Have you ever heard a song or album and the weather seemed such an integral part of the experience – so much so, that every time the weather conditions are right you still remember that song or album? Well it’s happened to me. Repeatedly.
Today, it’s “raining cats and dogs” and I spent a fair amount of time on the road looking from some rainy day photo ops. It was raining so hard it was keeping time with Led Zeppelin’s song “Bonzo’s Montreax” (from the CODA album) which was playing in my car. But this is not about that song.
During my drive I realized it was exactly a day like today when I purchased my very first RUSH album, A FAREWELL TO KINGS (on cassette and vinyl). The album was released September 1st, 1977. I was 17 and only had a drivers permit. I was only working on the family farm and had saved my allowance for this purpose. I got to the car and greedily unwrapped the cassette to play in the car. The weather was dark and cloudy not unlike the cover art with the post apocalyptic setting – the landscape crumbled and the crown of the king lying on the ground. The king plopped down on the throne like a puppet whose puppeteer had fled or a jester frozen in time – the joke had been played once to often. I popped the cassette in the player and it started to rain. I took the scenic route home through the countryside past hill and dale, field and farm listening in amazement and feeling transfixed as “Xanadu” blasted from the car speakers. by time “a thousand years had come and gone…” I was completely enthralled, mesmerized in my rainy day drive. I got home during “Cinderella Man” and felt lost in the myth, the poetry and story telling. I continued to just sit in the car and listened thru to Cygnus X-1 (Book One) as the rain continued to beat on the car roof. Wipers off I mused and wondered if Cygnus X-1 would have a Book 2 in this musical adventure. The transformation was complete I was a RUSH fan. For years to come A FAREWELL TO KINGS, HEMISPHERES, PERMANENT WAVES and MOVING PICTURES would be my favorite RUSH albums. I would listen to them frequently.
Well with Todays rain it was time to revisit the memory and the feeling of that first listen. And though I am older I find it still extremely enjoyable and satisfying. It’s just one of those things. 🙂
Before I was able to buy my own music my early youth was spent listening to FM radio. Growing up in Northeast Ohio that meant listening a lot to WMMS which was out of Cleveland, Ohio. And as any listener of that radio station knows – you became familiar with RUSH very fast. The station and region was largely responsible for the breakthrough of Rush (a Canadian band) onto the US music scene. They not only would play the full epic songs of a Rush song but also entire album sides.
Neil was the long-time drummer and primary lyricist for the band. He was responsible for the epic multi-part songs that had lyrics with a science-fiction, magical, and/or philosophical viewpoint. He was responsible for introducing me to the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. Although I had been listening to RUSH for years on the radio the first Rush album I was able to buy for myself was A FAREWELL TO KINGS. I remember that I skipped school to go the store and purchase the record the day it was released in September 1977. It felt like holding a bar of warm pure gold.
Rush had several members since they formed in 1969 but solidified into the trio we have all come to know and love when Neil joined the group in 1974. The lineup would remain intact from the 2nd album, 1975’s FLY BY NIGHT, through 2012’s CLOCKWORK ANGELS.
Here are 5 tracks:
The title track from the first album FLY BY NIGHT which marked a distinct departure from Rushes eponymous first album and and showed Neils significant influence.
A favorite track from the first Rush album that I purchased with my own allowance. I still ask myself some of the questions in this song.
Here is the most popular song from A FAREWELL TO KINGS. A beautiful ballad.
And a popular favorite from MOVING PICTURES often considered Rush’s best album.
This final track is THE GARDEN from the final studio album CLOCKWORK ANGELS. As one commenter noted, “This how to end a legacy. Not with a bombastic exit, but with a tear-jerking melody”. And like the song says, “The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect”.
Thank you Neil for all the great music that inspired the thinking and ideas in my early years. Rest In Peace.