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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stuff about Rush.

That would be the Canadian rock band, not the conservative talk show host.

The first article concerns lead singer Geddy Lee, and makes it clear that "Red Sector A" is much more personal than I ever imagined:

The 20-year-old song "Red Sector A," from the 1984 album "Grace Under Pressure," comes from a deeply emotional and personal place in the heart of lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee.
The seeds for the song were planted nearly 60 years ago in April 1945 when British soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Lee's mother, Manya (now Mary) Rubenstein, was among the survivors. (His father, Morris Weinrib, was liberated from Dachau a few weeks later.) The whole album "Grace Under Pressure," says Lee, who was born Gary Lee Weinrib, "is about being on the brink and having the courage and strength to survive."

* * *

"I once asked my mother her first thoughts upon being liberated," Lee says during a phone conversation. "She didn't believe [liberation] was possible. She didn't believe that if there was a society outside the camp how they could allow this to exist, so she believed society was done in."
In fact, when Manya Rubenstein looked out the window of a camp building she was working in on April 15, 1945, and saw guards with both arms raised, she thought they were doing a double salute just to be arrogant. She did not realize British forces had overrun the camp. She and her fellow prisoners, says Lee, were so malnourished, their brains were not functioning, and they couldn't conceive they'd be liberated.

The second is an interview with Alex Lifeson, one of the most consistently underrated guitarists in the business:

EPI: Throughout your career, Rush has consistently broken the mold for what a successful rock band looks know, the three-and-a-half minute, hook-laden tune was not in your repertoire and yet you have been hugely successful selling tens-of-millions of records and CDs and creating an insanely huge, loyal fan base. What do you think it is about Rush that connects with people despite the fact that you don't fit the dictated pop music mold?

ALEX: Well, I think in the very early days there was something about Rush that was really non-radio, that set it apart from everybody else. We wrote longer songs, we were more interested in the musicianship and it was all about the band and not about the lifestyle. On top of that, our lyrics were a lot more serious than what a lot of rock bands were writing at the time so while we did get some good press, most of the press we got was not so good....and I think what happened was that people became attached to this band because we were different, unusual and not popular. It became kind of a cult thing and over the years our audience has just grown with us. We've tried to stay true to our original beliefs and we've been very uncompromising, satisfying ourselves before anyone else with our music.

We were fortunate enough to make a record that was successful, fairly early in our career--it was like 4 records in, called 2112 and the record company realized that hey, these guys have what they have and they know what it is, so we're not going to interfere and just let them do what they're doing because we're selling records. And management was the same way. We've never had anyone from the record company or management spend a day in the studio or even an hour in the studio when we've recorded! We've had total freedom to do what we want and I think our fans understand that and appreciate that--and expect that from us. We've really developed this relationship and the bottom line is that we try to play as best we can. We've always set a very high standard for ourselves and people appreciate that. People want to hear good players play and players that try hard. Modern music is all over the place right now but it's not well supported. Its hard to really find music that's challenging and compelling--and I'm not saying that music sucks--there are a lot of great bands out there and lots of great players but you really have to look for them.

Interestingly enough (or not), I listened to Overture/Temples of Syrinx from 2112 on the way home today. D&D and Rush both turned 30 this year. Two huge mile markers from my middle and high school years--both thirty.

That salt-n-pepper look in my hair is supposed to be distinguished, right?


Yes, it is.

[Links via fellow Rush aficionado Jim Cork.]

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