Hall Of Idols # 13: Neil Peart

Rush

Thirteenth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.

Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.

Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.

As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.

There was a time when Modern Drummer magazine decided that enough was enough and just laid down the law: “You can’t vote for him as best drummer of the year anymore. From now on he is hors concours.” Yep, that was Rush’s drummer Neil Peart.

Neil Ellwood Peart was born September 12, 1952 in Hamilton (ON), Canada. He actually started to seriously play the drums at a later age (he was already 14), but went on to become what many consider the best Rock drummer of all time.

If you have any doubts about Neil’s abilities you only need to compare the first Rush album (self-titled, with John Rutsey on drums) and the follow-up Fly By Night. It sounds like two completely different bands. Whereas the first one sound like a wannabe Led Zeppelin, the second already gives you hints of a band that would get into the Rock pantheon of immortals.

Neil Peart manages to do the impossible – and I’m not talking only about what he does in the songs. I’m talking about making a drum solo cool. If you go to Rush concert you actually want to hear the drum solo! That’s absolutely mind boggling! No other musician in Rock history manages to do that. No guitar players, bass players, keyboard players or drummers. None.

Actually, if I ruled the world I would forbid all Rock musicians to do any kind of solo at their shows, with the exception of Neil.

And as it happens with most people that are masters in their area he always thinks he can improve. Even after all the accolades, in the mid-nineties Neil felt his playing was suffering, so he went to study Jazz. That’s how driven this guy is.

Actually, talking about determination, Neil even manages to survive after being stricken by tragedy two times in less than a year. He lost his wife for cancer and his daughter to cancer in less than 12 months. But he managed to get back better and stronger than ever.

I remember when I was first getting into Rush that I thought Neil’s lyrics were a bit ridiculous. However, when I got older and managed to understand all the metaphors (okay, “The Trees” is still a bit corny, I give you that), literary references and vastness of vocabulary, I came to the conclusion that they not only aren’t ridiculous, they are brilliant. His ode against people who wanna be famous or wanna pretend they are friends of someone famous in “Limelight” or his portrait of bullying in the most poetic way in “Subdivisions” are just two great examples of his lyrical capacity.

Neil, you that once was one of the priests in the “Temples Of Syrinx”, please become a member of the Hall Of Idols.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart – Live In Amsterdam

The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

Rascall Flats – Still Feels Good

Susan Tedeschi – Hope & Desire

The Gaslight Anthem – B-Sides

Dream Theater – Dream Theater

Watching:

The Who – Sensation: The Story Of Tommy (DVD)

Thomas Jefferson – A Film By Ken Burns (DVD documentary)

Her – (movie)

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

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