Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rush- Hemispheres

Rush- Hemispheres

Oh god...Rush. Why even bother to work up a dudgeon, whether high or low, about such a preposterous cultural relic as the meretricious Canadian Power Trio who have been making exuberantly-musicianed hokum for thirty-five years now? This is kid’s stuff, surely, and I should know because my mother probably still maintains a box of cassettes at home with copies of every record up ‘till Hold Your Fire; and why pick on kids, when anyone who knows anything about Rush realizes that the kind of youth who gravitates towards this pastiche philosophizing is troubled, lonely, introverted and...different. And more than likely abused or marginalized to some extent in whatever Subdivision he’s growing up in. Don’t these kids need their own music? Surely, they do, and I’ll go one better: Rush fills an important need for these lonely boys and one I find to be decidedly positive. When the outcasts and misfits started listening to utter garbage like Slipknot that urged mindless rage instead of, say, Permanent Waves that at least had “intelligent” lyrics and cautioned a kind of principled stoicism in response- well, this culture has been nursing psychopaths for many years now, and, yes, I blame the record industry for Columbine and I could give a fuck who thinks this makes me sound like Dan Quayle.

So why bother, then, to heap scorn and abuse on three talented musicians who unfortunately have chosen to live a permanent adolescence and make music that is the endless equivalent of Catcher in the Rye (because let’s face it, it’s a pretty tiresome book after a while)? The reason is simple, and summed up graphically in the slatternly mien and rebarbative, puerile philosophy of the group’s un-official guru: Ayn Rand. For no one in history has been more insidiously successful in popularizing that wizened cunt’s loathsome solipsistic ravings- and thereby ensuring the continued madness of Libertarianism and the resultant destruction of the world’s economic system- than that Plato of the skins, Mr. Neil Peart. In the history of the world, Peart ranks right up there with Alfred Rosenberg and Andrei Zhdanov for popularizing a disastrous philosophy that swamped the world in its baleful fog and choked out reason from the brains of many an inquisitive young person; Nazism, Stalinist Dialectics and Objectivism are the three pearls of metaphysical pretense to The Curator’s sorrowing mind, and Peart’s poetic grasping of Rand’s insipid Nietzsche-for-dummies rhapsodizing means he’s going to answer for his crimes, at least on my fucking blog he is.

The problem is apparent from the start: who would ever listen to a drummer when it comes to what books to read? For Christ’s sakes, drummers have a well-earned reputation for being dim as dorm-fridge bulbs and about as comfortable with abstract thought as the Bush Twins in a semiotics lab. I’m not sure I’d let the typical drummer clean my pool (those filters can cause a world of hurt) let alone proffer insight on the mysteries of the brain, and the complicated interplay between the Dionysian and Apollonian in the aesthetic struggle raging in the supplicant and seeker’s mind. Which brings us, neatly, to the subject of this review, an album even most Rush enthusiasts would allow is a near-total fiasco due to the overwhelming failed ambition of the title track: Hemispheres.

Behold, the God of Pretense has arrived! A concept album about...The Birth of Tragedy! Oh, the drugs must have been very good in 1978, Mr. Peart, very good indeed...

Any analysis of the album is, essentially, redundant and extraneous; it’s the same old Rush story, you know it very well if you know the band at all: superb musical passages suddenly interrupted by cheese-ball synth work, Lifeson’s classic-rock-monster riffs making you wonder “what if”, Geddy Lee’s vigorous and tasteful bass work and, yes, Peart’s outstanding drumming undone by some of the most preposterously overwrought and insensate lyrics ever written. And I don’t care that they’re “Canadian”, that’s no excuse; I’ve known plenty of Canadians who aren’t this lame, or this...befuddled. Lee has never been at higher, testicle-cringing altitude than the “singing” done on this album, indeed, it almost sounds like he’d heard this dude named "Surkamp" was out there and he really needed to ratchet things up to keep his title of Falsetto Rex the Shrill. I’ve always felt Lee was somewhat unfairly maligned for his vocal work; this is rock n’ roll, after all, and Robert Plant got away with some serious helium-sucking excess on Houses of the Holy and is worshipped like a god. But there are times on Hemispheres that Mr. Lee sounds like the air horn the Germans used to put on the nose of a Stuka dive-bomber to scare the hell out of hapless refugees. Volume is one thing, but a gaggle of rioting macaques can’t match the sheer insanity of Geddy’s nefarious ululating, done to a pitch that is generally only heard in music when a tube-amp has exploded or a serialist composer has gone mad. Fortunately, what he’s singing about is even more ridiculous, so some of the pressure is taken off of Geddy’s shoulders and returned to the Randian epigone who is personally responsible for half the political arguments I get into when I go to bars.

Again, what is there to say? If Allen Greenspan were a rock band, he would be Rush and Hemispheres is the band’s sub-prime loan. Superlatives are in mean supply when the fantastic catastrophe of Atlas Shrugged comes up, but I must admit, Peart matches that vicious old crone pomposity for pomposity, and brings back in 5/4 time all of the festering rage I nurse for that fascist slut with the loving care of a murderer – for Ayn Rand is the single greatest argument that I know of that Lenin didn’t kill enough.

Which leads us to the meat of this essay: are Rush fascist, and if so, should children be protected from them? Well, I find it significant that in the All Music Guide review of Hemispheres (which the dazzlingly obsequious reviewer feels is a “masterpiece”; who wrote this crap, Mrs. Maury Weintraub of Toronto, ON?) mentions that "The Trees", quote, “deals with” racism. Okay, this is a bit of a stretch, but let’s say it does; if so, a cursory perusal of the lyrics would seem to indicate Peart would be in favor of keeping the lesser elms in their place. This is one of the most violently anti-egalitarian songs ever written, and while it is fine to tout the superiority of the individual and the pressing need of the tallest tree to preen most keenly and take the most light, this kind of anthropomorphism is fantastically deterministic; for trees are only a product of their genes, can neither learn nor think, and only man himself can even prune them for their own more- efficient survival. A Freudian analysis of the lyrics unveils a host of priapic demons rife in Peart’s flowering metaphor, a Lacanian one more menacing eugenic fantasies that betray a perhaps more closely-cropped moustache than the Rollie Fingers look he sported ca. 2112. But all of this posturing misses a central point: the lyrics are, of course, strictly Randian, a woodsy re-telling of the John Galt fantasy and the struggles of a man used to practicing “situational ethics”, and, therefore, preposterous, laughable, essentially fraudulent and pure Romanov-diaspora kitsch. I return to a point made much earlier in this essay: kids didn’t kill each other when they listened to Rush (though some of us sure as hell thought about it) and that, after all, is the final proof that Ayn Rand is just a phase like acne, parachute pants and premature ejaculation during furtive sexual experiences (not that I would know anything about that, mind you) that some overly-Romantic dreamers pass through on the way to an adulthood of massive conformity and literary fantasies lingering in sobering desuetude. And The Curator finished his paragraph, and yea, did he weep...

Thus, what is there to say about Rush, in conclusion? A youthful trifle, a bagatelle of adolescence, perhaps if all goes well a gateway drug to more challenging and beauteous Prog; and I must admit, while the album version falls short, Lifeson’s magnificently emotional live solo on "La Villa Strangiato" (from 1981’s Exit: Stage Left) still can produce a frisson of envy that I could never make music like that. But when one transitions from pimply-conjecture to wrinkle-browed wisdom...perhaps it is time to put Rush in the toy box along with many other discarded pastimes, segue gracefully to books somewhat-less-horrific than The Fountainhead, and realize that paying your taxes is a downpayment on civilization. Because, as said, I still blame Peart for this plague of buffoons who look at Somalia and see the happy fate they wish upon my poor United States of America. You pack of tea-bagging cocksuckers, anyway.

And if you think I’m being typical in my bludgeoning exaggerations...below, perfect Randian wisdom from those ideological scalawags at the Cato Institute. Enjoy. (Skip down to the part about Somalia with the “Find” feature in Firefox; simply, absolutely must be read to be believed) - TR


  1. Okay, Regarding the Cato link: the guy takes the notion of laissez faire to an unhealthy extreme, no question about it. But none of the Founding Fathers would have agreed with that position. They all understood the necessity of government for common defense, protection of civil liberties, and enforcement of contract law, all of which are a requirement for any sort of free society.

    As far as Hemispheres is concerned, I think (to the surprise of no one who reads your blog regularly) you have overstated your case a bit. Peart's Ayn Rand fixation played itself out in Fly By Night, Caress of Steel, and 2112. After that the fever broke. By A Farewell To Kings he was on to other musings. I don't see Hemispheres as having any Randian leadings at all. Calling him a Nazi and an fascist, considering that Geddy is jewish with family members surviving the Holocaust, isn't very fair. Geddy would be in a better place to judge Peart's intentions than you, seeing that he was the one having to sing those lines in 200-300 shows per year.

    You really missed the point of "The Trees" as well. It is about the secessionist movement--oaks = Quebecer secessionists, maples = the rest of the country. The moral of the tale is that the conflict could decimate both sides. Think of it as the Candian version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

    But you are dead on about Rush's role as the band for geeks and nerds. Pimply-faced, greasy haired, skinny guys who would never have the most remote shot at making out with a girl did NOT want to be reminded about it in every Journey song. They wanted to rock out to songs about technology, science fiction, the Space Shuttle, two halves of a brain fighting it out with some happy-go-lucky astronaut moderating the battle--ANYTHING but romantic love. Ergo Rush--the misfits glorious distraction. Because they were great players, the geek could also add a touch of elitism, even. "Your band SUCKS compared to RUSH."

    I still love this album, despite its flaws. They were really going for something, which I respect. This LP would pretty much end their prog pretenses and afterward it would all be about writing a great FM-ready hooky single. This is their prog swan song.

  2. All right, back the truck up, time for some common-sense dumpin'...

    The trouble with the maples
    And they're quite convinced they're right
    They say the oaks are just too lofty
    And they grub up all the light

    I'm quoting from memory here, but this is pretty damn close as far as it goes. Now- how in the name of Dagny Taggart does ANY of that equate with your bizarre "Quebecois" theory? The English-speaking Canucks are jealous of the Qubecois? Maybe the fact that the Canadiens used to automatically get the top draft pick from PQ every year, but other than that, I think you need to take off, hoser.

    And the end of the song- "the trees are all kept equal, by hatchet- axe- and saw" is also anything but an endorsement of equality. The outside influence of gov't comes in, prunes the whites and lets the blacks take over, with the Jews paying for it all. CLEARLY this is the message of the song. It stops just short of calling for a pogrom! My prediction is that Sarah Palin will use this as her theme song for what promises to be the most trailer-riffic presidential run in American history; if it's her and Joe the Plumber, I'll join the campaign just to be around the freakshow it will attract.

    I was also just mentioning earlier about the Totalitarian underpinnings of the philosophy behind Rush's most beloved ballad, "Closer to the Heart". Change a few things around, and it could be Zhdanov himself offering a stirring endorsement of the principles behind Socialist-Realism. All of society, from the poet down to the blacksmith, in some little box with a role to play for the "betterment" of the society. As Foucault would observe regarding Sartre- "TERRORISME!"
    You're lucky I'm drunk, Bart- otherwise I'd REALLY tell you how fascist Rush is!

  3. You can't have it both ways, Tim. You can't pretend Peart is an unwavering disciple of Ayn Rand, who utterly despised socialism and collectivism (not to mention religion--you share that iconoclastic impulse in common with her), and at the same time castigate his collectivistic impulses in "Closer To The Heart." You can certainly criticize him quite credibly for glaring inconsistencies, though. He touts "Free Will", but in "Entre Nous", two songs later on Permanent Waves, says that some bridges are those "we would not choose but we're not always free."

    Peart is a high school dropout who read a lot of books over the years. A self-educated man. Understandably, his own personal philosophy and world view are logically inconsistent at times, because, like many people, he is still trying to piece it all together.

    As far as "The Trees" are concerned. the interpretation I offered is one of the most common. I claim no innovation. I also do not claim that the analogy is a perfect one on Mr. Peart's part.

    Another thought, though, would be that in 1978 the Arms Race was still in full swing, and the concept of "mutually assured destruction" was part of the public consciousness. The "hatchet, axe, and saw" line, at least to me in that context, sounds a lot like a final, doomsday, "all parties lose" moralism to end the story with that is very similar to nuclear annihilation.

    Seeing that it is just a whimsical song (as "whimsical" as a song can be with a 5/8 instrumental break) with a children's parable vibe to it, the meaning could easily be a combination of both interpretations.

    With Peart, it doesn't have to make perfect sense. It only has to sound witty and not be about chicks.

    Rush is not fascist, nor socialist, and Peart is not a serious and uniformly consistent Randian. He's a rock drummer who writes lyrics geeks like. He SOUNDS witty to the pubescent male mind. And he avoids all things reproductive.

    Sounds like YOU'RE lucky you're drunk.

  4. You're right in the sense that the social engineering exercise Peart decries in his lyrics is clearly "outcome based" and therefore similar to the "zero-sum" arguments of the game theorists who gave the world the symbolic logic behind MAD.

    All equalities are not equal, however; the perfectly defensible idea behind deterrence is to make striking out offensively so painful that detente is a prefferable route for the diplomat. Social orders are more complicated than arms races, however, since the latter is composed of finite numbers and any dynamics germane to weapons stockpiling are imposed by the logic of terror, rather than mass movements or will on the part of the "trees".

    No matter, poorly misunderstood ethics exercizes lead to fascism outbreaks amongst the "Goobermensch", trailer-dwellers with as many teeth as kids who insist on viewing themselves as "Aryans" and "the master race". These are the people who voted Bush into office TWICE, thrilled that even though he was destroying their way of life at least the faggots couldn't get married. They're getting what they deserve, and I for one take great glee in the destruction of the Posse Comitatus zealots who don't even have sense enough to fight for their own interests (let alone that they have no idea what those interests really are).

  5. Interesting contrast--poor white supremacists referring to themselves as the "master race." Seems pretty silly to me. The pastor of a church I used to attend was a black man who served in the business office of Fermilab, the super collider in Batavia, IL. He used illustrations from the world of quantum mechanics in his sermons. Great stuff. I'd like to see the average white supremist claim his inherent intellectual superiority to that guy.

    It is a complete stretch to say that THEY voted Bush into office, though. They are a tiny minority, and in most states they inhabit their votes would not have swung one electoral college elector away from Gore or Kerry. If white supremacists had boycotted either election, the outcome would have been the same. Montana did not decide the election in 2000--Florida did, and in the counties that made a difference organized white-power groups were not a factor.

    As a conservative, I really had to scratch my head at a lot of Bush policies. While a "social conservative" on a few issues, he certainly showed absolutely no interest in streamlining or shrinking government. Quite the opposite. At least a guy like Obama is consistent with his ideology.

    But I've gone far afield from the original point of this thread--Hemispheres. I am sorry you don't like it. Of all the Rush albums, this would have been one of the last I would ever think worthy of PRHOI attention, but this is your baby. Maybe Roll The Bones would just not be sporting of you--it's soooo easy to loathe and ridicule.

    1. I don't know if people are still reading this but, I'll assume you're white? There is no such thing as a white supremacist. I'm sure the pastor you alluded to is a brilliant man. Much smarter than the "trailer trash" you have such contempt for. The difference is numbers. Where did quantum mechanics come from? White men. Who invented the computer? White men. Who invented the airplane? White men, ad infinitum. Blacks, as a group, are incapable of creating, much less sustaining a civilization.

      Everyone on this blog agrees with me. Everyone on here consciously and deliberately avoids every single black community in the world. Whether it is a U.S. "ghetto" or entire country, (Zimbabwe, Sudan, The Congo, Haiti etc.)

      The civilization white people have created is "superior" to all others. You all enjoy its amenities while simultaneously spitting on it.

      What about Japanese supremacists? There's no diversity in Japan, and they have an immigration policy designed to keep it that way.

      What about Jewish supremacists? Israel is
      now in the process of kicking thousands of Africans.

      What about Mexican supremacy? Mexico is now in the process of kicking out hordes of Central Americans?

      Only white people have no right to their ancestral homelands thanks to leftists like everyone on this blog.

  6. Part of what makes this blog so special is that I specifically look at things from a contrarian viewpoint; why talk about Tales from Topographic Oceans when the whole world knows what boring garbage it is? I try to find the true debacles- a world of difference in meanings, Bart!- albums that aim high and crash in flames of pure hubris. EVERYTHING about the PRIC mindset is offensive to me; even the albums those guys hate are banal and predictable to the point of pointlessness. Their world is utterly alien to a truly transgressive thinker like me.

    However, "Bones" may end up being referenced one of these days, perhaps even sooner than you think...

  7. Previous comment deleted for total lack of humor and value. Good-bye, Mr. Worth.

  8. HMMM.... Love em' or hate em, hardly any other single band creates or starts up better or more sociological, political, philisophical or topical discussion than the phenomenigma know as Rush. That fact alone cannot be denied. Thank You Neil Peart for at the very least bringing people together and making people THINK! Regardless if they agree with your philosophy or your music.

    Like the great Ian Anderson once sang " I may make you feel but i can't make you think!

    Greg V.

    Live Long and Strong All!!!

  9. So...........your an idiot? You write a long winded diatribe bashing one of the greatest artists to grace the Earth, calling his group a phase like acne. Calling Rush a toy? Try creating anything to come close to what they accomplished, blogger. What do you actually have on them, anyway? You can type a overly ornate text wall, but can you inspire or create? I didn't think so. Next time you want to come down on Rush, make an album.......oh, wait, that's right, your not an artist, your an internet parasite.

    P.S.- Hemispheres is a Masterpiece about Logic, Love, and the balance of heart and mind, not the birth of tragedy, dipshit. Go fly into a black hole, it would be no great loss to a universe filled with wonders that you would undoubtedly take it upon yourself to shit on. Go critique the Milky Way, if you feel like it, the impact you can make is more than what you can do to Rush. Piss ant.

    P.P.S.- Ayn Rand understood more about humanity than you understand about bullshit, and that's saying ALOT.

    P.P.P.S.- Go fuck yourself.

  10. Wow, I think I'm starting to make sense of Prog hate. I never thought of Prog hate as being ideological before, but it makes sense. Possibly because Proggers are white? Liberals hate being white, for some reason, and so any musical style that does not attract blacks must be shameful and racist. Same goes with the various metal styles, I suppose.

    I wish there was a trans-ethnic surgery that could be performed on these poor souls. And outcome-based thinking is bad? Sadly, I understand the reasoning behind this. I understand Dems for some reason. They want to focus on "Doing the right thing" regardless of the consequences to an ordered society. Give everybody a hot meal and a warm cot regardless of the logistical impossibilities or the difficulties in giving them a second hot meal, and a third,... Just do it because its the right thing to do.
    I recognize the dangers in the right-wing for creating extremists and survivalist types. Can't be helped. But I notice that Obama's big government and control of big corporations is a core function of Fascism. How can Liberals not notice the pattern?

    This whole site seems tongue-in-cheek and tries to be comical (and is very funny), but the political undertones and line-drawing in an Us and Them (is Pink Prog?) alignment is unpleasant.

    I live in a red state now, and I keep wavering on the edge of becoming politically active, but it would require a seriousness of mind that I do not possess.

  11. What a top blog this is! Coming from a position of 'loved em as a teenager' to ' an adult' Tim, you got it right. Hemispheres? Top music, shite lyrics. From a nostalgia perspective, I can listen to this and remember being about 10 years old when I first heard it in the late seventies. Ooh it was incredibly important-sounding. Too 'old' for me really, something to aspire to! At the age of 42 it is, of course laughable, but the playing still does it for me, when I suspend that disbelief. Rush were, what? in their 20's when they wrote this? Trying to compete with english prog and jazz rock, they were drawn in and went for it; all out. Fair do's, this was the 70s. I bet they look back now, also embarrassed. Best thing about this? Alex Lifeson. Ace guitar sound for riffing and soloing. That'll do me.

  12. You're kind of an asshole man...I think you need to find something worthwhile to write about. Bashing a widely accepted influential band is kind of out of line. So what if their fans were nerds. Leave them be. What have you done? Nothi-oh wait! You started a blog that makes you look like a narrow-minded doucher...

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Wow... I just got the chance to read this...

    Did you at least buy the thesaurus dinner before you bent it over and ass-raped it?

    You are the epitome of hipster douchebag. I have this mental image of you hunched over a computer in your parent's basement furiously banging away on the keyboard as you look down your nose at every band more than six people have ever heard of.

    This is BAD writing. So bad, I'm sharing it other places online. Don't think the little spike in traffic you're getting means people are doing anything more than coming here to laugh at the above article. They're coming from my blog, and Facebook.


    I am just amazed at combination of arrogance and the absolutely horrifying text that follows.

  15. Hmmmm...quite the slipshod attempt at a Mencken-style marginalizing of this band, the members of which have weathered criticism much worse than yours. That's a fact, and it's simply unfortunate that Mr. Peart recently took his life after you made him answer for his crimes here on your "fucking blog". I agree with Osiris and have this to add: Your criticism appears to be stamped from the same material as those marginalized nerds whom you seem to forget are today probably running the companies you work for. Not that this matters when academically discussing fascist theory, philosophical and literary cornerstones, and comparing them to a FUCKING PROG ROCK BAND, you douchebag. I'm guessing you wouldn't be able to last 10 minutes in a room with true academics discussing the cultural relevance of a major influential canon. You could however, hold your own against Ann Coulter. Good luck.

  16. So many idiots in these comments, but I think that I'll stick to addressing the idea that "The Trees" is about white supremacy, even though it makes infinitely more sense as a parable about class and government AND was written by an Objectivist on top of that:

    Get your head out of your fucking ass.

  17. LOL HA HA HA!! What a bunch of wankers you all!! Where's your sense of humor? Keep on stoking yer prog prongs dorks and think they are bars of gold. Thanks for all the fun guys (as no girls are here either.)

  18. I'm trying to figure out which is the bigger waste of time; The effort put into this overly verbose diatribe, or my unrecoverable moments spent reading this nonsense.

  19. Thank fuck you are smarter than a drummer. Maybe in the next life? What a waste of time and space. Pseudo intellectual you are. You're not clever enough to shut down your puny brain. The crack you have been inhaling must be damn good boy! Now back away from the computer and ask mummy for a lollipop!