When I first saw the headline reporting Neil Peart’s death, I was hoping it was “fake news”, but when CBC and others were listed as sources, I accepted it.
Peart was always a private man who kept his personal life out of the media. When his first child died in 1997 and first wife in 1998, he asked for privacy and spent years away. I’m really not surprised that he never publicly revealed his diagnosis. I wonder how long he knew and if he was in contact with Gord Downie during his last days.
Neil Peart, the virtuoso drummer of iconic Canadian band Rush who was revered by fans and fellow musicians as one of the greatest drummers of all time, has died at age 67.
The influential musician and lyricist died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., after having been diagnosed with brain cancer, according to a statement issued Friday by family spokesperson Elliot Mintz.
His death was confirmed by Meg Symsyk, a media spokesperson for the progressive rock trio comprising Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.
“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer,” his bandmates said in a statement.
They also called for privacy for Peart’s family and urged fans wanting to express their condolences to make a donation in his name to a cancer research group or charity of their choice.
“Rest in peace, brother.”
I thought I would be more upset than I am, but as I get older, I’ve gotten more philosophical and accepting of the inevitable. I’m just glad for what was.
Remember in the 1970s when being openly gay or queer (never mind being Transgender) was “shocking”? Any time a celebrity came out, it was a message to young people everywhere, “You’re not weird or wrong. There are other people like you.”
Peart, and Rush as a whole, were the same for me in the 1970s and 1980s: They said the things I felt, held the same points of view. They told me I wasn’t the only one in the world, that there were others who felt the same way. And it made living in a world of oppression just a little bit easier. I will always be grateful to him.
Some songs are below the fold.
“Everyday Glory”, about finding the strength to carry on and carry yourself in the face of adversity. Thank you, Neil Peart.
“Though we know that time has wings, we’re the ones who have to fly.”
“Subdivisions” spoke to so many young people. Rush were the outsiders in high school, not the “cool kids”. (Geddy Lee’s parents both survived nazi death camps, Alex Zivojinovich’s parents were Serbian refugees from the nazis. Small wonder they gravitated to each other as teens.) They understood, and said what millions felt.
“Detached and subdivided in the mass production zone.
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone.”
Little boxes made of ticky tacky.
“Sweet Miracle” was on 2002’s Vapour Trails, their first album back after Neil Peart’s family had died. This song is clearly about his feelings towards those events.
“I wasn’t walking on water / I was standing on a reef
When the tide came in / Swept beneath the surface
Lost without a trace / No hope at all
I wasn’t walking with angels/ I was talking to myself
Rising up to the surface / Raging against the night
I wasn’t praying for magic / I was hiding in plain sight
Rising up from the surface / To fly into the light
Oh, sweet miracle of life”
“In The End” was about coming home from a tour, but it’s a fitting end to Peart’s life.
“I can see what you mean / It just takes me longer
I can feel what you feel / It just makes you stronger
You can take me for a little while / You can take me, you can make me smile
In the end”
“Limelight”, Peart’s response to becoming a “star” and his response to the phoniness of media celebrity.
Would I have liked to have met Peart? No, not unless I had become his next door neighbor or he introduced himself to me. He was always reticent about meeting “fans”, and I wouldn’t have wanted to violate his space. And I’m perfectly okay with that.
“Cast in this unlikely role / Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers / To keep oneself intact
Living in a fish eye lens / Caught in the camera eye
I have no heart to lie
I can’t pretend a stranger / Is a long-awaited friend”