Forty Years of Rush


     There are few celebrities I truly like and respect. Caitlyn Jenner is growing on me right now, but otherwise I just don’t care. As my friend Claudia likes to say, “Susan, if Mark Ruffalo came up to you, you’d ask him for a tic-tac, because you wouldn’t even know who he was.”

      This is true for most famous people, not just Mark Buffalo or whatever.
      But if any one of those three guys from Canada were standing in my presence, I would surely turn into a blathering idiot. I wouldn’t even be able to form the words to ask them if they had tic-tacs. I admit it. I’d be completely and utterly starstruck.
      The scene at the Greensboro Coliseum was familiar, one I’d seen fifteen other times: a huge, murmuring crowd, a mysterious stage obscured by a giant curtain, ninety percent of the audience aging guys with long hair wearing some type of heavy metal band t-shirt, and the occasional chick thrown into the mix.
     When the lights dim and the curtain comes up, the next two hours are the most surreal moments a true Rush fan will ever experience.
      We’re not talking about Kiss (whom I’ve also seen several times), or Ozzy, or Maiden, or even Taylor Swift. We’re talking about the trio from Toronto who has been doing this for over forty years, guys who have scratched and clawed their way to success, men who have warmed the hearts of fans (mainly musicians) all over the world. Men whose talent completely blows my mind. Guys who have created music they wanted to create, without regard for what’s popular or trendy.
      I mean, really, how many bands do you know who have lyrics like, “For I have dined on honeydew, and drank the milk of paradise”? I’m fairly certain neither Kiss nor Taylor Swift have any reference to honeydew in any of their songs.
      Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart are not your average celebrities. I like them. I respect them. They hold a special place in my heart, and take up 57% of my iPod Nano space. I’ve had numerous dreams about them over the years, usually involving being on a bus or a plane, and I turn around and there they are! Claudia says there is probably a twelve-step program for my illness.
      I am not ill. I’m simply a huge fan. And here’s why.
      I am in my early forties. This was Rush’s 40thanniversary tour. I have literally been listening to them my entire life. I have never not known Rush.
      My earliest memories are of being in my brother’s room, begging him to let me hang out in there while he put Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves on the record player. My first sexual awareness was looking at the back cover of 2112 and seeing Alex wearing that tight, white robe, and thinking that that bulge down there was something I’d like to investigate further.
      Their faces and voices are as familiar to me as my own family’s. I’m quite sure they don’t feel the same way about me, because a) they have never met me, and b) Neil once wrote, “I can’t pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend.” They may not regard me as family, but in a way, they are mine. I have never not known them.
      The R40 show was unlike any other. They began with their most recent music first and played songs in a reverse chronological order, so that by the end, they were playing songs from their first album, the one released just after I was born.
      It was like listening to the soundtrack of my life, going back in time. With each song, a memory surfaced: Second year I was dating Terry! My days in the Air Force! First year of college! Junior year of high school! Eighth grade! Third grade!
      I am not ashamed to say that listening to certain songs brought tears to my eyes. If it was released during a particularly tumultuous year of my life, it was most certainly their music that gave me solace, and to hear it live made me realize how far I’ve come from those days. They may be in their sixties now, but they still rocked that auditorium as much as they did the first time I saw them on the Hold Your Fire tour in 1988.
      After forty years, I must come to grips with the fact that they are probably tired of this. I don’t blame them. It grieves me to think that the Greensboro show might be my last Rush concert ever, but I am trying to wrap my mind around it, much in the same way I am trying to prepare myself for the departure of my sixteen-year-old cat. She is getting tired, too.
      So this blog is dedicated to that holy triumvirate, those poets who taught me to ignore the critics, whose words, “It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit/it’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it” got me through some seriously fucking dark times. This is for the guys whose music is the soundtrack of my entire life.
      Thanks, Rush, for everything.

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