Monday, September 19, 2011

By Hatchet, Axe and Saw

I stayed up too late the other night to watch the Rush documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage again. I think I mentioned the awesomeness of this film before, but in case you haven’t seen it, check VH1 Classic’s schedule every now and then as it’s on constant rotation there.

For as many times as I’ve seen it, I should probably go out and get an actual copy for myself. But like cd’s, I’ve slowed down my physical purchases with dvds, mainly because it doesn’t make much sense to overload our suburban abode with a bunch of physical media that will all one day be available digitally and then store in some other digital cloud that never needs dusting.

There’s one moment in the movie where Billy Corgan speaks to the band’s importance to him while growing up. At one point, Corgan describes asking his mother to come into his room so that he can play a Rush song to her.

The song-which I’ve forgotten now and am too lazy to look up at the moment-resonates within him, and he finds the theme to the song so important that he wants her to hear it.
I’m sure how she interpreted it was different than his intention. I know this because I’ve lost count at trying to turn on my parents to some personal song only to see them fail to understand the significance to what the song means to me.

And I’m certain that my own kids will try to do the same and I’m sure that I too will fail to find the significance in how they relate to it.

But I won’t stop in trying, and I will never begin to simply discount what kind of impact a song may have on them. I’m interested in the emotional connection that songs have in people and that’s the reason why today I continue to obsess over such things.
There are songs in which we like because they sound good and there are songs that we like because they complete an emotional synapse, keeping it fresh for as long as we are able to retrieve that memory.

At one point, when I began to notice my parent’s immediate reaction towards a piece of music that they didn’t appreciate, I simply stopped trying to get them to identify with a band or a song.

For my mom, it was during my Doors phase. I was playing Waiting For The Sun and she told me to “turn off this crap” when “My Wild Love” was playing.
My dad actually stood up for me on that one.

But he had difficulties too, and that became all too apparent when he and I along with my girlfriend at the time went out of town shopping. On the way home, I played Raising Hell but Run-DMC after purchasing the cassette. I thought that maybe the Run-DMC/Aerosmith collaboration of “Walk This Way” would get him to better appreciate rap as an art form.

It didn’t work.

My father had also purchased a cassette that day, John Fogerty’s Centerfield.
Guess which tape my girlfriend and I had to endure the rest of the way home?

To this day, I can’t stand that album-mainly for that piece of shit song “I Saw It On TV,” the one where Forgerty goes through a completely nostalgic list of Baby Boomer events- ala “We Didn’t Start The Fire”- to which my father would give bits of commentary over the historical imagery.

There was one time when I was either in middle school or just starting my freshman year of high school that my father knocked on my bedroom door and wanted to ask me a music related question.

Let me just say now that at this moment, I felt on top of the world. My father was coming to me for a musical question, thereby acknowledging that I was somewhat of an “expert” on the subject.

I was more than happy to oblige.

“Do you listen to the band Rush?” he asked.


What music-loving 8th grade boy didn’t listen to Rush!

“What’s the name of the song that they do that is about racism?”

Of course, the song he was referring to was “The Trees” and I immediately went to my copy of Exit…Stage Left to give him a sample.

He went on to explain that the subject of racism was being discussed in his American history class and that a couple of students had brought up the song.

“Can you make me a copy of it?” he asked.

I probably had the thing done in a few hours-including a bunch of other Rush tracks in case dad became enchanted with the Canadian power trio.

After all, he was a big fan of Cream.

A week later, I couldn’t resist.

“What did you think of that Rush song I taped for you?” I asked him.
“I haven’t listened to it yet.” He admitted after a quick pause to reflect on the question. “I think it’s still in my briefcase somewhere.”

It became clear that there was no real intention of him actually listening to it and that it probably wouldn’t enter his curriculum either.

He’d become too attached to the familiar, resistant to anything new-particularly to anything discovered by a teenager.

My commitment today is to at least listen to what my kids present to me. It’s a microscope to what they may be feeling inside, and as we should already know-teenagers aren’t the most open of specimens when it comes to matters of the heart.


Kiko Jones said...

Wow, I never got the racism angle. I always thought "The Trees" was an Ayn Rand-inspired commentary on socialism/communism and/or the persecution of individuality, blah blah blah. (Ugh, Neil Peart so many of your lyrics are just insufferable.)

Neil Peart said...

You're both wrong. It was just a flash. I was working on an entirely different thing when I saw a cartoon picture of these trees carrying on like fools. I thought, "What if trees acted like people?" So I saw it as a cartoon really, and wrote it that way. I think that's the image that it conjures up to a listener or a reader. A very simple statement. Too bad both of you dorks couldn't figure it out!

Anonymous said...

neil, can you stop with the beebop portion of your drum solos? If we want to hear Krupa over you, we wouldn't be there.