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I know it is a somewhat misleading title.  This is more of a commemoration of one of my fallen music heroes: Neil Peart.  He died of cancer yesterday.


I was a drummer in high school when Rush was hitting their prime, and it was Neil Peart that just about every drummer out there looked up to.  If you were into rock music, the serious people were listening to Rush.  Even through the 1980s, with hair metal, New Wave, and all the trends, it was still Rush that carried the banner.  Their music transcended fickle trends.  And behind it all, it was the poetry of Neil Peart.


I've always had, and still have, five cornerstones of my musical tastes: Kansas, Genesis, ELP, Yes, and Rush.  Of the five, there were two who were lyrically above the rest.  Kansas, driven by Kerry Livgren, always had lyrics that could be moving and profound.  Kerry was always searching, looking for something in his youth, eventually finding Christ not long after the release of Leftoverture.  You could hear it in his song, "Carry On my Wayward Son," which was a song about searching and finding, and moving on.


The second was Rush.  Neil's lyrics could be silly ("Anagram for Mongo"), or profound ("A Farewell to Kings"), but they were never trite or banal.  He was always saying something.  His words always made you think.  I don't think he shared my beliefs, but I do know that whatever he wrote for Geddy always gave me pause for introspection, and sometimes even made me look twice at something else.  And in that way, he is as much an influence on my writing as anyone else.


And now he's gone.


We Christians cling to being born again in the Word, and in many ways I was.  What we often overlook is how our faith based in Reason - there are solid, rational components to what we believe.  I may have been driven by faith, and pulled by God to my fate (often times, reluctantly), but I could look back retrospectively and see the purpose.  I took time to understand the turning of the gears, and the spinning wheels of why we believe what we believe.  And I can say this: I don't think it might have been that way if is wasn't for those musical influences.  Nor the writings of a rock drummer of a band, a trio of self-described geeks and nerds.


I think if there was a turning point in my life when it came to writing, it was two songs out of the Signals album.  The first was "The Analog Kid," about a young boy who lost himself in heady dreams of Science Fiction and Fantasy literature ("Analog" was the name of a short-story magazine in the genera).  The second, and most profound, was "Losing It."  Two small tales of people who were once at the top of their game, and now were sliding into obscurity.  The one about the writer still chokes me up a bit, as the lyrics tell how he stares at the empty page in anger and frustration.  As he remembers how quick, and fluid the words flowed from him.  And now...it's all gone.


It may have been the chorus that really brought home what Neil was trying to say.  That some were born to be great in what they do, and others not.  How sad it was to have that light burn out.  It was, and still is, a heart-wrenching mix of words and music that I can still recall to this very day - it never left me.  Something in that song drove me to take what God had given me, and make wonderful things from it.  I don't consider myself "great" in any sense, but I look back in satisfied awe that I was able to do some of the things I've done.  I've tried to live my life as if the great, unspoken sin is to leave what God has given you to rot.  Unused, and neglected.  If there is greatness, it flows through us, and not from us.  All we need do is not stand in the way.  Call that what you will.


For you the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee.


Here is a cover done of that song.  The only Rush song that I know of where they brought in a violin.  It chokes me up everything I listen to it.




I guess I should be glad that Neil's light never dimmed to nothing.  It was only a year or two ago that he quit Rush (and now, I guess, we know why)  Still, it is an end of an era.  An era I'll probably never see again in my lifetime.


I have other groups I listen to, and other people who write songs: Glass Hammer, Spock's Bears, Neil Morse.  But even they'll tell you: there was only one Neil Peart.  Just as there was only one Rush.


And irony of ironies: the next Glass Hammer album is done in a way to honor the profound influence of Rush.


I could probably sit here and nit-pick my writing on this post for the next hour, changing this for that.  I guess in the vein of what I just wrote, I should probably get back to work.  But I thought I'd take time to pour this out on a page - call it an eulogy, if you'd like.  It is what it is.

Edited by Jeff Potts
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That goes to show, God works all things for our good. 😊 

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