Music Features

Pop Culture Ponderings #2: The Rush Effect

I will do anything, absolutely anything, to avoid writing a paper on "Stuttering in Adolescents". I’ve offered the job to other people, but they don’t seem to want it. With all this “free time” created by my endless procrastination, I’ve decided to listen to about ten albums I’ve either been meaning to consume or revisit, take notes on things I’m in line to review, and now, right now, write a Pop Culture Ponderings piece, something I’ve only done (and by done I mean have published) once before.

On Saturday night a couple of weeks back, I had a revelation. I was still on an emotional high after the Royal Wedding, so I went to the World Famous Up and Up (Bellingham’s finest beer serving establishment) to drink until every girl in the bar looked like Pippa Middleton. I ran into my friend and concert going buddy, Justin Kay, and immediately proceeded to consume several beverages far faster than intended. As always, the conversation turned to music. One key item came out of our conversations: there is no better band to drink to than Rush.
I can already hear the naysayers telling me that Rush sucks. They might be dead wrong, but that’s irrelevant. My point is that when large amounts of alcohol are consumed, Rush becomes the best band on the planet. I saw them live when I was 17. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I’ve never seen more beer consumed during a band's set. Now, after years of listening to Rush in all their awesome glory, and thanks to the good folks at the Up serving Pabst Blue Ribbon at $4 per pitcher, I understand.
The first reason is simple. Pure, unleaded badassery. This may sound subjective, but I assure you it will no longer seem that way seven beers in. First off, Geddy Lee is a fantastic bass player. His lines are complicated and jump all over the neck, but he’s never afraid to sit in the pocket either. He may be one of rock's greatest bass players, but it’s not about the ego for him; it’s about the song. They’re all about
the song. Not only are all three of them great musicians, but they’re great at knowing just when to show off. It makes it that much more powerful when they do, and those highlights reach astronomically
greater heights while drinking.
Reason 2: Neil Motherfucking Peart. Who doesn’t love to play air drums? Who doesn’t love playing air drums even more while they’re drinking? Is there a better drummer to play air drums to than Neil
Peart? No. NO. THERE IS NOT. Flailing my arms around like a buffoon is infinitely more fun when it’s set to Tom Sawyer. He’s incredible even when he’s not playing flashy fills. He fills every blank space left by his bandmates.
Reason 3: The lyrics. The lyrics are great in an incredibly silly way. They sing in painfully obvious metaphors; metaphors that seem shallow and lackluster while sober. But while drinking, they’re incredible. They’re deep. Songs comparing politicians to battling pine trees suddenly seem thoughtful. Songs about being a working man and sitting down with an ice cold beer hold a new note of truth. I may be a college student (about the furthest away from working man as one can possibly be) but I AM drinking beer, and that’s half the song. Singing about priests and futuristic cults is cool too. It’s all just incredible.
Reason 4: The vocals. Geddy Lee is a quintessential ‘70s rock vocalist. He sings in a higher, female register (which I can guarantee you causes his vocal folds considerable stress, and could potentially cause nodules. This is what I’m forced to think about all the time, and it's ridiculous). He belts out loud songs in falsetto, and I can imitate it poorly when I’m sober but quite well when I’m drunk. I wonder if
he speaks like an ordinary guy (though if he gets nodules, probably not; he’ll end up with a rough voice due to aperiodic vibration).
Reason 5: The Spirit of Radio makes everyone excited. There. That’s the entire reason. It’s an exciting song about radios.
Reason 6: Not only is Rush conducive to air drumming, it’s conducive to air everything. Alex Lifeson has some wonderful guitar solos. I mean c’mon, have you heard Freewill? Fuckin’ ridiculous.
Reason 7: Nostalgia. Drinking and getting nostalgic go hand in hand. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I had a very brief Rush phase that corresponds to a very specific period in my life, one where I didn’t do shit but swim at the lake and climb mountains. None of this vocal nodule bullshit.
Those are my reasons. For those who are wondering, I was completely sober while writing this. There is, however, a birthday party tomorrow night, one that will inevitably begin and end at the Up. I know just
what to put on the jukebox.