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91-Rush_ClockworkAngels_DCA Hot Humid Day in South Bend

On July 24, 2008, Rush finished its “Snakes and Arrows” tour with a concert in Indianapolis. I was researching that day at Notre Dame, and I could easily have made the 1.5-hour trip south to see them. For lots of reason (none of which I remember very well now), I decided not to go. With the announcement that same year that Rush might not be touring anytime soon, I feared I might have made a serious mistake. “I think we’re gonna stay quiet for awhile and then start writing—when we’re going to start writing I can’t say just yet,” Geddy Lee said. “It may be in the fall, maybe the spring, maybe the following spring. But eventually we’ll start writing some songs and recording them, and hopefully that will be followed up by another tour down the road a couple years from now” [Dutch Progressive Rock Page, The Headlines of Week 48 – 2008].

As it turned out, Rush did get back together and fairly quickly. My anxiety was for naught!

Not only did they release two singles (a rarity for the band), but they went on a massive tour called “Time Machine,” complete with hilarious videos, movies, and the full performance of their best known album, 1981’s “Moving Pictures.” In almost every way—playing, singing, performing, and acting (these guys are simply hilarious)—the three members of Rush are at the height of their playing and ability. The new material from “Snakes and Arrows” (2007) as well as from “Vapor Trails” (2002) is simply fabulous. Indeed, these last two cds are the best things Rush has produced—lyrically and musically—since “Grace Under Pressure” (1984). To my thinking, there’s not a bad song on either cd.

The current makeup of the band—Geddy Lee on vocals, bass guitar, and keyboards; Alex Lifeson on guitars; and Neil Peart on drums and lyrics—has existed since 1974, and each of the members approaches the age of sixty. Today, Rush’s twentieth studio album, “Clockwork Angels,” is being released. More on this in a bit.Though most regard 1981’s “Moving Pictures” as Rush’s masterpiece, I’ve always been most taken with “Grace Under Pressure.” I even had the gall in a liberal-arts core course my sophomore year of college (spring of 1988) to write a major paper on the lyrics of the album, trying to piece together a coherent philosophy. I’m sure to many The Imaginative Conservative readers, this just sounds nothing short of bizarre. But, “Grace Under Pressure” deals with concentration camps, ideologies, artificial intelligence, fear, death, and almost every complication imaginable in human life. From the opening note to the last, every part of the music and the lyrics radiate intensity. For a high-school student first encountering this in 1984, this was truly heady stuff. A title from Hemingway, a song based on a Ray Bradbury story, and references to T.S. Eliot’s poetry? It didn’t get much better for me. And, frankly, even at the age of 44, I’m still very moved by this album.

Peart’s words and ideas remain thought provoking. Of course, when have his lyrics or ideas not been thought-provoking? If you’ve ever heard any of his lyrics, you know exactly what I mean. Peart has been intriguing me since I first encountered Rush’s music, sitting with two friends in the Liberty Junior High library, in detention, in the spring of 1981.

Again, for a teenager growing up in small-town Kansas, the music of Rush meant everything to me. Being the youngest of three brothers, I had been introduced to what is now generally referred to as “progressive rock” since around 1971, when I was turning four. Though we had lots of classical and jazz in the house, we also, as far back as I can remember, had Yes, Genesis, Moody Blues, and Kansas albums. For whatever reason, though, my brothers had not gotten into early Rush. So, my first encounter came from my two friends in seventh grade—Brad Libby and Troy Schwartz. These were great guys, and though I’ve not stayed in touch with either, I still have fond memories of these guys. As we sat in the library (we were supposed to be silent), we talked, mostly about music. Troy and Brad were far more mature, frankly, than I was, and I’m sure they’d been exposed to much more worldly things than I had. “Brad, you’ve got to hear ‘Tom Sawyer’! It’s incredible.”

So, with money I had saved from mowing lawns, I purchased “Moving Pictures,” and I would be lying if I said this didn’t change my entire world. For a very, very lost and lonely young teenager, I can state with complete honesty (but, understandably, no details) that I would probably not be alive today had I not had the encounter with this band and especially with Peart’s lyrics that I had. Indeed, I think I can state this with a significant amount of certainty.

Frankly, I’d never encountered a mind like Peart’s. In my world, only Tolkien and Bradbury rivaled Peart’s intelligence and intellect. He had seemingly read everything (and, I still don’t doubt this), and his music touched upon all the major themes that meant something deep and profound for me. He knew mythology, he knew fantasy (Tolkien, Bradbury, and others) and dystopian literature, and he knew the great authors of the past several centuries. The world of his characters always seemed very real to me. And, perhaps, most importantly at the time—especially given severe family dysfunction and social pressures—Peart taught me, almost single-handedly, that living with integrity and individual personality has only this as its opposite: not living at all, spending life as a Hollow Man, or a Company Man, but certainly not as a man. I realize it’s nearly impossible for a person to know his path with any certainty, but as I look back at my teenage years, Tolkien taught me ethics and morality, Bradbury taught me community and unlimited possibilities of imagination, but Peart taught me individual self-worth and dignity.

A sample of his lyrics that gave me hope and strength:

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
 / Opinions all provided 
/ The future pre-decided
 / Detached and subdivided /
 In the mass production zone
 / Nowhere is the dreamer / 
Or the misfit so alone
—from Signals, 1982

He’s not afraid of your judgment 
/ He knows of horrors worse than your Hell /
 He’s a little bit afraid of dying
 / But he’s a lot more afraid of your lying
—from Signals 1982

Ragged lines of ragged grey Skeletons, they shuffle away / Shouting guards and smoking guns / Will cut down the unlucky ones / 
I clutch the wire fence / Until my fingers bleed / A wound that will not heal / A heart that cannot feel / Hoping that the horror will recede / Hoping that tomorrow / We’ll all be freed–from Grace Under Pressure 1984

I also know I’m not alone. The number of men (and some women) my age, or within a decade on either side, influenced by Rush is too numerous to count, frankly. It would be no exaggeration to claim that Neil Peart influenced, inspired, and shaped an entire generation of conservatives and libertarians. For what it’s worth, it’s only fair to note that Peart tends to identify conservatism with control and hypocrisy, and he would probably be far more comfortable with those who found some form of libertarianism, broadly understood, from his lyrics than with some form of conservatism. My friend, economist and social critic Steve Horwitz has argued quite convincingly that while Peart’s lyrics lend themselves toward libertarianism, they most readily identify with a form of individualism [see Horwitz’s excellent chapter in Rush and Philosophy (2011)]. I would take this only one step farther and claim that Peart’s individualism is the individualism of the Stoics of the pre-Christian world. He seems to present a nearly perfect form of classical Stoicism in the 1979 epic, “Natural Science.” Regardless of what cultural, economic, or political persuasion we many “Rushians” (I’m making this term up) might individually embrace, many in my generation are, in some very important sense, Peart’s younger brothers.

Not surprisingly, Peart is also a well-published author, and I have had the opportunity to read three of Peart’s five books—Ghost Rider, Traveling Music, and Roadshow. In each, Peart proved himself not only an excellent writer (imagine Willa Cather and Jack Kerouac as one person; a bizarre combination, I know, but accurate, I think), but he has also established himself as a serious and stoic social and cultural critic. Here are two sample passages from Ghost Rider, a travelogue of Peart riding around North America on his motorcycle, coming to terms with the untimely deaths of his daughter and wife:

The first day in Mexico was Selena’s birthday, and I had made careful plans on how to ‘memorialize’ that day. Early in the morning, I walked to the big cathedral in the Zocalo, went inside and bought two princess-sized votive candles (the biggest they had, of course) and lit them in front of the chapel for ‘Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe’ . . . . I sat there awhile, and cried some (well, a lot), amid the pious old ladies, tourists, and construction workers. [Peart, Ghost Rider, 310]

I once defined the basic nature of art as ‘the telling of stories,’ and never had I felt that to be more true. I played the anger, the frustration, the sorrow, and even the travelling parts of my story, the rhythms of the highway, the majesty of the scenery, the dynamic rising and falling of my moods, and the narrative suite that emerged was as cleansing and energizing as the sweat and exertion of telling it [Peart, Ghost Rider, pg. 355]

As someone who has lost a child, I can sympathize with almost every word of Peart’s thoughts on his journey. In fact, his journey dramatically shaped my own after the loss of our Cecilia Rose. I even sent Peart a letter and a book explaining all of this to him, and he kindly replied with a brief thank you. It’s a “thank you” I have framed and will always cherish. Thank YOU, Mr. Peart.

The Last Decade

Complex and dark, the music and lyrics of the last two Rush CDs readily capture the imagination. The instrumental on “Snakes and Arrows,” “The Main Monkey Business,” is probably the best instrumental Rush has recorded, and the music, as progressive as anything since “Permanent Waves” (1979) and “Moving Pictures” (1981), has varied time signatures and intricate instrumentation. Even my kids love Rush (not that they have much choice, given the prevalence of Rush cds and dvds playing in the house; and they can name the members of Rush, the CDs, the concerts), and they especially love “The Main Monkey Business,” which they often hum and talk about, even when the music isn’t playing.

But, overall, songs such as “Peaceable Kingdom,” “Earthshine,” “Freeze,” “Spindrift,” “The Way the Wind Blows,” and “Good News First” stand up as some of the best songs Rush has written in their nearly 35-year career. The three members of Rush are so professional, it’s simply a joy to watch them work on the live DVDs. The concert videos and dvd shorts in “Snakes and Arrows Live” and in “Time Machine” are hilarious as well, as Geddy (the bass player and singer) and Alex (the guitarist) have more than a little Monty Python in them. Absolute professionals, they know when to laugh at themselves—a sign of humility and intelligence, to be sure. Rush is, from what I can tell, exactly what they present themselves to be. There is no “show,” no deceptive presentation. “Perhaps the key to any great performance is just that quality: sincerity,” Peart wrote in Traveling Music.

Of course, many singers become phenomenally successful without that magic ingredient. A golden voice and good looks will often appeal, even when it’s obvious to a caring listener that when that singer delivers that song, he or she (read ‘diva’) doesn’t mean a word of it. You’d think that difference would be apparent to the listener, but I guess that is the clearest difference between art and entertainment. If people only want to be diverted and distracted, rather than moved or inspired, then fakery will do just as well as the real thing. To the indiscriminate, or uncaring, listener, it just doesn’t matter. Sometimes I have to face the reality that music can be part of people’s lives, like wallpaper, without being the white-hot center of their lives, as it always seemed to be for me. [Peart, Traveling Music, 26-27].

Today

Today is an incredibly exciting day for Rush fanatics. As mentioned above, the band releases its twentieth studio album, “Clockwork Angels.” As fortune (and a bit of enthusiasm, luck, and pluck) would have it, I received my copy on Saturday as a part of a “fan pack” put together in England. I’ve been immersing myself in the “Steampunk” world of “Clockwork Angels” for the past 55 hours or so. In every way, I love it. The typical Rush/Neil Peart themes are all here: free will and predestination; the individual against society; the quest for excellence; the journey and its destination; the encounter with the odd and the normal. This time out, a bit atypically, there are a number of studio effects, walls of sound, and Middle-eastern and Russian sounding instruments. The always interesting time signature changes, astounding proficiency with rock instruments (guitar, bass, and drums), etc., every Rush fan expects is here as well.

Most interesting is the confidence this band has—in itself, in its three members, and in its presentation—on this twentieth studio album. This is not an old band simply trying to rake in the cash from its loyal followers and put out “yet another album.” This is something quite different, and, yet, it remains true to the very meaning of excellence that Rush has always proclaimed and always lived. It is a rock band progressing to their absolute best. Though Rush has often embraced huge themes and stories, sometimes over several albums, this is the first time the band has attempted a full concept. The story, nearly sixty-seven minutes long, follows the journey of a young man finding his own voice in a society ruled by indeterminate god-like fates (the Watchmaker and the Clockwork Angels), a rule-based conformity but peopled by a number of eccentric persons and subcultures.

Peart set the concept (and, do not be fooled by the innumerable reviewers claiming the “concept is only incidental”; it’s absolutely essential to the music; central to the very album’s existence) in a world that developed rather differently than ours. In the so-called “Steam punk” world of “Clockwork Angels,” a very Calvinistic set of gods attempt to control all through mechanized precision, while alchemy, rather than science, has progressed. The album is divided into twelve songs, each represented by an alchemic symbol positioned at each hour of a twelve-hour clock.

What is especially fascinating is that Rush—in music and lyrics—has with “Clockwork Angels” created an all-embracing mythos, referencing their own works and music going back to the band’s very first album. There are hints, some overt and some not, from albums across the past four decades, and the protagonist must—as with Aeneas and a number of other classical heroes—experience, survive, and outwit the gods. In “Clockwork Angels,” though, the hero realizes one very vital thing: the divine will always control time. The gods might not control our individual fates—despite what the priests and politician tells us—but, in the end, Chronos devours all. But, within that given time in the world, man can do many things, and he can even dream and pursue the highest of all things. Peart ends the album with a very republican sentiment. Though men may wrangle about philosophy, the hero realizes “we must tend our own garden.”

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect 
so hard to earn, so easily burned. 
In the fullness of time
 A garden to nurture and protect . . . .
The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect
 The way you live, the gifts you give.

[N.B. While The Imaginative Conservative doesn’t normally review rock albums, The Imaginative Conservative isn’t quite normal. I’ve been a lover of progressive rock for as long as I can remember. I was born in 1967, and I first encountered progressive rock in 1971 or 1972—much played in my house. Winston, who is not a progressive rock fan outside of the folk prog of Al Stewart, has graciously allowed me to write on the subject here at The Imaginative Conservative. For introductions to progressive rock, if you’re interested in the genre but unfamiliar with it, I’ve tried my best to explain its significance to a Catholic audience at Ignatius Insight and to a conservative/libertarian/non-political and non-ideological audience at NRO.—Brad]

Books on the topic discussed in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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43 replies to this post
  1. Great piece (I enjoyed the recent NRO piece as well)! I've been a Rush fan since 1980 myself and have been reimmersed deeply in them the past couple years as I've struggled with health concerns–as well as the joy of introducing my 19-year-old son to their work. (I'm a 45-year-old woman and it's been interesting to see where our tastes/interests converge and where they diverge.) We've both been "mainlining" CA since the fanpack arrived yesterday afternoon. Rush on, friend!

  2. I'm listening to Clockwork Angels as I read this review. Right off the bat, I'm focusing on the music, and it's as good as anything they've done since Power Windows. I'll delve into the lyrics later. Rush is the model for every rock band out there on how to age gracefully, never stagnate, and stay true to your vision.

    Brad, thank you for sharing the personal story of how Rush has impacted you, and how their music is still a vital force today.

  3. Dear Penny, what a beautiful and meaningful post. I'll be 45 in three months. Where we're you when I was suffering through junior high? I have the feeling we would've hung together tight. I'll be eager to hear your thought on the new album, and prayers and good wishes for your health. Please comment when you have time. Glad to have you at TIC.

    That is we're in the first question.

  4. Thanks for the intelligent article. One thing that struck me with the lyrics of this album is that even as Neil Peart has become more overt in his criticisms of religion over the past 2 albums, the story ends with what appear to be some very religious themes.

    Wish Them Well is a call to put aside one's feelings of anger, envy, and judgment. The Garden is a call to make love and respect (both giving it and seeking it)the greatest priority in life. Those are ideas that almost every religion would claim as their own.

    • They are not religious themes at all; they are humanist themes. The last thing religion does is ‘Wish them well’. Religion, by its very nature, is about separation and differentiation, not about making love and respect the greatest priority in life… sad to say.

  5. I've been a fan since 74, born in 66. I agree with everything you wrote. I love the fact that they continue to evolve, they seem to be getting better, Rush are never boring, so many layers on that onion!

  6. Any comments of the influence of Ayn Rand on Neil Peart's lyrics? And did you see him on Letterman's Drummer Week?
    Also, reading this I can't help but be a little embarrassed. Yes is my favorite band of all time. I think they gave birth to Rush. But they could learn a few things from Rush when it comes to staying together! *sigh*

  7. Dr. Birzer and I have much in common. My high school friends were wild about Rush, esp. my drummer friend, and I have been an off and on fan (I found Peart's thoughtful lyrics more libertarian than conservative). I saw the Time Machine concert on Palladia last week. I grew up in South Bend, graduated with a BA in English from Hillsdale in the late 80s, got my MA in English from Indiana in the early 90s. That last book I read was The Narnian by Alan Jacobs. I read almost all of Kirk's work and met him one weekend at Piety Hill. I hope someday to communicate with Dr. Birzer and prove to him that, despite disagreements with Kirk, I am still "worthy of the human race."

  8. Rock, I was struck by all of the same things. When I first heard Carvan and BU2B, I thought another anti-Judeo-Christian statement. But, in the context of the concept, religion is not necessarily the bad guy, and love conquers all!

  9. I love yes as well, Brian! I'm not sure they've been great since DRAMA, but I still love them. But, I'm glad we're beyond the "purple wolfhound" days. Ha. Peart talked about his former Randianism at Rolling Stone yesterday. He says he gave it up 40 years ago. Interesting interview. Didn't see the Letterman, sadly.

  10. Brian, here's the link:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/q-a-neil-peart-on-rushs-new-lp-and-being-a-bleeding-heart-libertarian-20120612

    And, his comments on Rand:
    Q. This is somewhat random, but you were interested in the writings of Ayn Rand decades ago. Do her words still speak to you?
    A. Oh, no. That was 40 years ago. But it was important to me at the time in a transition of finding myself and having faith that what I believed was worthwhile. I had come up with that moral attitude about music, and then in my late teens I moved to England to seek fame and fortune and all that, and I was kind of stunned by the cynicism and the factory-like atmosphere of the music world over there, and it shook me. I'm thinking, "Am I wrong? Am I stupid and naïve? This is the way that everybody does everything and, had I better get with the program?"

    For me, it was an affirmation that it's all right to totally believe in something and live for it and not compromise. It was a simple as that. On that 2112 album, again, I was in my early twenties. I was a kid. Now I call myself a bleeding heart libertarian. Because I do believe in the principles of Libertarianism as an ideal – because I'm an idealist. Paul Theroux's definition of a cynic is a disappointed idealist. So as you go through past your twenties, your idealism is going to be disappointed many many times. And so, I've brought my view and also – I've just realized this – Libertarianism as I understood it was very good and pure and we're all going to be successful and generous to the less fortunate and it was, to me, not dark or cynical. But then I soon saw, of course, the way that it gets twisted by the flaws of humanity. And that's when I evolve now into . . . a bleeding heart Libertarian. That'll do.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/q-a-neil-peart-on-rushs-new-lp-and-being-a-bleeding-heart-libertarian-20120612#ixzz1xoWC0wgL

  11. Wow Brad, this was a very enlightening article. I have been a fan of Rush since 1976, I saw them in concert for the first time in 1977 on the All The World's A Stage tour. Rush has been a very big influence on my life as a musician and as a person ever since. Thanks for this very cool prespective of this great and unique band. I will be at the September 18th concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills with my 15 and 18 year old sons. They love Rush almost as much as I do. God Bless.

  12. I've never read a review of Rush that completlely parallels my own experience (Facebook: Tommy Bryan Boyer). I was also born in 1967, GUP is one of my faves, though rock purist kinda rejected it as New Wave, I still listen to it, including the under-rated, brilliant Presto and Roll the Bones. My first exposure was a cassette of Moving Pictures and it as you said informed my taste in Music (Sincerity, Integrity, Intelligence! What a concept!lol..) and with complete sincerity and no explanation necessary Rushed save my life as well.
    Thanks for the best review of Rush and Clockwork Angels I've read ever. Best Rush album in ages.

  13. Though I can claim no life changing experience, I can remember first getting into Rush hearing "Closer to the Heart" on the radio. In my first car "Permanent Waves" was on the 8 track all the time, and that's when I noticed I liked Rush a lot more than most of the rest of my high school friends. At college, I found other Rush fans and we saw them on the "Moving Pictures" tour. Over the years since I have found myself appreciating Rush more with each succeeding release. Now I listen to "The Garden" and I feel as if Neil Peart is speaking directly to me, as ludicrous as that sounds. That is why I loved this review!

  14. Great article. I am "only" 41 but I remember my dad bringing home GUP for me on the day it came out. I first discovered Rush on MTV with their Exit Stage Left videos. Then I heard my friend's older brother's Moving Pics LP and I was hooked. I traded Styx-Cornerstone for Signals when it came out in 7th grade (I thought it was mine. Dad disagreed) and I literally wore that tape out. Subdivisions is still my favorite song.

    I totally agree with you about Rush being a life changer. Even my parents acknowledge that Rush helped raise me to be who I am today. During those formative years, when natural rebellion starts to kick in, it was great to have someone other than parents, teachers and clergy telling me how to behave. Rush preached honesty, individual self worth, and courage to stand up for what is right. They let me know that it was cool to be uncool. Those were great and timely lessons. Even at age 12, I was more comfortable than most in my own pimply skin and began to understand the value of being measured by my own standards rather than that of others. More 12 year olds could have used that message. Rush's intricate and interesting music also reflected a dedication to craft and inspired focus. These also turned out to be life tools worth cultivating.

    I think the guys in Rush humbly pretend not to notice the effect they have had on decades of Rushians, not only in entertaining them, but molding them. Non-Rushians may scoff, but those of us who know, know. It is great to see Rush finally getting some critical acclaim – even from Rolling Stone!

    As for Clockwork Angels, it is a masterpiece. If this is their last work, it is a perfect ending. If not, then hooray. Regardless, this CD leaves me feeling that Rush has ultimately embraced being uncool – reaffirming and making me proud to have stuck with them all these years. The audacity to release a full length concept album in this day and age is astounding. What is more astounding is that it works so well. There is a confident energy that is so refreshing – they sound like they are as comfortable as they can be in their own 60 year old, and, I guess, not so pimply skin. It makes me smile that they still ROCK so well.

    As for the story in this "science fiction" – I can't help but see Neil's life in these events. The excitement of leaving the farm (equipment business) to join the circus and see the world (aka rock and roll musician) to the finding of love and losing it all (Carnies and the Anarchist blowing up everything) to the search for the 7 Cities of Gold and never finding them (Ghost Rider) returning to reality and the realization that you are the lone survivor (Wreckers/BU2B2) and finally reflecting (Headlong Flight) and coming to terms with a life well lived (Wish Them Well and Garden). The story speaks to me in those terms. It is thought provoking and emotional. At least that is how I see it.

  15. Rob, I'm scrambling to get a paper/presentation done for tomorrow–so my apologies for the brevity of this reply. But, please know that I couldn't agree with you more, and I'm really honored you took the time to write all of this out. You should post this (beyond just the comments section). And, I've wondered about the shyness on their part. They seemed genuinely shocked by the praise they received in BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE. Maybe they really have no idea what they've done. Amazing.

  16. Nope, Neil speaks directly to me too! Love it. As to Moving Pictures–I found a review of the album in the Notre Dame student newspaper. I need to transcribe it. Thanks Yo11Yo. Appreciate the comments.

  17. Hi yo11yo and Brad,
    Brad, fantastic review, funny you mentioned the RS interview, I believe it was that same interview Neil spoke about his recent realization in his lyrics of taking universal themes and making them personal. I've always felt his lyrics and books, speak directly to me. I think the lryics from Signals and GUP used in your review are perfect examples of Neil's ability to draw the listener/reader in and reach them in a personal, thought provoking manner. Thanks again, John

  18. Well if they ever get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Shame, we should have a Million Man Rush to Cleveland to show the band, RRHF, and the World what the band really means to people. And yes Rob, there are too many coincidences in this album, including the 2112 clock hands/Neil's birth date 9/12, to discount your exact thoughts. So right on in your comments! Hopefully this isn't a true ending of one of the greatest bands ever.

  19. Grace Under Pressure is my favorite Rush album, followed by Permanent Waves. Back to Yes for a moment.Since Drama, I find both The Ladder and Magnification to both be excellent. The Ladder has some of Jon Anderson's most intimate songwriting. Magnification, sans keyboards but with an orchestra, is a strong progressive sound.

    But as this is a Rush article, and since one good link returns another, here's a link to Peart on Letterman:
    http://youtu.be/cHRzJroQ9wc

  20. Thanks, John. I agree completely. And, I really do think Peart took his lyric writing to a whole new level with Clockwork Angels–he really took them into the level of myth.

  21. Thanks, Brian. Agreed–Magnification and The Ladder both have some great stuff. It's hard for me to get enough of the first two tracks on Magnification, especially the transition from track one to track two. Thanks for the Letterman link. I hadn't seen this yet.

  22. Brad – Thank you for writing this piece. I'm 48 and I've seen RUSH five or six times. I've often called RUSH (or Peart) the Shakespeare of Rock. I've written extensively about RUSH on my various blogs down through the years and this reminds me that I need to do it again. Perhaps, I will review Clockwork Angels.

    We need to do more of what you've done here. You know the mythologoy: conservatives are a bunch of prudes and don't understand art/creativity.

    Over on Breitbart they do it some with Big Hollywood and it's done other places as well. But, this (art and entertainment) is and area that is ripe for reclaiming for conservatives.

    Regarding Freewill and Predestination: I agree with Peart! I'm a christian, not a calvinist (I will not debate the topic here it is agonizing!). But, I'm writing a heroic fantasy fiction saga (which I attribute much of the inspiration to guys like Peart, Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and David Gemmell)One of the central themes is Freewill and Predestination. It's not didactic, it's a story.

    Lastly, while I think we need to do what you have done, that is delve into conservative ideas via rock, movies, books etc. I think we need to do a better job of critiquing those same outlets and show how songs like John Lennon's "Imagine" sound like communist manifestos. While Peart/RUSH is a net gain for soceity, there are too many artist dragging us into the gutter. I wish conservatives could make more movies, write more books and make more music. I'm thinking about becoming a member of Bill Whittle's Declaration Entertainment.

    Thanks again for the wonderful piece on one of favorite bands ever!

  23. Let me join the chorus cheering your review's praises. Thank you. Like you, Brad, my teenage and early college years were suffused with Rush. For whatever reason, however, I drifted away. I probably stopped listening to them when I became something of a nomad – enlisting in the Navy then living everywhere from AK to MA to CO to CA to WA. Now that I've landed in VA, experienced both great joy (joining the Catholic Church) and great tragedy (the death of my beloved fiancee), I've come back to Rush with their latest release – Clockwork Angels. It is the first CD I've bought in years, and first Rush CD I bought, I think, since Reagan was in the White House. I'm so glad I did. It is simply fantastic. Here's to being able to see them live. I've been watching the "Time Machine" concert when it air on a certain music cable station in C'ville. I'm sure the "Clockwork Angels" tour will rival that show for spectacle and musical genius.

    God bless the band and the fans of Rush.

  24. A very intelligent article. Not only in the USA or UK Rush is very popular, also in Germany and Holland. We'll see them again, next year and hopefully for many years. Henk (47), Rotterdam, The Netherlands

  25. Excellent piece, very thoughtful. Born in '62 and a fan since '74. Listening to "Working Man" coming home on the bus. Life changing is also a phrase that I would use. Music and lyrics are inspirational, introspective, and intelligent. Just got back from opening night of C.A. tour in New Hampshire with my 19 year old son. This group of professionals never disappoint. At this point in their career, they remain dedicated and focused. They are not dwelling on the past or resting on their laurels. They seem to really appreciate their fan base and seem compelled to deliver a GREAT performance each night! The 2nd half of the event showcased 9 of 12 songs from Clockwork Angels. All performed to perfection. I pinched my son to exclaim and remind him "They are performing this Live!". I appreciate the members as individuals and the group as well. "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts!" Thanks, Gary (Fan for Life).

  26. Daniel Leroux 2112-11-02 Québec, Canada

    I everybody!
    I'm listening Rush still I was a teenager (the middle of 1980)I was initiated to them by the "All the World’s a Stage- Live Album 1976". Because my first language are "French" and because I was a teenager, my approach of this band was musically first. I was, and today again, so flabbergasted by the quality of her music, how creative, how virtuoso all of them are in there own instruments and how emotional their music was, and it's again the same performance musicaly today after 40 years. God, they don't have thirty years since long and they always innovate in each new album, and they still doing worldwide tour. I just look at this part of there job (to do a show in a town a day, and another one few days later; and that, for months, SINCE 40 YEARS!!!! How can they do to not get burn) I never see stagnation with them and they proved it again last october when they come at Montreal for them "Clockwork Angels Tour": the show was just unbelivable and I can say that this band had been hable to create a bridge in between generations, but also in between the language: I heared there even was french persons then anglish person, why? because the way they create emotion with there music, and the way they tell them science fiction stories meet all person who believe in great highly human values. I'm reading the intire book of Neil Peart, the first anglish book of my entire life. And i'm proud of it. For me, they deserve it from their "french" fan: Understanding the music, but also what they tell. I just hope they will work again on a last album before their retirement. Please demonstrate a understanding spirit about my non fluently anglish.

  27. Brad, thanks for the great insight on Rush! Although being Brazilian, I can say that your description of early ages match perfectly with mine! And Rush's been there for me, their albums are the soundtrack of my life! Keep up the good work! (Please visit my Soundcloud link, since I believe you will love my music as well…)

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