I just broke out Moving Pictures and, for the first time in ~fifteen years, listened to it all the way through. Pardon the pun, but what a rush “The Camera Eye” is, and what a shame Rush doesn’t perform it live anymore. Guitar riffs like that are what got me through the early-to-mid 1990s.
I got into Rush when I was thirteen and badly in need of an anthem, something through which to channel my various burning teenage frustrations. Roll the Bones was my first Rush album, certainly not one of the band’s harder albums (and certainly not very “hard” when compared to the typical garage band fare that was emerging at the time), but hard enough. Keep in mind that until that point, I’d spent half a lifetime listening exclusively to Phil Collins and Neil Diamond. So, yeah, Rush was hard. And it only got better when Counterparts came out. The guitars were louder, the themes darker—there was angst all over the album. I needed that. Whenever I got pissed at my school teachers, my family or friends, or the world in general, I’d lock my bedroom door, cue up “Stick It Out,” and air-guitar myself into a more amiable state. See, I was going through that phase most teenage boys do, that adolescent maelstrom during which I needed to kill something, or fuck someone, or set fire to something valuable. I suppose I could’ve used my weight set more often, or gone jogging around the neighborhood whenever the juices got backed up…nah, fuck that. My family lived between the ghetto and a cemetery at the time. Both were scary. I stayed indoors after school and listened to Rush, watched Star Trek, struggled with my math homework.
In 1995 I moved (back) to Texas, leaving the ghetto and the cemetery behind and re-meeting a childhood friend, who literally had that all-Rush case from Hutch’s van in Fanboys (though my friend had CDs instead of cassettes). I discovered Presto (my third and, to this day, favorite Rush album), 2112, Fly by Night, and all the other classic staples. I stayed in Texas for a year, and Rush continued to score my life, albeit now under more positive circumstances (did I mention I no longer lived next to a cemetery?). I got a girlfriend, made some amazing friends at school, and discovered my passion for writing.
The following year, my family decided to move back to California. By then, Test for Echo was out, and I needed it, as I was once again pissed at life. I bought the album at this really cool little music shop in North Star Mall. I listened to it at least a dozen times during the drive, spending the entire trip with my head stuck between a pair of earphones as I sketched out the beginnings of what would later become The Knack. Frustration is inspiration.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s I shifted from hard rock and heavy metal to New Age, electronica, and ambient. I was writing seriously by then, and needed good mood music. My Tangerine Dream phase lasted a good five years…I still can’t shake my David Arkenstone habit. However, in the last two or three years I’ve rediscovered my love for the hard stuff. Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and, funnily enough, Dethklok have tickled my fancy—but I’ll always have that soft spot for Rush. In the old days I would’ve reserved a section of my CD rack for their albums; nowadays I always make sure I have enough hard drive space set aside for their MP3s. In the future I’ll make sure I keep enough space on my back free so that I’ll be ready when musical grafts become commonplace.