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The Friday Morning Listen: Rush – Caravan

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A couple of nights ago, I watched a nearly hour-long interview with Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush. Their relationship and history is a rare one in rock music. Heck, it's rare in any creative endeavor. Longtime friends, they met before high school. Who else can we put in that category? Jagger/Richards is one. Lennon and McCartney certainly would have been. Maybe the U2 fellas?

While watching the interview, I was struck with how down to earth the guys are. They actually got into that a little bit, the fact that they purposely avoided most of the trappings of rock stardom, feeling that the attachment to a certainly level of celebrity can be one factor in the dissolution of a band. The other big reason they're still together is a simple one: they like each other. Friendships over the long term are tricky things to maintain, especially in situations where creative activities are forced to be "work."

In a way, Rush got lucky. Things were looking bleak after Fly By Night, and there was record label pressure for something more commercial. The guys decided to be true to themselves and follow their own instincts. Instead of an album with a three and a half minute, radio-ready single, they came out with 2112. The "luck" I speak of is the fact that the label left them alone after that, figuring that they knew what they were doing. Not many bands obtain that kind of freedom. Not many bands are around long enough to get there.

Longevity has become an extremely rare thing in the rock world. Record label near-sightedness and ghetto-ized and consolidated radio have held risk-taking at arm's length. At least, that used to be the story.

These days, bands rely less on major labels and more on their own energy to attain their goals. Yeah, we're not completely sure where it's headed, but I'm heartened by the fact that interesting music drops into my lap nearly every week (Strangely, a lot of it comes from Brooklyn. What's in the water over there?), almost none of it has involvement from the majors. It feels like a new era is here, where artists can do what they do best, without having to deal with pressure from some dude in a suit.

Rush is getting ready to go out on their "Time Machine" tour. After that, they'll be hitting the studio to complete Clockwork Angels, to be released in 2011. It's great to see a band hang around for so long, still doing vital work. Here's hoping that this new era of unshackled creativity produces similarly great results down the road.

Let's talk about it. Forty years from now.

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About Mark Saleski

  • thanks for drawing my attention to the interview. where’s Neil?

  • they mention that he “couldn’t make it” or “couldn’t be here”…something like that. yeah, the three of them in this format would have been great.

  • They come off as such regular fellas, possibly a Canadian thing. I loved their apparent discomfort as the host read their intro of their accomplishments

  • yeah, it was pretty genuine. i might have to watch it again.

  • it has me enthused for the show in August

  • Caravan has taken a few listens, but it’s a really intense piece of music. Some of the criticisms have been laid on the vocal lines, but the playing is superb.

    BU2B has some of the slicker bass lines that Geddy has done in a long time.

    The boys have hit a stride over the last few years.

  • one slight correction- it was Caress of Steel that was the bleak album (and the subsequent, aptly-named Down The Tubes tour) that was followed up by 2112.

  • I was wondering when someone was going to point that out (#7)…

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Nice Article…

    Yea.. I really don’t think that whole “Posh Celeb” attitude works anymore. For that matter, I don’t think it ever did for bands that are “Musician’s Music”. Honestly, that kind of shitty mentality is for “artists” who are more concerned about their image then the quality of music being produced and it is very fucking apparent here in the US!

    RUSH is one of those bands where the members figured out early on that,whatever the cost, creating your own sound & shaping our own “voice”, no matter what influences may seep through, is the most important aspect in making music. That and being really good at playing your instruments which was the weapon of choice for RUSH.

    What record label, in their right fucking mind, would walk away from them after hearing what they can produce without most of the studio magic that has weakened our music industry?!

    Granted, I may not have liked their newer material as much as their classic stuff,BUT, I would rather be stuck with just a copy of “Snakes & Arrows” then have to choose between all the shit that has ever plagued the Top 40 for the past 5 years.

    *Gets off his soapbox*

  • re:#7 – argh, that’s what dyslexia and not enough sleep will get a person.