I Lost a Friend
The drummer, Neil Peart from the Canadian rock band Rush passed away January 7 of this year. He had aggressive brain cancer and lived to age 64. While I have never met this amazing person, I consider him to be a dear friend. I thought it would be nice to explore how he influenced my writing in this blog.
While I had been aware of the band Rush from an early age, I did not appreciate their music. Around the age of 19, the song Tom Sawyer came on at an event and I asked the surrounding people, “Who are these people?” From that single moment, I had an immediate connection to their music, philosophy, and style.
One might ask, “What makes them special?” Before launching into an epic 30-page answer, I must take a step back and acknowledge the existence of many great musicians/bands. Each one has a unique story, talent, hook, and sound. With so many excellent choices, we have the freedom to listen to the songs/music genre that we enjoy.
Taking an outside view, clearly, not everybody is a Rush fan. They have been described as “tragically un-hip.” Side note. That’s harsh! The haters complain about preachy lyrics, loud music, muted style and unable to compare to (Blog readers, please fill in your own favorite musician here ____________.)
Of course, when it comes to music, we put on our headphones, ignore the haters and play the next track of our favorite artist. However, the question remains. How did Neil Peart music influence me and why do I consider him a friend? Hmm. How does music influence anybody? I think it provides inspiration. At the very least, it gives us something to dance to and sing in the shower. Side note. I am more of a sing in the car without passengers. Yes, I do get amusing looks from the other drivers.
On the topic of writing, Neil is the band’s “chief lyrist.” He wrote the majority of their songs and much of their music. If I were to choose a word to describe the music’s message, it would be “inspirational.”
A song is quite different from a book. Each word is incredibly important, scrutinized and meaningful. For example, the song Beat It by Michael Jackson has 399 words. Yet, those 399 words made a #1 hit that continues to be a huge inspiration.
When one writes, one does their best to create a perfect gem of a story. A writer considers all aspects and works deep into the night to improve. I think the spirit of every Rush song embodies this philosophy. Neil worked hard to create something new, close to his heart and special. I think the results eliminated every scrap of junk and only left perfect gems of music.
I often wonder about the creative process that Neil went through and where his inspiration came from. On an amusing side note, I have yet to make a Rush reference in any of my books. Why? I did not feel I had attained the level of writing perfection to include them.
A big part of my personality is being a perfectionist. It is in every aspect of my life and I see the same in all Rush songs. The difference is that Neil succeeded in creating something great. I have yet to achieve his level of perfection. It took me a while to pin down what I learned from Neil. He gave me the vision to see my own goal. Thanks.
When I learned Neil passed away, it felt like somebody punched me. I indeed lost a part of my life that only could be the result of losing a friend. A very sad day. My mentor could no longer provide new inspiration. In addition, he would never write any more music, conduct interviews, and it would never be possible to meet my friend.
In reflecting upon his passing, I did come up with one bright spot. He left behind a wealth of music, writing, and interviews. Even my daughter likes a few Rush songs. How cool is that? I hear their passionate music read the words that touch my heart. Wait a minute. Did I just end this blog with a Rush quote? Hmm. Breaking some rules already.
P.S. This is my 100th blog. Yay. I dedicate this blog to Neil. You have proven to be a true inspiration.


You’re the best -Bill
February 19, 2020
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