R.I.P. Neil Peart: “Your favorite drummer’s favorite drummer”

by Joey deVilla on January 10, 2020

Creative Commons photo by ArtBrom. Tap to see the source.

As a musician, a Canadian, a Torontonian, and someone who’s seen him live a half-dozen times over the years, it is with sadness that I have to report that Rush’s Neil Peart — not just “Your favorite drummer’s favorite drummer” but also the band’s lyricist — passed away on Tuesday in Santa Monica, California at the age of 67. The news has been out for less than an hour at the time of this writing.

Let’s all toss a drumstick in the air and catch it to honor his memory — then play some Rush at full blast. Here are some suggested tracks…

YYZ

Taking its name from the airport code for their hometown, this track features the drum solo that even the most casual Rush fan knows about. This is taken from a concert in 1988, the era of the Hold Your Fire album:

La Villa Strangiato

Can Rush write a song so complex that even they couldn’t record it in one take? Yes, and it’s this one, which goes beyond zigging and zagging and straight into dimension-hopping. They ended up recording it in sections and piecing it together in post.

Songs to play “Dungeons and Dragons” by: By-Tor and the Snowdog / 2112

And not this 5th edition junk — we’re talkin’ old school, TSR, Gary Gygax, Tomb of Horrors-era D&D.

Passage to Bangkok

Every Canadian rock fan remembers that tender teen moment when they realized that this song was about drugs. Kudos to Neil for writing very good stoner lyrics and referencing E.M. Forster!

In the Mood

Neil! Cowbell! Their only “Hey, baby!” song! ”Nuff said.

Tom Sawyer

Even if you strip away Geddy’s opening synth line and Alex’s opening chord, leaving Neil’s drumming as the only thing, you’d still recognize this song. And let’s not forget those lyrics:

No, his mind is not for rent
To any god or government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is
And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the witness
Catch the wit
Catch the spirit
Catch the spit

Subdivisions

One of my favorites. From their synthy era, this song features some of Neil’s best and most accessible lyrics.

Spirit of Radio

One of the best observations of modern music:

All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open-hearted
Not so coldly charted
It’s really just a question of your honesty
Yeah, your honesty
One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes
And endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity, yeah

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