“Best I Can”
“Beneath, Between, Behind”
“By-Tor and the Snowdog”
“Fly By Night”
“In the End”
My journey into the world of hard rock started when I got KISS’ Love Gun for my 15th birthday. It opened up a whole world for me. I became obsessed with KISS – all the albums released up to that point, posters all over my walls, action figures, lunch box, books, etc. I listened to them all the time. I drew pictures of them. I forced my parents into subscribing to a new cable service called HBO because they were going to be showing a KISS concert from 1976. At first my parents weren’t too keen on the whole thing, but they eventually got used to it and learned to embrace it, getting me tons of KISS stuff for Christmas.
Well, that just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t have my parents being okay with my formerly rebellious music choices, now could I? When I was first introduced to Rush, it was a friend who brought a copy of the Fly By Night LP to school. The cover art was kind of cool, but the music was like nothing I’d ever heard before. There were songs that were more than 3.5 minutes. The lyrics were about weird stuff like Tolkien, demonic battles, and Ayn Rand. There was a darkness and a mysticism that I’d never heard in music before. More specifically, the drumming was extraordinary. Everyone knows Neil Peart now, but at the time, Rush was still a bit more underground. This guy played like nobody else; he didn’t just keep the beat, he contributed to structure and arrangement of the song. His playing was clean, intricate, powerful and – and this is the thing that most impressed me – musical. This guy was making the drums just as integral an instrument to the overall setting and interpretation of the song as the bass and guitar. And the fact that it was the drummer who was writing all these hyper-intelligent, poetic epics excited me.
I never learned to play quite like Peart, of course – my biggest drumming influence was still a few years away – but I did learn to think of playing drums in a different way. I also learned that songs could be about more than just love / relationship / party, etc. I began writing lyrics of my own. I wrote one called “The Black Warrior” which I wish I still had a copy of.
Soon after I borrowed Fly By Night from my friend, and I’d thoroughly absorbed it, I was loaned 2112. That shit blew my mind. An album that had a piece lasting an entire album side that told a long, complex story. That was absolutely new territory for me. I went bananas on this stuff. By this time, I was hooked on Rush completely. I got all the other albums, and was surprised by the shifts in style their music took. When Permanent Waves was released in 1980, it had a profound affect on me. It was like all previous phases of Rush folded in together. The songs were mostly shorter, and were pop-y and accessible, but retained the prog-y nature of the late 70s, with a couple of songs – “Natural Science” and “Jacob’s Ladder“ – being longer soundscapes that were big expansions of the band’s musical horizons.
Becoming a Rush fan led to my love of Progressive Rock. I inevitably became a Yes fan (more on that later), and eventually discovered other bands like Genesis, Moody Blues, ELP, Triumph, Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard, IQ, Renaissance (I discovered them very late in the game) and many, many others.
I followed Rush throughout their whole career, and their most recent album, Clockwork Angels, is one of their best, with that tour possibly the best one they’ve ever done. And it all started in ’79 with a loaner of Fly By Night. The best part was that after having gotten used to KISS, my family HATED Rush!!