their success, and Neil Peart’s success is well earned.
    Just don’t ask him to play on your gig.
    (Yeah, I know why would he want to, the point remains unchanged)

  • Steven

    I agree with BK and more so, with Paul(the guy who started a lot of this debate). Neil is over-rated as a drummer. I’m only speaking on a musical level here. He has influenced me as well as thousands of other people in the world, but I have to admit, lately, I am not thrilled by what I hear from him. I was on Rhapsody the other day and checked out the video for “Working Man” off of Rush and Rio. I don’t want to nit-pick here, but is ANYONE listening to Neil’s drumming on that song-especially during the guitar solo???? It’s absolutely horrible and similiar to what BK says, a middle school kid could play more evenly between his hands and feet. Again, I love Neil Peart and he has achieved a lot of impressive artistic goals. However, his popularity will not influence my ability to look at and listen to his work honestly. Why am I even saying all of this? Because it’s TRUE!!!

  • Saradine

    Paul (and others)

    I hear what you are saying. I hear what you are all saying, but something you guys might want ot think about for a few min:

    If you have read Pearts latest book “Ghost Rider” he tells you he is having to relearn his passion for music. He felt crushed and still does to a degree. You have to understand how much he loved his family. That will help you see into his playing now.

    Neil, as logical as he is, is a very emotional player. There was nothing that moved him nore than playing the drums, that changed when he lost his family. Just like he is healing his “little baby soul” his music will take some time to come back full circle. Just remember the most important aspect of music is emotion, and when you are numb it is hard to relearn your trade.

    Now that his life is getting better his music is coming back…fast. I have seen him in 5 shows since he started touring again and he keeps getting better.

    Either way he is just a cool guy and no matter what he does he is still a better man (much less drummer) than most out there.

    He is still putting out quality music and it may take him time to rebuild his style, but he may never come all the way back.

    And Steven…
    “Working Man” was written when Alex and Geddy were in the 11th grade and Neil was not the drummer when it was written. They play it because it is a counter point to where they are at now…30 years later.

    Also, you have to remember that Rush is not a non-profit org. They have to make a living and the music they produce takes a cross section of “modern” music and makes it their own. They have always done this it should not be a shock. That is one of the great things about the band, they play the same basic music that is out on the market…just better.

    And one other thing I would like to point out is this: of the few bands that have endured 30+ years in the buisness (and make no mistake “endure” is the right word for it) Rush is still putting out good music. It may not be as good as it once was but shit it is still better than almost all of the crap that is coming out now (in rock that is). I mean shit, if you did something for 30 years you would go through a natural progression of ups and downs too, and Rush has had more ups than downs.

    And to finish I just have to say that Rush is and always will be my favorite band. Once you reach a certain level of quality it all comes down to taste. Trying to figure out who (or what type of music) is the “best” is completely subjective. For me I can’t find a band that “clicks” with me better. “Best” is an impact on your emotions. Take Nirvana, I hate them I think they are about as talented as Helen Keller trying to play NFL football, but there are people out there that love them. That is great! They click with the band and it makes the music that much “more” for them.

    I just get bored with the “hes best..no he is not…yes he is…no he is not…and so on. Neil will tell you he is not the best drummer ever, and he will tell you he has lost something since the accidents. But he will also tell you he is a pro and feels that he is good at what he does. I don’t think many will disagree. Well the 8 year old foum whores that like to troll and get people riled up by going to a Fan Site and spamming “Your band/view/toy/whatever SUCKS” might disagree but who cares. When I go out to buy a Rush CD it’s my money, my time, my opinion…

  • BK

    I admit, it’s hard knocking a guy who has been through as much and accomplished as much as Neil Peart. The cold truth remains, his attempts at styles outside the self tailored confines of Rush(like the Buddy Rich tribute) are cringe inducing. I’m talking about things he did prior to his personal tragedies.
    To those comparing Rush’s music to classical work:
    Rush is a rock band that can play some technically gymnastic stuff, and they have been ambitous in terms of long pieces involving various “movements”. However they barely touch the surface level of the sophistication in legitimate classical music. Rush comes up short on all sorts of fundamental rules of music theory (composition, harmony, counterpoint, etc). “Pop” musicians like Billy Joel, the Beatles, and Bruce Hornsby come a lot closer to achieving the sophistication of classical music than do “Progressive bands” like Rush, or Yes. In short, playing fast classical sounding phrases does not make music classical.
    That doesn’t mean Rush makes bad music. I still love the band for what they are; Three guys who (naively) follow their hearts with their playing and writing, creating music thats always honest, often thoughtful, entertaining, and powerful.
    Classically sophisticated? In strictly technical terms-NO

  • Obliquai

    I think BK makes a valid point — although it was not the point he was trying to make. “Three guys who (naively) follow their hearts….” As a RUSH fan (since Fly By Night), I think their “naivity” is what sets them apart. For some, songs like Freewill will sound obnoxious, while for others, it’s the anthem of their (our?) lives — they (we?) recognize something in the lyrics or the music that grasps our very soul. My soul has experienced all the ups and downs of RUSH’s ups and downs. When Signals came out, I refused to buy it at first (Where did they hide the guitars?!? Did they neglect to invite Alex to the recording sessions?!?). Now it’s one of my favourites.
    Yes, RUSH have some bad songs. As a songwriter myself, I have a lot of bad songs. Who cares? If I expected perfection from musicians, I’d be expecting them to be less (no, not more) than human. It’s the humanity that makes the music special. And to listen to RUSH is to listen to three very human individuals who have a love for their music and their instruments.
    And that’s all I have to say about that…. except that perhaps my favourite RUSH song brought tears to my eyes — Manhattan Project.

  • BK

    My points were as I intended. I said I loved Rush for what they are, I parenthesized (naively) as an emphasis. Rush’s honest naivety IS what drives the their quirky, unique style. Above any of their other qualities, that is what maintains a place in my heart for Rush.
    (boy, I was tempted to use the word CLOSER- – – – OOPS!)

  • Michael

    I have read everypost here and I feel I need to bring some things to light. “They’ve always told you, selfeshness was wrong. Yes it was for me, not you, that I came to write this song.” This is a quality that makes me a Rush fan. They never made “radio friendly” songs. You might say that Tom Sawyer and Limelight might be radio friendly but I doubt thats what they were shooting for there.
    I had a friend who was a great jazz drummer but couldn’t play a simple rock beat. So if Neil wants to try and learn Jazz that’s fine with me. He doesn’t need to be great at it he just needs to be happy doing what he’s doing. For those of you who judge the band because you didn’t like Tom Sawyer or you heard New World Man on the radio and said that sucks are wrong. The song might not fit you but you cannot make a judgement or be a critic without judging the whole body of work.

  • Jeramie

    Obliquai, you cried about a song about the development of the nuclear bomb and how the U.S. bombed Japan?

  • Dearwester

    I am a Rush fan and percussionist of over 30 years. I have been playing music for over 25 years. I have studied with and taught the greats so I DO know what I’m talking about. The simple truth is that not everyone can understand the music of Rush. That’s fine and should not be taken badly. I don’t understand opera, but yet I appreciate it for what it is. I don’t like rap, yet understand it’s purpose. As far as Neil’s playing: Neil and I have talked to great lengths about music in general not just percussion. I know he won’t mind me sharing some of his thoughts and ideas here. Neil once told me, “I know this may seem odd to you, but when I sit down and listen to a song, I can actually SEE my parts coming together.” I knew exactly what he meant. When you’ve been playing as long as we have, you start to develope a “sixth sense” about music. You can “see” the next movement coming before it gets there and therefor you can anticipate it and be ready for it. Some call this “improvising”. I call it playing from the heart. Even though our paths may have been different, the journey was the same. I learned how to read and write music, learned all of the rudiments like a “good little drummer” and taught myself how to translate those into what I was hearing in my head. It just makes it easier for me because I know what it is I’m hearing and thus I can access that part and put it together. Neil pretty much does the same thing. Only, Neil can do it without being taught “what it is”.
    I had an opportunity to play along side Neil in what we called a “drum circle”. Most of you would have called it a “duel”. It was more like: I’d play something, change it a little and then he would play it, change it a little and this went back and forth for nearly an hour. It was great fun and a great exercise for both the body and mind. Not only did I have to play what he played but also add to it and try to keep it interesting. Afterwards, we looked at each other and just laughed. So folks, please believe me when I tell you, Neil is a great drummer/percussionist. His inspiration comes from within which is influenced by that which surrounds him. If you asked Neil if HE thought he was the greatest drummer ever, he’d tell you, “NO!”. If you asked me, I’ll tell ya, “YES, next to me” (HAHAHAHA, sorry Neil). Neil is by far the most “gifted” drummer I know. Enough said.
    Thank you,

  • alstott

    I remember listening to 2112 for the first time.(was it ’76 or ’77?- some years are blank!!)It completely changed the way I approached my playing. I had to buy extra drums and cymbals and learn all the intricacies of this amazing drummers ability to play like I’d never heard before. Of course being 17 at the time, I wanted to play Neil all over the place. Finally got over it and learned when to lay back. Plus it didn’t require as much hardware. Anyway, back to Neil-You’ve got to admit that he’s a fantastic drummer.Everybody has their own perspective on who is THE BEST so I won’t even go there. Living in Alaska, I’ve never seen him live. You’d think a band from up north in Canada would do their equally cold fans in Ak.a favor and stop by for a concert.
    Neil Peart is not the kind of drummer that the average person understands. To them he’s “just the drummer”. “oooh, what pretty drums.” You all know what I mean!! He has always been a technical player, only to be admired by those of us who play,whatever your style and wherever he is on your personal list. HOWEVER!!! I just finished viewing the Neil Peart Drum Solo (search Neilssolo). After waiting forever for the download, I was really unimpressed. Neil, where is the spontenaity?? The spark?? Take some vitamins for Christs sake! This solo seemed so uninspired and contrived, it just made me feel sad. Sorta like I feel when I see Aerosmith now.
    Later, good drumming and good night.
    Alan in Alaska

  • Michael

    Wow, I agree with dearwester, I’ve been playing music for 28 years and you can hear the next part before it gets there. I will hear a song for the first time with a friend and know where the drum beats are going before they get there and play along and my friend will ask if I’ve ever heard this song before. If you pay enough attention to the music it’s not hard to see where it’s going. The only problem I’ve had was the first part of Xanadu. If you listen to that you have no idea where it’s going and it comes out great. Again, my opinion is Neil is the best drummer but that’s not everyones and I understand that. I don’t like Eric Clapton’s playing but I definitly think he’s one of the greats. You see it’s ony opinion. The only problem I have is when people say that RUSH sucks and have no argument about there opinion.

    Rock on

  • TommyBoy

    Do you actually believe this crap? Neil Peart’s drum solo is being nominated for a Grammy. I agree with Alstott…Neil’s latest performances are uninspired and tired. It’s not a question of “getting it” or “not getting it.” One quality about any great piece of artwork is that there is a multi-dimensionality and a level of the sublime in it. Neil’s latest playing is so “in your face” and over-the-top that there is little in it that hits me at a deeper level like a Van Gogh self portrait does. It’s like I think, “Wow, that guy can really hit those drums hard and sometimes quickly…but where is the tastefulness?” In a perfect world, Grammys would go to people like Allan Holdsworth or real artists…not always the popular person. And Dearwester, please get over yourself. Your comments above only serve to prove that you lack maturity as a musician.

  • Stewart Copeland

    Neil can play the drums well – case fucking closed as Jimmy Pineapple would say

  • Vern Halen

    How come Rush fans are so passionate ini their defense of their band? Most people say, “Yeah, you don’t like our drummer. Whatever.” What’s the issue here? I know they’re all good technically, etc., but why go out of your way to make their case for them?

  • alstott

    Vern, the defense of Rush is not so much a passion as a continual trek. Since it’s inception, Rush has avoided being pigeoholed as one type of band or another.They are Rush, take it or leave it. People either like them or dislike them for their own reasons. The most I’ve heard about is Geddy’s voice, especially in the beginning. 99 percent of my friends growing up couldn’t stand Rush. This was during the Working Man/2112 years. Yet they would listen to Abba without shame. Fans just get tired of hearing it.If you don’t like Rush, that’s great! No biggie, but we always here the follow-up “I don’t like Rush, they suck.” I personally like Rush very much. I don’t own all their CD’s, Do have some on vinyl even. Haven’t even seen or heard Rush in Rio. Like any band, some of their stuff is great, but some is crap. That doesn’t mean they suck. If a band can be dissected the way some of you have been doing, (I mean-come on!!!! Neil missed a beat???? Get a clue–he’s not yo daddy’s beat maker. HE’S THE DRUMMER!!)then I think they’ve made some contribution. But to some of you, go somewhere else to spew your microscopic breakdown of a possible, maybe, could-be mistake by a really good drummer. It just shows your inability to appreciate the finer points of drumming, which usually have nothing to do with a metronome and everything to do with technique and feeling. But don’t take it personally, we all know that you didn’t know any better. Gotta go now but keep up the comments, all are very interesting in their own way.

  • jeramie

    Yeah, what Alstott said!

  • jeramie

    Ok, time to wake up now Confucius… I mean Dearwester. I agree with you that Neil is the greatest drummer, he’s my hero when it comes to drumming, but unless you did that drum circle thing with him before he joined Rush or while he was doing “Burning for Buddy”, well……..

  • Robbo

    You know what I have learned from this discussion?
    All this talk about whether he is or isn’t this or that makes no difference.
    He’s made some impact on the lives of everyone in here. This makes him important to the music and drumming world.

    30 some odd years and someone found 1 or 2 mistakes. You really should get over that.

    Neil, if you read this at all, I’m a huge fan, and you are not only an influence on my drumming, but an inspiration as well. Peace to you, my friend.

  • Wow. Neil has been most important to me for years. After reading all this, iim blown away. Its nice to see the non-fans pick it apart, which just reinforces the loyality i have to them. Im 38 years old, and been buying thier music since i heard closer to the heart on CFOX in vancouver a loooong time ago. Then , as a kid i was blown away. I beleive grade 6 or 7! Completely unique and inspiring. The part that really freaks me out is that 25 odd years later, i am not sick of a single song. And i listen to a LOT of rush! (ask my friends) Neil is the heart of the band to me, and always has been, but he alone is not them. The amazing thing about rush as a whole, which took a long time to figure out is the math. Yes, the math…When i listen to rush, i hear 1+1+1+3-2+6+6/2 etc….and each band member is doing different math, that together forms a perfect equation….i realize it sounds odd, but i have honestly wondered why it is so appealing to me…it can change my attitiude, make me smile, make me forget, or make me remember…. That siad, the 3 make thier individual elements fit together in a way few others can. Pink Floyd for me is another example, of different genre. I saw someone commenting on lyrics, and read and read, but no one mentioned it….”Bright images flashing by like windshields towards a fly” pretty deep…i’ve tried to do the songwriting he has done, just lyrics. You try. To not come across as your Gramma on Acid is pretty tough! Listen to any radio station for 5 songs. love,…love….girl…etc. Without fail. Then rush comes on playing Subdivisions…A song i’ll never forget, as it spoke to me while in high school, with intense peer group pressure we all had, usually to be an idiot. A couple of times it even stopped me!
    The math thing….Every note of every song is added and counted, i feel. IT is listened to critically to ensure 3 are 1. Lyrics are meant to make you THINK, not hum!
    Why do all of us freaks sit here and carry on abouit the band, and in particular Neil? Its easy..its primal, where every movement and strike he makes blends into the next in a way that reaches deep into our heads and presses buttons that say “ohhhh”. Why eople say he is the best? that seasy to. Been playing air drums for 25 years..he creates sounds not possible….we all wonder how he do that? he must have a third hand! (not to mention incredile seperation of his limbs to act completely independently of each other)I was a video that showed him tapping the ride, while using the opposite end of the stick between strokes to hit the tom directly below the ride! ahhhh….Hey! YOU try it! In a nutshell, it is the precision and flow….Mistakes? hope so, otherwise hes God!
    I have no star struck with neil. he is just another dude on this earth. He is gifted with drums and musical genius and math. I, build the worlds BEST vintage wrist watches. WE both wake up in the morning scratch, curse the cold and put our pants on. He has had some horribly shitty events in his life. Me too. YOU too, i bet. I know if he was reading this hed say “get me off the pedasatel. i like to play drums. i practice a lot. I like fantasy and thought provocation in my lyrics. Sometimes just an escape…. but im a person just like you.”
    All us rush freaks (which you will be amazed at if you take in a conceet…no “middle of the road” fans there. Every single one absolutely BUZZING EXCITED. ) are hear for one reason…we listen to the music, it is uique and stands alone, and has the uncanny ability to provoke emotions unlike any other band. I was in awe at Las Vegas 3 years ago. Couldn’t speak. Wierd, eh? LAst year in SanFrancisco paid $550 for front center, and took my 9 year old little girl too. Honestly, front center wsa a mistake. 8th row, in las vegas was religeous…front row was overdose. 6 feet from ALex, sang note for note withhim every song, and neil did notice me with my drumsticks playing every song as his shadow…I actually started to feel a bit embarresed that i could match his every beat…started to realize that i had listened to tom sawyer, and played along literally thousands of times. The only point of awe struck was “mystic Rythyms”. The drumming on that song in particular, while nowhere near his best examples, is a combination of sounds that really sound like poetry and has a heavy subliminal effect. Listen…youll see!
    Anyway, i realize ive covered the whole spectrum here. Bottom line, if you don’t like them, listen closely to any one of the three on any song. They are amazing muscians. Or , go to a concert and watch how 3 guys fill a cavernous arena with sounds it takes other bands 5 people to produce. Skill beyond words, a very odd ability to climb into our skulls and push pleasure receptors (hey! did you guys sell your soul for rock n roll?!)And then we do all the rest by linking life events to the music…good, and bad.
    WE also respect and love the precision of thier work. On the new album, for example, vapur trails did zip, i mena zero for me. BOOM BOOM BOOM…on the other hand ghost rider has fit in right beside limelight, mystic, tom sawyer hemispheres etc. THATS the music i love.
    IF your trying to figure us out, theres your answer.. IF you still can’t, don’t be surprised….Rush fans are generally far intellectually superior to any others…..HAHA! jokeing!
    38, a vintage wrist watch restorer and dealer, husband, father of 2 GREAT kids, big vintage home in the right neighborhood… blasting RED BARCHETTA as loud as i can , hoping the wife is gone a little while longer, freaking out the Judge across the street! Of course, playing note for note on my drums!
    they are a big part of my life. 25 years together…longer than the 20 years for me and my wife anniversary shoot! TODAY!!!!! Gotta get flowers!
    Don’t overanalyze…just be amazed….
    i have said my piece. Thanx for bearing with my babble. Forgive the spelling too…its almost 3:00AM!



  • John Galt

    Wow, you people have a lot of time on your hands, all of you putting your ideas in the box hoping someones mind will be persuaded.

    FIRST things first, there is no such thing as “The Greatest Drummer in the World” because you cant compare say two great drummers like
    Levon Helm and Neil Peart, they are too far apart…

    What makes Neil great is that he has his own style, you can definatly tell his influences, but he isnt “copying” anyone.

    FOr example Mike Portnoy, he may be a drummer but everything I have heard sounds just like Neil even a solo I have heard, he doesnt have his own style…
    Same with Stewart Copeland, Ringo Star, or Bill Bruford.

    Now I think that now Peart is suffering from “Clapton’s” disease, where he feels that everytime he touches a drumstick he has to create something magical, If I felt that way Id be tired too.

    There will never be “The next “Rush”” because any band that wants that spot is going to have to beat out Rush,

    for every Generation of music there has been Rush, Early 70’s, Mid 70’s, late 70’s 80’s, 90’s and today, few bands can do that, and still be good.

    Even though Vapour Trails and the newer Rush albums are my least favourite, they are still great.

    As long as rush puts out new stuff I am happy… Keep on Keepin On


  • wombat

    “Cut to the Chase” on Counterparts.
    That’s all I think Mr. Peart is doing.

    In the end, he doesn’t give a frog’s fat ass about what we think. Get on with your lives.

    I’m a huge fan, always will be. By the way, great ideas come from mistakes.

  • Anthony

    What a very modest guy Neil is, we’ll fight about who is the best drummer and the best lyricist is, but you will never hear Neil say he is the best .
    And everybody knows he is !!!
    Without even a close second
    The Best !
    Very surgical
    Extremely well thought out lyrics .
    It’s one thing to be able to play like Peart.
    It’s quite another to invent it .
    I will be so sad when there are no more New Rush tunes .
    I live for this band . . .

  • mario

    Best is a mater of opinion, here is a clip from Drummer world

    “Neil Peart is the most popular drummer today. When it comes to voting in Modern Drummer or Drummer world – Neil Peart is always the No. 1.”

    As for his lyrics, they are progressive and brilliant, IMO. It may be to cleaver for some.

  • Email me.
    Thank you!

  • Clark

    Ok, here’s my review of freewill.

    Freewill stands out in many respects. While not my favorite Rush song, it outdoes the best of most artists easily. It is a well-composed and very catchy song. Not only is the melody line great, the basswork and precussion are amazing. It is both a musically and lyrically sound peice.

    The lyrics deal with just what the name suggests, Freewill. Doesn’t seem like typical rock lyrics, does it? Well, that’s why I like it. It actually means something to me. It has a message, and a very good one at that. Looking at the lyrics without the music, you probably couldn’t even tell it was a song. You might think it was poetry. Surprisingly enough, the words go very well to the music. I think this has a lot do with the writing style. Unlike most bands, Rush writes their lyrics first and then puts them to music. I think this does away with a lot of the limitations. For example, you wont find yourself saying, “I need a phrase that goes good after this. But it goes from 4/4 time to 7/3 time right there, and I can’t fit in any good words.” Well, if you write you lyrics first, you won’t have that problem. Music is much more flexible than the english language.

    But what exactly is being said in the lyrics? Well, a variety of things. It it basically saying that our futures are all products of what we choose to do. No one else has control over it. God doesn’t force you to do anything, everything is your personal choice. It talks about how some people believe forces such as karma control their everday lives. “The stars aren’t aligned, or the gods are malign.” Well, I’m probably embellishing my own opinion, so i’ll let you read them for yourself. The lyrics lay out the foundation, but much of it seems pretty ambiguous. However, it’s not hard to get the general idea.

    Even better than the lyrics, is of course the music. It is just jaw-dropping. This is some of the best work by all three band members. At times, it sounds like I’m listening to an entire orchestra. It starts out with a strong guitar riff by Alex Lifeson, a true virtuoso. His creativity and natural ability are amazing. You hear Geddy Lee’s bass come in next, followed by some background synths. When Neil Peart’s manical percussion beings, Geddy starts singing. By the time this song was released, his vocals had started to settle down, appealing to more and more people. The melody of the song is surprisingly catchy, something you can’t help at least hum to. The song goes along smooth, with a very consistant, driving beat. Lifeson’s guitar decrescendos into a riff which would be a seemingly normal spot to end the spot. But it doesn’t end. This is what I love about Rush. Time, rhythm, and melody change as Geddy Lee plays one of the most awe-inspiring bass lines I have ever heard. The way his bass works with Neils precussion sends shivers down my spine. Alex’s starts his distorted solo which leads into a shredding jam session. It goes down in my books as one of the best instrumental parts of a song, ever. It is simply amazing. The only part of the song I have any quam about is Geddy’s vocals on the following verse. They seem to go up an octave unecessarily. Other than that, the song comes to a rockin’ end, leaving you on a musical high. (haha)

  • jdshepp806

    Man,..what an ear”full” here…. I thank Neil for having given me a soundtrack to my life…There exists no other band that has moved me to the degree this band has….No one compares to these guys (for me…) I’m far too exhausted at the previous post reads,….so I’ll keep it simple.

    To the RUSH bashers: thank you for NOT understanding,..we understand why you don’t understand (sadly) but are gracious for your contribution of absence from the shows making more productive room for us disciples to experience the epiphany. A smirk and subsequent silence is what’s deserved (and reserved) of/for your shallow responses. I shan’t waste precious time in debating (or moreso “arguing”) the points. We RUSH fans know and understand what’s being presented…and THAT is ALL that matters to us. This will forever remain the fact of the matter, regardless of negative statements. If you don’t like RUSH, don’t listen. Shut the fuck up and get out of our frame…it’s distracting, depressing and TRULY laughable…
    RUSH’s stuff is above the naysayers’ capabilities
    to even understand…….

    Long live this legendary band!!

  • Joshua Barrett

    Neil Peart has that creative imagination that emanates from youthful curiosity. It is like watching a newborn child gurgle — eyes searching in an almost confused sort of way — as he wants to say something profound but does not quite know what the proper exit sounds should be. He summed up life when he offered “You’re only immortal for a limited time.” It was like he was mocking Philosophy 101 books, or something.

  • Freddie

    Rush is perfect.

  • Shanaynay

    Neil’s cute. I love drums!!!!

  • tacyscott

    an origanal like mr. peart is a rare treat. 25 years of playing drums . i understand the nead to change. i dont like all of his work. but i dont like all of anyones work! the mans a great human, and a fantastic drummer.

  • ed banger

    Growing up in Canada in the 70s, teenagers there had no choice but to listen to Rush because of a 25 percent Canadian content law that was enforced on the airwaves. The Toronto trio was as much a part of the aural landscape of the country as Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot and Men Without Hats.
    My friend’s older brother, Luis “The Beef” Frazao, always blasted Rush (usually “2112” “2012”?) all the time – and then tortured us more with a helping of Kate Bush and Judas Goat immediately after. Then we would put on Van Halen. It was a bizarre time. Punk rock came along and I never listened to that crap again – but favourite Rush track is the one where Geddy Lee’s balls were put in a vice and he shouts “to the sound of SALESMEN!” and “Concert Hall.”
    To check out Rush 21st century – see Alex Lifeson in the comedy show “Trailer Park Boys” – a true depiction of Rush fans 21st century. Sounds like some of you people need to consign your Bob Seger, John Mellonhead, Foreigner, Aerosmith, Van Hager albums to the dustbin and move into the new millennium. Good music is out there always if you search for it. Don’t be knocking Mozzer.
    RIP Rush – Ed Banger

  • Andy T

    I’ve just finished reading ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. This was definitely Neil’s inspiration to write the lyrics to “Free Will”.

  • to Paul the troll

    ” Mr. Peart’s attempt to become a “jazz” drummer has not been successful”
    Are you really serious? Neil never left rush in search of a jazz band career, and to suggest such is moronic. Neil, of course, never pretended to be a “jazz drummer”. He is recognizing his roots. Part of maturing, musically. Of course, that is way above someone of Paul’s intellect to be able to understand.
    Sorry, Paul. Attacking Peart will require more intellectual ammo than you possess.

  • Efrain

    Neil Peart is the best drummer

  • If it was not for the music and lyrics of RUSH, i would be dead. I suffer from cronic depression, and the only thing to raise my spirits is the wonderful music of RUSH. All those people out there who criticise Neil are RAP FANS!



  • Seth

    Hey guys I am working on a project for my music class and I am analyzing “Working Man” Here is the problem with the release of all the greatest hits cds (Sprit of Radio, Chronicles)is the song ever replayed by Peart ? I am wondering if they ever remastered the song or just kept John Rutsey’s version. If there is a diffrence I sure as hell can’t tell. Thanks.

  • Joe R

    Neil is the man! thats all their is to it. as far as Privitere goes, he is currently in Brainard Project. Saw them last week, they are almost done with their first album. i wouldnt compare him to peart though, styles are different, so is the music!


  • These are wonderful arguments and commentaries. It really made me smile! Thanks guys! Please join your fellow RUSH fans from over 35 nations in the largest RUSH fan group on the planet!

  • Lou

    Wow, a very long discussion indeed. The tours mentioned have come and passed. I have been a fan of Rush since the late 70’s when I was between child and teenager just discovering that there was other things besides tree forts and dirt clod fights in the fields, that of the guitar and music. Now, almost 30 years later, I am still a fan of Rush. I just saw them last month in Reno, NV and while the sound was terrible (IMO these guys sound much better outside than in), the playing was consistent with what I expect. I have rarely been disappointed by their performance but I have to say that the day is approaching when they will have to give it up. I just can’t see them continuing on years longer. They’ve covered much ground and while the “Snakes and Arrows” album is probably the best they’ve produced since “Counterparts”, I do notice the toll being taken on them of being so long in the business. That is life. Everything degrades, including Rush. I would hope that they will call it quits before they become like the Rolling Stones who are a joke IMO. You can spend lavishly to boost the ratings but you cannot fight age. You can not also hide it. Rush still plays well enough for me to enjoy but I can see they are not the band they were in my, or their, youth. Please understand that I speak as a loyal fan with serious respect. They have earned every inch of ground they cover unlike a lot of bands who are brilliant for a short time and then ride that brilliance into anonymity. About the Stones, who goes to their concerts these days expecting great music? I recently heard a version of “Satisfaction” that sounded like shit. It was off their last tour, not too long past, and IMO I think people go to these shows because they grew up with their music or they want to see what it looks like for a bunch of 70 or near 70 year olds trying to pull off a rock concert? I don’t want Rush to do that. Do any of you?

  • Stephen Christopher

    Just saw the July 4th show in Atlantic City. Just a couple comments:

    I won’t comment much on Neil’s drumming, other than I find it mechanically sound, but surprisingly lacking in soul. He is a fine technician, but I don’t find it expressive. And frankly, for aging artists (everyone gets old), the technical prowess leaves long before the expressiveness does (B.B. King, for example).

    As for lyrics, I think he’s heading into George Carlin territory. What do I mean by that? George was at his best in the 70’s, top of his game. As he grew older, he became bitter, openly hostile, and intolerant. He made it no secret what he thought, that he had no hope in humankind or the future in general. He hated politicians, religion, and just about any authority figure. The problem was… he was no longer funny. Anyone who saw a recent concert would remember an old man on stage ranting to an audience who just wanted him to give his “stuff” schtick.

    Neil’s lyrics are growing continually depressing, cynical, and critical. Not in a mature way, mind you, but reflective of a person who has given up hope. From “The Larger Bowl (S&A)”:

    Somethings Can Never Be Changed
    Some Reasons Will Never Come Clear
    It’s Somehow So Badly Arranged
    If We’re So Much The Same Like I Always Hear

    Some Are Blessed And Some Are Cursed
    The Golden One Or Scarred From Birth
    While Others Only See The Worst
    Such A Lot Of Pain On The Earth

    Problem is, he’s wrong. “Somethings Can Never be Changed?” Are you kidding? I don’t know about Mr. Peart, but there are plenty of people around the world working very hard to put things right — regardless of their political/religious/philosophical leanings. I’m not calling him to task on that, but for such a smart guy, he’s always been short on answers. And recently, short on hope. What happened to the optimism of “Natural Science”:

    The most endangered species —
    The honest man
    Will still survive annihilation
    Forming a world —
    State of integrity
    Sensitive, open, and strong

    I’ve been a big Rush fan for a long time. I used to enjoy Neil’s lyrics because they were thought -provoking and literate. Now, as an adult, I feel like he doesn’t have much to offer.

    Frankly, I’m not surprised that a humanist (or, specifically, an objectivist) would be disillusioned by their philosophy as they grew older. I just think it makes for bad lyrics.

    And I’ll chime in on the Free Will discussion. Since when does a faith in God preclude free will? Jews and Christians (and Muslims, I believe) all believe in the Free Will of the individual.

    If you’re going to criticize someone for their beliefs (as Neil has in his blogs and interviews), at least take the time to learn what those beliefs are.

  • Matt B

    Johnny lunch has made some perceptive comments. I think you’re right about what has happened to Neil’s drumming – the onset of his jazz complex, which began after he performed for the first time at the dreaded Buddy Rich Memorial concert back in 1994. He had to go to Freddy Gruber to help him re-vitalise his approach to drumming. I think Neil has always been primarily interested in writing, the drumming has been a secondary thing. I would think he spends more time these days writing than he does on the drum kit. Either way, he’s still a great technician. I think his drumming on Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures and Signals are his remembered drumming achievements. However, since the Test for Echo album, his drumming definitely has improved and shows the influence of excellent drumming instruction from Gruber, which has given his drumming a rounded feel than the linear metronomic one he adopted on Roll the Bones. Well, Rush are thinking up a new album and Neil has spent months analysing his drumming approach, even specialising during this time on developing hi-hat technique. Good luck to my old pal on the next album! He loves Macallan Malt whisky. So do I!

  • Free Willy

    ” We do have improvisational periods during sound checks and we record them and at the end of the tour we sift through them and look for anything that happened that was magic.”

    Uh huh..peart and the other 2 stooges ought to know ALL about “magic”.They’ve been entrenched in the occult since the beginning.Kinda explains the longevity and financial success that seems to be an “unusual” constant with these bozos.

    Dont dismiss this as readily as you’d like.ALL of their “work” and albums/CD artwork is an ongoing display of to just WHAT extent the rushettes have been using “unusual means” to progress their empire.
    this video i found DOES explain several things you can dismiss and deny ONLY if you’re a typical brainwashed “rushmanic”.. BUT it DOES explain a LOT of things that might otherwise be a mystery concerning these flakes.

    Then again, seems the “elite” that fawn over the rushettes wont really “get it “.

    I still challenge you to check the video with an open mind.Unless of course yours has been washed ?