...my hard cover coffee table book in which I have two Rush experts per
studio album go off...and off they did! It turned out absolutely top shelf,
from the design and image selection, to all the smart talk enclosed. So far,
discerning fans—and are there any more discerning than Rush fans?—are loving
the novel concept.
As my introduction to the book states...
In the immortal words of Yngwie Malmsteen, “Who says less is more?! More is
more!” Or, you know, something to that effect. Six degrees of separation,
Yngwie loved Rush, Yngwie covered Rush on record, I’ve interviewed Yngwie many
times, Yngwie said this to Sam Dunn in the process of Metal Evolution,
a project that I worked on with Banger Films. Banger, of course, produced the
award-winning film Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, which I also worked
on full-time for like a year.
But I was pondering the bulky Swede’s words of wisdom as I walked to work this
morning listening to an old Rush bootleg on my iPod (by the way, Geddy was not
a ducker of the notes live—holy crap). A debate amongst me and my music buds,
and indeed a point of conjecture in the progressive metal episode of Metal
Evolution, is that very concept, “more is more,” which I basked in
figuratively like baked beans in a tub as I sprung step to intimate versions
of “La Villa Strangiato,” “The Trees” and “Something for Nothing” striding to
the office in my yellow and green Soulfly shirt (always a nod-getter).
So yes, where were we? As our cast of characters know all too well, the snobby
rock cognoscenti have always put down Rush, because of course, they believe
less is more. Punk rock, folkies, music for airports, old blues sides from the
‘30s... we’re supposed to find the art between the spaces, in what is left
unsaid, and project our own interpretations onto lyrics because we’re so smart
and it’s all about us. Well, the Rush philosophy was, why not just try harder?
And guess what, you can still do all that other reflection about the spaces.
Why start on the bottom shelf and have to stack everything on top of it until
The idea with Rush is, let’s start on the top shelf together, let’s give you a
lot of music, some of the chords are a little weird, you might twist an ankle
dancing to it and you’ll probably look goofy trying. And if you’ve got any
reflecting grey matter left, here’s a bunch of lyrics, which, likely together
combust up synergistically to make even more story, because, like, more is
more. Oh sure, Rush try to play the game, positing with a witch cackle, our
more is more is even more, because we’re even going to include less is more!
But alas, it’s not in their nature, and so the point I’m trying to make is,
‘80s and ‘90s records included, Rush and their substantial music and lyrics
and productions and album covers made it pretty darn easy to build this book
and to have it be recurrently and even relentlessly interesting.
Somewhat to my surprise, for a couple things were happening here. Number one,
this is only the second book in this series, the first of which was on
frickin’ Bob Dylan. Talk about stacking up a challenge with harmonica dents to
the head. I knew we’d have no problem killing Bob Dylan on the music. It would
take some sky-high Lower Eastside air of condescension to get most people to
believe his version of less is more (T)rumps Rush when it comes to the music.
There’s no way I’m buying that. I knew this book would kill Bob Dylan on the
music, meaning, logically like Spock, there’s more to talk about here. That’s
just a fact. We can talk about good taste and bad taste until we’re blue
bloods in the face, but the harder objective surface of craft will always win
out in the end. That’s what all those old Vertigo Records albums are so
I was a little more apprehensive on philosophies, concepts, themes, lyrics,
and I soon found out I shouldn’t have been. Because, again, even if you don’t
believe more is more, any open-minded person can believe that more can be
more, and Neil has always provided more. And he certainly provided more than
enough to keep busy and engaged all these smart people you’re about to meet.
It’s a fast canon of lyrics, and like with his charted and then replicated
fills, well, Neil tries harder. And so bloody ‘ell, halfway through this
process I was about ready to concede no ground to Bob Dylan, widely considered
rock music’s greatest poet, although, screw it, does he even play rock music?
Second, I was apprehensive of having people from all walks of life expound on
Rush, and have it be not only engaging but stacked with enough new concepts
and provocative ideas to make this gorgeous book useful. It’s not that I was
worried about these people more so than my long bias about having the band
themselves be the main speakers in the books I do. Again, my fears were
quickly allayed through the pile of completely engaging, fun,
thought-provoking conversations I had across this catalogue across a wide
swath of humanity parachuting in to breathe life into often ignored corners of
And I think that was the key, that we strived for and built a perfect balance
in the cast of people, including those who could technically analyze music (in
composite and split between guitar, bass and drums), complementing those who
could place Rush smartly within the pop culture and the music industry of each
specific album’s launch date, buttressed by those who most deeply felt the
lyrics on any number of intellectual and emotional levels.
And I must admit, again, from a base of thinking, “How do we match the quality
of the Bob Dylan book?” to “I love this damn book—this is awesome!”... it was
bloody effortless in the baking and the making. The long and short of it, I
have every confidence in the fact that after reading this book, you will be
able to look at each and every one of these at times contentious Rush records
in completely new rainbows of refracted light, and you will join me in now,
forever, defending the likes of Rush (and yes, I don’t mean just Rush, I mean
all of our prog heroes) against the barbs of the Rock Hall tastemakers that
think Yngwie is yucky.
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