My Apology to Alex Lifeson of RUSH… and Gratitude for a Great Gift!
Since I’m the beneficiary of a great kindness from Alex the time has come take responsibility and apologize for my musical absurdity!
Like many of the RUSH faithful in my age group (mid 40’s) it was Tom Sawyer that put the band in the forefront of our collective consciousness. I wasn’t even 12 but at that time it was Neil’s fills and complexity that caught my ear.
As I grew and consumed all the music that came before and after Moving Pictures I also set down my trumpet and picked up the bass. While there were many guitar idols to look to there were only a few on the Bass and Geddy was at the top of my list. Combine that with my two best friends playing drums and the result was focusing on those instruments and those two musicians.
They say that no person steps in the same river twice because both the person and the river are different. As RUSH and their fans have aged, the band has given us a lot more to think about. Lyrics that deal with the acquisition of wisdom and sifting through the challenges we now face or the baggage we carry. So the river has changed over the years.
I began to change as well, when I got to see the Snakes and Arrows tour in Philly with an old friend who is a huge RUSH fan and he said I should be paying more attention to the contribution made by Alex. He forced me to notice a guy who is a combination of Eric Clapton and Gandhi and who makes his contribution seem to effortlessly fit so appropriately into every composition for all these years.
Maybe it’s the Gandhi side that has him performing at such a high level and yet excluded from many “top guitarist” lists. There’s even a scene in Beyond the Lighted Stage where Alex and Geddy are in a diner and someone recognizes Geddy and misses Alex completely and both guys chuckle at the fan’s utter misstep.
After the Philly show in 2008 I went back and listened to the full library, laughing at the lunacy of my previous thirty years. How could I have missed this bastion of consistency and performance?! When a friend gave me Clockwork Angles for my 43rd birthday it struck me that this is one of their best albums ever and Alex was doing more than his 33.3%. It also struck me that both Neil and Geddy seemed to want it that way. They wanted people to know Alex’s full range and power.
So it was fitting that on June 21st in Hershey, PA, I got to sit in Alex’s personal seats and fully appreciate the humble proficiency he has been displaying all the while. The night was full of connection beginning with those around our seats, talking with the sound and lighting guys at the break, and finally meeting people waiting out the traffic telling stories of how RUSH has impacted their lives.
Connection is why so many of us love being there. For that gift I’m grateful to the three of you.
Of course, Alex, none of this would have happened without the idea of your good friend and without a mutual friend of his and mine remembering how much I love RUSH offering me a ticket. Thank you Kip and Troy for the musical experience of a lifetime! And for the opportunity to understand my favorite band better, I thank you Al!