RUSH-ing to the River

RUSH-ing to the River . . .

A fraction of Neil Peart’s philosophical artistic output
(NYC 01 10 2020)

(for Neil E. Peart, 09 12 1952 – 01 07 2020)
My fly fishing path has been often navigated by mountain bike. Ears free and open to the sounds of the way give my interior radio a  playlist, sometimes stuck on one incessant earworm, sometimes an album I have apparently memorized down to the mix, but always, either way, in music in mind rather than reflection or reminiscing thought.
The latter may best be for the page giving room to describe. Images, personifications,  full characters may dwell in music. There is the narrator of “2112” and the postcard report from “Xanadu.” Song sounds wave to me as I depart and welcome me at the end of an expedition. The tunes in between shift and lift my mood as needed.
Power and drive help me to pedal, later to cast. There are times when only the beat of my mental stereo can coerce the thighs to reach the smooth glide on the downward slope, or over the hump to the opposite bank. Such rhythms, internalized, get set in synch with the necessary speed and intensity of the physical motion, making a kind of yoga out of the outdoor sport. This is why I always have a little or a lot of RUSH.
For its combination of power, nuance, ad road-worthy imagery, I begin my day with the friendly voice of RUSH. This Canadian trio of rock remains relevant, having been the subject of several compelling documentaries over the last decade. And there is that little big thing of the band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
RUSH also resisted the sentimentality circuit by staying a recording and touring together outfit for 40 years plus one. Retired now, since late 2015, and now, we also now know why. Farewell to “The Professor” — lNeil Peart: percussionist, lyricist, cyclist, and philosophical traveloguer.
The outpouring publishing since his passing reveals how broad and deep the man’s audience is. The irony not stated thus far, though, may be this that I noticed — for such a private man, he did share a heaping helping of his life in hindsight. Deep details is words and still images and instructional videos. He in fact shared far more life story than his two bandmates. I find this amusing, and bet it might even be a kind of chuckle already shared in the private world of RUSH.
Fans, deep and frequent listeners like myself and several I know, can usually mention this band now without enduring the rolling eyes of opinionated cynics. There was a time during university in the 1980s when an individualist would squeeze Peart into an art party circle discussion extolling Morrissey, Dylan, Lou Reed, and Leonard Cohen. “Hey,” I would say, “Peart is Canadian like Cohen, too.” At least the Whitesnake fan gave an affirmative nod.
Legitimacy established by perseverance and the Change with a capital C upon which Neil Peart often ruminated, RUSH remain in radio rotation.

First paragraph reveals joy of opportunity for an author to in print shout out “sources” even those contemporaries of philosopher status.
Excerpt from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little
(NYC 01 2020)

My appreciation of RUSH is doubled because drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, the band’s primary engine and eyes, is an avid cyclist and speaks to those rhythms and BPMs. He began riding an “acoustic bike” between some cities during tours in the middle of the 1980s and explored China, South America, and West Africa off the road, literally.
Motorcycling and related writings then emerged as his passion after a period spent recovering from the trauma of losing his first wife and daughter within one year in the late 1990s.
When the band together again returned in 2002, “Ghost Rider” became my summer song, the song I would even attempt to sing as I road farther and farther to find fishable water.
That season was hot and a dry one, dust in the streets of Philadelphia, and New York, borne by winds of smoke from forest fires in . . .  Canada. Irony.
More simple, less worldly, then my main concern was how I felt unrequited love living in the townhouse next door and career stagnation in my day vocation. I escaped the workplace to write, or to fish, both often and hard, cycling twenty miles back and forth to smallmouth bass and brown trout rivers I could reach by bike from the city limits of Philadelphia.
“Sunrise in the mirror lightens that invisible load” . . . just like the song penned by Peart! My life at that time emulated musical art.
Reason(s) why? Peart can paint clean landscapes even in phrases of four words or less. Another lyrical talent is his use of strong nouns of place – “white sands / canyon lands / redwood stands / barren lands” – such images can alone describe an entire seasonal narrative along the water. Each works its way specifically because of the generality (the complex conveyed by the simple). Words of rock that speak to the full sensory experience in a manner still personal to an individual listener.
And that drumming! Percussion as complex as a Spey line with a wallet of tips, yet tempered as one switched to a steelhead, or tight to a smallmouth by 5-weight or tenkara rod; a stick, of sorts, not unlike that one for the drum.
Casting a line is rhythm after all, and Neil Peart composed “Mystic Rhythms” that continue to conjure moving pictures in the mind. That alone may explain why Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart make my day’s road music.

Fly Rider:
Excerpt from Philadelphia on the Fly
(NYC 01 2020)

Rock and Ride and Write in Peace, Neil Peart
— rPs 01 14 2020
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“The River” . . .

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