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Life Are Deep!  Thoughts on the 40th Anniversary edition of Rush’s Moving Pictures

Photo: Omar Willey. CC-BY 4.0

Imposing, just not wild. Easy on the hair-waving. Well, that’s what I thought before refreshing myself. Look how wrong you can be… How wrong they could be conceptually galls (although upon consideration, Neil Peart was already moving out from under that Ayn Rand shadow), but I’m still listening for the hi-hats, the bass burbles, hidden away in mix corners.

Not slick, either. As they fire-freeze final structure, you feel the fingers in the clay.

“Tom Sawyer”: Remembered from MTV, billed as an excerpt from “An MTV Concert.” Lee looked cool, Lifeson sweaty, Peart faceless as a man always shot from behind can get. I watched a band from my high school do this at the annual variety show, and I didn’t even appreciate how tough the structure. (Hope they did.) Heard around a drunken campfire one night, years later: “I could play the notes Alex Lifeson had in the solo, but I couldn’t do all those pulls.”

A pedal-to-the-metal missive even more so that the following song–Peart commented that his right hand’s always busy here, even if not in your face. I could imagine myself one huge Sawyer, striding, or gliding, really, by the end, when the synth line jumps high and Peart paradiddles unto highest gear. Did I miss something, though, not noting that Tom not only gets other folks to do his work for him, but enjoy it? (Libertarianism: I got mine, and I got the right to go get others.)

“Red Barchetta”: The Rush song I’d use to convert the curious. Yes, Richard Foster’s short story “A Nice Morning Drive” kicked it off, but to wax esoteric, I always flash back to John Christopher’s The Guardians, published three years earlier, 1970. Haven’t read it in ages, but the industrial “Conurb” and the rural “Country,” along with (turbine?) trains, and the notion that the big stuff goes unsaid. You aren’t supposed to question the surface. A less-inquisitive soul might have settled for surface.The song and the Foster story, of course, feature the libertarian-friendly notion that the big bad government shut down automotive ecstasy as a public service. (Quite unlikely to muster pass, especially in bad old Southern California–and we won’t talk about Arizona.) Read the story (available at several web points) and you’ll see it ends in frustration–the driver wins the battle, but the attrition of increasing government regulation wins the war, and he gives up the MG.

One final boggle: The man who wrote fiction poking at iron-clad safety features in American autos, became Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“YYZ”: The ID code for Toronto Pearson International Airport, don’t you know, and how smoothly they tied it into their identity as Torontonians, especially on the bonus concert stuff–“Live From YYZ,” indeed. Guitar solo smooth pour over ice, bass watching like a semi-interested sea snake from below. Meticulous. Like your average sea snake.

“Limelight”: Gritty riff-driven, impeccable, subtle drum parts, and I can’t tackle it from any angle without Rand’s trademark selfishness. “I can’t pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend”– see, from the point of view of someone who has trouble making friends, and never knows when someone will turn on him, that sounds like privilege. Sounds like sure, I can afford to throw someone back, or not pluck from the sea at all. I assume I can make a friend from a stranger and hell, rejections from assumed-friends hurt worse anyway (one guy I knew for decades, vomited shit at me for two, maybe three days, because I wished him good day). I’ve tried, but “think and feel…beyond the gilded cage” always seems like the freedom to suck up to oneself. Also, I heard “the underlying theme” as “the underlying seed,” and I still like mine better. (Don’t know. Grow.)

“The Camera Eye”: The camera is the good guy! Jesus! It’s good to see stuff! (Also, the last time they went over ten minutes in the studio.)

“Witch Hunt”: This one goes out to the asshole who beat me up and shouted me down, over and over, throughout my grade school years and beyond. You couldn’t tell him anything. He was always right, and if you pointed out where he went wrong, he’d grab you in a headlock and start neck-punching with his free fist. Peart wrote these lyrics in the aggregate, and it’s scarier imagining a flock of (lyrics) rising up in deliberately-dumb lockstep (oh, wait, just click on CNN). But worth it to realize, all of those hordes consist of individuals (I won’t say souls). Each with a face. A story.

“Vital Signs”: You realize, of course, what happens when everybody elevates from the norm. But I guess they’re just optimists after all.

Endgame? We’ve scratched the silver ticket of The 21st Century and found no obliging jackpot. Ayn Rand’s notions got the dung ball rolling for our neo-Paleolithic Supreme Court. The vast and wide “Prog Archives” site uses math and stats I don’t understand (no news there) to judge Moving Pictures the 18th best prog album of all time–that’s just below Camel’s Moonmadness, just above Relayer by Yes. It became clear by Counterparts how Peart refuted Rand; I just wish I could read him saying it out loud.

The earth continues to heat.

I’ll keep doing this until I can’t.

Get right on through the friction…

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