A lot of people, including many on FTB, talked about 2016 being a bad year. I wasn’t one of them, but not because I didn’t care about those who died during the year. I’m growing more philosophical as I get older, turning 50 myself next month, so seeing many of the names I grew up with dying (most 10-30 years older than me) comes more as inevitability than surprise.
The biggest inevitability for me in 2016 of people coming to an end are the band Rush. No, nobody died, but drummer Neil Peart has made it clear that his arthritis makes any more touring out of the question. After more than forty years, they will no longer play live as Rush, though guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/singer Geddy Lee still want to perform, and they might still record.
I always knew the band would come to an end, but I always thought I would be sad or crying. Instead, all I feel is grateful to them. I am grateful that in the 1970s as a kid, there were other people who felt, liked and said the same things that I did, making me feel a lot less alone in the world. I am grateful for a band that was down to Earth and ethical, grateful for a band that played throughout my entire lifespan, and grateful for literally dozens of existing albums that will keep me entertained even if another one never comes. Clockwork Angels is arguably their best album, so it’s one hell of a high note to end on if it’s their last.
Considering the band’s history, feeling anything but grateful would be an insult to them. In the mid-1980s, there was talk of a split because of musical direction in the band, but they worked it out. In the late 1990s, Neil Peart didn’t play for four years after the deaths of his daughter and his wife a year apart, yet they pulled through. (“Consider me retired” is what Peart told Lee and Lifeson in 1998.) Every year and every album since 2001 has been a bonus, and the only complaints I have are (a) the “loudness wars” on Vapour Trails, which even Rush admit is a problem, and (b) fans stopped buying Rush’s albums in the numbers they used to.
I have nothing but best wishes and gratitude to offer them. To Mssrs. Dirk (a/k/a Gershon), Lerxst (a/k/a Slobovic) and Pratt (a/k/a O’Malley), I thank you and I’m still smiling.