I posted this on the Rush Forum, but would have posted here, if I knew that the board was back!
The disbelief has worn off a bit, and I've been able to wrap my brain around all this.
And so many poignant words have already been typed, with so many fans expressing thoughts and emotions that I share.
I think the deal with so many die-hard fans is that the connection to the band is somewhat intimate for us. Rush was a discovery that was OURS. In the heyday, when Rush were still a cult band, it meant instant friendship if you discovered someone else at your school was a Rush fan. And there was palpable excitement when you'd hear them on the radio, or catch a video on MTV (by 1990, seeing Rush on MTV was RARE, but it happened!).
Sewn into the Rush fabric of fandom is the interconnectedness that the ENTIRE Rush community has with each other. There are thousands, maybe millions of us, and we have an immediate understanding of the core sensibilities of each and every one of us.
The band itself, shares in that interconnectedness -- like plants in a rainforest.
So when someone, like Neil Peart, passes away, we feel that loss as a collective organism. We are all a part of it. The feeling of loss gets magnified because we can imagine the many thousands of people (whom we don't know) grieving the way we are. Very much like the Force.
The foundation for all of this, of course, is the band, and their musical output: 45 Years of interesting music. From bar band rock and roll to prog metal - to pop music. From GREAT to embarassing (haha!). 3 middle class, down-to-earth suburban dudes who share a special musical alchemy head out into the world to find their fortune. Neil Peart was the ultimate US - intelligent, powerful, brooding, bookish, artistic, musical. We knew, when we were 16, that being a jock, or courting popularity, was just not in the cards, and as Rush showed, not at all necessary. That it was all a trick. That being a follower meant death.
That was the dream for so many fans: leaving home and conquering the world with their friends. And friendship is at the heart of all of this. Real friendship is through thick and thin, drunk or sober, fat or skinny.
The groupie fantasy is just that - I mean shit it happens, and it's so much fun being young, in a band, getting non-stop pussy, but all of that is fleeting. That's not why we are fans of Rush. It's deeper. Motley Crue is a fun rock and roll band, but be honest: you don't really go back to those records like you do with Rush, or other GREAT bands.
Can you get more "fantasy" than the 80s glam-rock heyday? How ridiculous! All the posturing, pouting and bullshit, and not to mention the havoc it wreaked on the actual lives of so many of these musicians. Rush just sailed above all that.
Ironically, Rush was maligned by critics for being "fantasy music". "Sci-Fi, nerdy, dorky..." But it was so much more grounded in reality than EVERYTHING else. The truth is that their music disturbed critics, because it made that the other nonsense they were highlighting (because of money, drugs, whatever reason) so much more apparent. Perhaps look at a side by side of 80s Geddy vs. 80s Vince Neil. Geddy (no makeup, giant nose, glasses) makes Vince (makeup, blond tresses) look utterly hilarious.
Critics HATED Rush because Rush (Especially Neil f***ing Peart) wouldn't play the dumb game.
It's no mystery that critics made their real money blackmailing bands - promising good stories in exchange for money and access. Rush worked on a much more natural system - quid pro quo. You be nice to us FIRST, and maybe we'll let YOU in.
Think of all the blow Motley Crue had to buy for all those Radio scumbags...
It's so sad that it takes Neil Peart's passing to inspire me, and remind me of those reasons why I loved the band to begin with.
What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story
In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your song
I resolve to embrace music more, to follow my muse more, to give more love to the world (and those I already love). To be a better citizen of the world. To recognize that the clock is ticking, and that the time to act is now.
What a gift to the world Neil Peart was, and IS!