Why I am a Rush Fan

I have done more than just let it slip that I am a Rush fan. In celebration of their new album coming out May 1st, and their summer tour to follow, I thought I might explain this strange admiration I have for a silly rock band.

I did not exactly grow up in the cultural center of the universe. Southern Idaho has few charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth. I had two local radio stations to choose from – one an easy listening station, and the other a top 40 station. I also didn’t have much money to buy music, nor older siblings to borrow or learn from. I didn’t have much interest in my parents music either. While I wasn’t passionate about music, I was a bit curious for something, but I was not sure what it was.

I listened to a lot of the top 40 stuff of the late 70’s/early 80’s, but knew most of it was pretty shallow and wouldn’t last. I was aware of hard rock music, and admittedly liked the intense, masculine sound. I knew the lyrics we often filthy, and the whole hard rock image did not appeal to me either. I thought it was a pity that the genre was a barren wasteland for wholesome entertainment.

That is where Ken came in. Ken was a friend of a friend. He was a very interesting person. He was cool but not popular. He seemed to know everything without being a know-it-all. He knew people. Ken had connections, and had a knack for solving about any kind of problem. His reserve was a quiet defense, riding out the day’s events. He was also a computer hacker of sorts.

In those days, being a computer hacker meant you had a Commodore 64 and knew how to use it. (The 64 stood for 64K – an immense amount of RAM). ‘Hacking’ basically consisted of finding ways to get around the copy protection of game software and thus providing yourself and others with pirated software. Other than this weakness, Ken seemed to have a reasonable moral compass – for the situation he was in.

Ken was the only son of a single mother. At least I think he was. Some of the details of his life are a bit sketchy. I only went to his home one time. I was tagging along with my friend who wanted to try out a new computer game. Ken seemed to have the basement of the house all to himself, and while they played their game I looked around. There was a lot of clutter, a weight set, posters one might expect of a teenage boy without much supervision, the 64 connected to a cheap TV, and a stereo with a record collection.

I was flipping through the records, looking at the cover art of Iron Maiden, Dio, AC/DC, KISS, etc. Ken looked over at me, and with a sly smile, asked if I liked that kind of music. I had the reputation of being a bit of a goodie-goodie, and he probably thought it was amusing to see me flipping through his albums. I told him I liked the music, but could do without the rotten lyrics and stuff. His smile became more sincere and he said, ‘I know what YOU would like!’ He quickly found a cassette and tossed it to me. It was the Rush 2112 tape. I thanked him for letting me borrow it and stuck it in my coat pocket.

I put the cassette in my tape player when I got home. From the first few moments of the album I could not believe my ears. How could there be music like this out there, without me being aware of it? How were these guys not the most popular band in history?

Listen to my music,

And hear what it can do.

There’s something here that’s as strong as life,

I know that it will please you.

I could not wait to share this new wonder. I played some of it for my brother who was probably about 9. He probably wasn’t ready. We had an exchange student from Singapore staying with us who was my age so I played it for him. He kind of liked the synthesizers, but was not blown away. I tried to interest some of my friends at school, but they didn’t seem to get it. I didn’t care. I was hooked. For the next few years of my life I would save up money and buy a Rush tape, memorize it, and then buy another one. By the time I left for my mission I had everything they had released – which is more impressive than it may sound. They had a lot of albums even then.

For much of my life I felt as if I was the only Rush fan in the world, but have lately found that there are a lot more of us than one might expect. The group is still going strong, although they are slowing down a bit. But they won’t exactly be playing county fairs on their tour.

With Rush I get good, clean, masculine, rock and roll without the bad stuff. The musicianship is out of this world, and the lyrics are intelligent and meaningful. I’m 40 years old, and I still follow my favorite rock band. The more I find out about them the more I like them. How many rock bands can you say that about?

I am buying their album on May 1st, and hope to see them when they come to the Chicago area. I am a middle-aged, conservative, Mormon, engineer, husband and father of four, and I can’t wait for the release of a CD from a rock band, and to see them live in concert.

Ken was right.

41 Responses to “Why I am a Rush Fan”

  1. 2 Naiah April 4, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Somehwere along the line over the last year, I up and found myself a Rush fan, too (due not in small part to Eric’s occasional lyric-dropping here and at B of J…). Once upon a time, I thought I hated Rush’s sound, but that was back in the days of Geddy Lee’s falsetto phase. I love what he’s doing with his voice now, and the music–oh man…XXY is probably my favorite song ever, regardless of band. I love the version on Rush in Rio. I am in utter awe of Neal Peart’s insight, writing, and well, just his life and outlook. I haven’t yet let him pull me in to Ayn Rand’s books, but maybe someday…

    I’m catching the tour in Seattle (already bought tickets!), and May 1st I’ll be pickign up the new album, as well. The single that’s up on the site (far cry)is just transcendental. The intro’s a bit clunky, but man it takes off from there and soars…


    I hope having a chick chime in doesn’t spoil that “good, clean, masculine” feel about it all. I’m a bit of a tomboy anyway (grew up in a all-guy household except for me).

    Their music is utterly intoxicating–their lyrics no less so.

  2. 3 Geoff J April 4, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Nice Eric. I remember listening to my older brother’s copy of 2112 as a kid in the 70s and being really impressed with it. My favorite part was that thrashing song from the priests of “The Temples of Syrinx”. (I think he had the LP but it might have been an 8-track.)

    Them’s some good memories…

  3. 4 Naiah April 4, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Hahaha, I totally typed XXY! I didn’t mean to. It’s joke about the male/female appeal of Rush, that, having crossed into ‘enemy territory’ no longer applies to me…For those who don’t know, it should read YYZ…


  4. 5 John Dehlin April 4, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Rush rules. 2112 all the way.

  5. 6 Rusty April 5, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Dude, I read the title of the post and thought you were admitting to liking Rush Limbaugh. I’m glad you like the band Rush but even more glad that this isn’t a post about your love for Limbaugh.

  6. 7 Eric Nielson April 5, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Susan and John:

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m glad you agree.


    xxy. sheesh. :). But YYZ on the Rush in Rio DVD was amazing. Seeing 40,000 Brazilians jumping up and down and ‘singing’ to this instrumental was enough to make one want to be a rock star!

    Having you become a fan of this band makes me feel a little less silly about it.


    I like that song quite a bit too. There is an interesting story about 2112. Rush had had some success prior to that album, and the record company brought in some consultants to help the boys get to the next level of FM radio popularity. They told them to keep their songs short with the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus pattern, and to tone down the sci-fi/fantasy lyrics. The result? Exactly the opposite, and one of the more successful rock albums ever.


    I don’t like Rush Limbaugh much. He is far to liberal and self promoting.

  7. 8 Drew April 5, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Rock on.

    At first I thought you were confessing your love for Rush Limbaugh. I am glad to know this is not the case!

  8. 9 Eric Nielson April 5, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks Drew.

    Actually Rush is a fairly conservative group politically speaking.

  9. 10 Chris H. April 5, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    I have always viewed them as quite liberal and philosophical. Either way they are very much the thinking man’s hard rock. The radio stations are better in SE Idaho now, though still rather basic.

    I am more of a 1970’s Rush fan. much of there 80’s and 90’s stuff did not do it for me. My favorite RUSH CD has is a 1970’s concert in London.

    Working Man and Trees are probably my favorites.

  10. 11 Eric Nielson April 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Well, they are quite philosophical. But is ‘The Trees’ not a clear criticism of labor unions?

    BCC recently had a post which had a link to the 50 greateds conservative rock songs, and I believe three Rush songs made the list. The BCC post is here.

    Many have said that one of the main lyrical influences is the books of Ayn Rand whose philosophical ‘objectivism’ weems quite conservative to me.

    Any rate, thanks for the post and a little update from Rexburg. I understand it is growing like a weed.

  11. 12 Anne Boyack April 6, 2007 at 12:25 am

    My favorite album of all time is Rush’s “Exit Stage Left.” I have Fly By Night, 2112, Permanent Waves, and one or two others. Bet you didn’t know any of that!

  12. 13 Craig W. April 6, 2007 at 5:04 am

    I remember walking into a record store in the 70’s wanting to buy a new LP. I had no idea what I would buy. I stumbled onto Rush’s “Fly By Night” albumn and like the art work, so I bought it. (A technic that worked more than once.) Needless to say, I was hooked. Over the years I have enjoyed listening to their music and I agree that I prefer the latter vocal style of Geddy Lee. My favorite Rush songs, however, come from their first two albumns; “Working Man” and “In The End.” It is hard to top “Working Man” full blast in the car. Oh what a feeling!!

  13. 14 Eric Nielson April 6, 2007 at 8:28 am


    WHAT?! Does the rest of the family know? Maybe it runs in our blood.


    I know that feeling.

  14. 15 Mike April 7, 2007 at 2:38 am

    I became a Rush fan when they enjoyed some relative popularity during the Moving Pictures era but eventually purchased most of their albums (even Caress of Steel). I found that many repeated listenings of almost any Rush song revealed nuances and elements not noticed at first and therefore the songs stayed interesting. Many other rock/new wave/progressive/metal albums in my collection became unlistenable after the third or fourth time through.

    At 40 myself, Rush is about the only rock music I listen to with any frequency any more. I still love the synth era. I know a lot of people who beleive that synthesizers in rock music is unforgiveable but the 80s was a time of some real (ongoing) expirmentation for Rush particularly the complex time changes. My minimal musical training prevents me from discussing this intelligently.

    I have moved about a bit over the years, and I always find one or two Rush fans here and there. While there aren’t hoards of Rush fans they are finely distributed through the country. If I may make an observation the Rush fans I know seem to generally have had some formal musical training and recognize virtuosity when they hear it. Thus they get it. Others are drawn to the intelligent lyrics. Peart is no dry mormon and seems frankly agnostic at times or happily vague and over-inclusive regarding spiritualities. But he isn’t afraid to draw from his wide reading and explore relationships, politics, culture, society, in an adult and low key intellectual manner.

    Alwyas nice to happen upon a mature Rush fan.

  15. 16 Eric Nielson April 9, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Thanks Mike.

    You are right about multiple listenings. I have sometimes heard that even for seasoned Rush fans it takes them a few listenings to ‘get it’.

  16. 17 Chris Bigelow April 9, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    I’m another 40-year-old Rush fan, checking in. I got into Rush in junior high school (late 1970s, Bountiful, Utah) with “Spirit of Radio,” thanks to Rock 103.5. I believe “Permanent Waves” was included in my first shipment from the Columbia House record club, and it promptly became the soundtrack for my readings in fantasy and science fiction and my playing of Dungeons & Dragons.

    I soon filled in the complete back list of Rush albums, and one of my chief pleasures as a teen was stacking them all on the turntable. I remember joining the Rush fan club and receiving a newsletter in which Neil Peart wrote about how the devil doesn’t really exist, which I didn’t quite buy into. (In fact, I could have sworn it was a lifetime membership, but I only got newsletters a few times…)

    When it comes to post-“Permanent Waves” stuff, I’m not so much a fan. I’m OK with “Moving Pictures,” but I definitely fall off the bandwagon with “Signals,” and I don’t keep any “Signals”-onward Rush albums in my collection, although I did listen to “Roll the Bones” and “Counterparts” quite a bit for a while–but they didn’t last for me. But “Permanent Waves” and earlier, I’m still all over all of those. Long live By-Tor!

    As far as live shows, I saw them on the “Signals” tour back in 1983 or ’84 and again when they came through Salt Lake within the past five years–you know, their first tour after Peart’s long time off, the “Evening with Rush” when they played the entirety of 2112. Fantastic! I would love to go see them at the Usana ampitheater this August if any of my old geek friends come out of the woodwork, but I’m not going to pursue it too hard.

    There’s something similar about being a Mormon and being a Rush fan. You feel a little geeky and lots of others don’t take you seriously–including much of the national establishment–but there’s a real community of true believers. The Beatles are Catholic, Led Zep is Protestant, and Rush is sort of a little independent side note… But I’d have to say that no other group made a bigger impact on my life, and I say these things humbly, amen.

  17. 18 Eric Nielson April 9, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Amen Chris. Thanks for your comment. The synthesizer era was my least favorite. It seems that they are getting back to a more ‘organic’ guitar driven sound, which I like.

  18. 19 Kevin April 21, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    I am that 9 year old boy that you introduced to Rush 25 years ago. I remember you playing it for me in the room that we shared. You played it on your cool Radio Shack stereo with the “super slow eject” cassette. It was sweet at the time. You were right, I wasn’t ready for it, but I think it did have an impact on me.

    This music you were listening to at the time was so different from the classical music that our parents were listening to on those long trips to Blackfoot in our Volkswagon van. I am not a huge Rush fan, but I do like some of there top hits that they still play on the hard rock stations. Looking back, I beleive that by the time you left on your mission I was 13 years old and starting to explore music and I had heard your music, (Rush), several times. Like many younger siblings, I wanted to take things a step further than my older siblings. I wanted music that was a little harder and a little louder. Well I was in luck. Along came 80’s hair bands! I was in heaven. Oh yea, I even grew a mullet! I am a 34 year old blue collar worker. Even today I am suprised how powerful your personal favorite music is in your life. I am not one to buy albums or collect music, but everyday at work I listen to a rock and roll radio station and get pumped up and I have alot of memories of growing up. A couple of times each day there is a Rush song in there too.
    In conclusion, I don’t share the same love for Rush as you do, but I do have a love for Rock and Roll. Music is a very powerful influence in our lives and if you love Rush then I’m happy for you. I still love my hairbands even though my hair is gone.

  19. 20 Eric Nielson April 22, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks Kevin. I didn’t know if you ever read this thing or not. Slow eject cassette decks were so cool. A clear symbol of quality. Just to date myself, that stereo had an 8-track player and a turntable as well.

  20. 21 Sean Peterson April 27, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    AHHH! I guess it’s been a while since I checked out your blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw that you had written and article about Rush! I think I’m probably the only person who might be more excited for “Snakes & Arrows” to come out than you are. 😉

    And what do you mean by “silly rock band”! Aside from their occasionally silly sense of humor, let’s face it, they are the best band around, and for a lot of reasons.

    And hey, while I’m thinking about it, I’ve got an interesting article to send you via email. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about it.

    Keep up the great posts.

  21. 22 Eric Nielson April 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks Sean. Just a couple of days now.

    By silly rock band I mean that being a 40 year old fan of a rock band is kind of silly. They are clearly the best.

    I’ll look forward to the article. Don’t be such a stranger.

  22. 23 Brian April 30, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Nice to see other LDS RUSH fans on the Web. I didn’t get to start listening to RUSH until college. My well-meaning folks believed (and probably still believe) all the “satanic rock band” hype where any 4 letter band name was secret satanic acronym. (KISS=Knights in Satan’s Service, AC-DC = Anti-Christ Devil’s Children, and RUSH = Rise Up Satan’s Helpers). No Kidding.

    I first heard RUSH in a friend’s basement when I was around 14. He played Tom Sawyer on Vinly and I went “oooooh.” Then I felt guilty and didn’t want to be Satan’s Helper. So back to the Carpenters and Glen Campbell.

    Finally college and a little independence rolled around and there was no stopping me from buying all their albums. Thought provoking, toe tapping, and clean (well, mabybe A Passage to Bangkok excepted). I’m really looking forward to Snakes and Arrows, though if you caught the radio premier, it’s obvious Neil is not a fan of door to door missionaries 🙂 Hopefully some store in rural Southeast Idaho will have it tomorrow.

    Thanks for the article. It’s nice to have company. Maybe I’ll try to sneak some lyrics in my next sacrament meeting talk and see if anyone perks up.

  23. 24 Eric Nielson May 1, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Thanks Brian. I believe the album is out today.

  24. 25 Sean Peterson May 11, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    OK. I admit it. I will categorically state my opinion that “Snakes & Arrows” is the best work that Rush has ever produced. And I don’t say that lightly. It has taken me 10 days to soak it all in, which is not unusual. In almost every case when a new Rush album comes out, my initial reaction is to HATE it! Why? Because they have a knack for doing things differently with each new album.

    Ironically, this is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so much. Permanent Waves was my first intro to Rush, and each new album since then was just a bit too different for me at first listen. But then after about the 4th time through I really start to like it. I think Power Windows was the only exception, where I really liked it the first time through.

    Anyway, S&N was no different for me. First listen – “What the #&!! have they done to themselves now?!” I guess it just takes a while to appreciate all the intricate details of their music. And now – “Wow!” Can’t get enough of it. It has become… “my prresheousss…” Help! I’m a Rush Junkie!!!

  25. 26 Eric Nielson May 11, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I usually go through the same trend, although hate is to strong for my usual initial reaction. A tad disappointed is my usual reaction to a new Rush album.

    For me this was different. Far Cry blew me away from the first, and I want to proclaim it a best ever song by the boys. Tracks 2 and 3 were okay for me, but on the lower range of the album. Track 4 (The Larger Bowl) was such a fun and unique song to me. The instrumentals (other than Hope) really rock. Oh my gosh they are good. Bravest face is ‘precious’. I also like hearing Alex go wild on the last track – Hold on.

    I liked this one right out of the box.

  26. 27 Sean Peterson May 14, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I agree with tracks 1, 2 & 3. Though track 2 is now among my favorites. It took me a while, but I get the shear brilliance of it now.

    The Larger Bowl was very fun, I agree. It could easily be on the radio with all the other pop-ish music, but of course, with much more depth than most.

    Spindrift is probably my favorite one to listen to. And I DID hate it the first time I heard it. Call me extreme and edgy I guess.

    Bravest Face struck a very deep chord in me, and is the one I give the highest rank to. This song describes the very thought process I have applied many, many times in my life in a variety of situations. I could write a book on it.

    I agree about the instrumentals. I loved the fact that Malignant Narcisism (sp?) was done on a 4 piece drum kit. And I declare The Main Monkey Business their best-ever instrumental.

    I’ll have to give We Hold On another listen after your comment. I thought it was OK, but you’ve given me a new perspective. I had a similar reaction with Out Of The Cradle from VT. It’s one of my favorites from that album now.

  27. 28 Brian May 16, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Fabulous album. I think Armor and Sword one of the best songs they have ever done. Workin’ Them Angels sounds like one of their “classic Rush” songs to my ear and could fit into an album like Moving pictures. There are lots of really memorable musical hooks and moments. I couldn’t get The Larger Bowl out of my head for several days.

    Whoever convinced the band to (1) get in the studio and play TOGETHER and (2) get Alex back on the acoustic guitar should be thanked. Not sure where it ranks on the fave album list, but it’s up there.

  28. 29 Eric Nielson May 16, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I agree Brian. The album is fabulous!

  29. 30 Mark Hansen May 20, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve grown up listening to and loving Rush. The first song I ever learned on bass was Bastille Day. When I could play “The Trees” on the guitar I was thrilled.

    I’ve loved that their lyrics are clean, by and large. But there is a strong undercurrent of secular humanism throughout. Peart clearly doesn’t believe in God, at least not as organized religion sees Him. But then, frankly, we Mormons don’t look at God the same way as most organized religions do, either.

    I think, overall, my favorite Rush album is “Counterparts”. Some real thinkin’ man’s rock in there!


  30. 31 Eric Nielson May 21, 2007 at 7:23 am

    Thanks Mark!

    I think you are right about Neil’s atheist slant (or perhaps agnostic). But I cut his some slack, not really knowing of the restored gospel. He seems to have done well with what he has been given in life.

    I like counterparts also.

  31. 32 Keith Engwall June 25, 2007 at 12:10 pm


    I stumbled across this through a google search on Rush albums. What you said really struck a chord with me. I’ve long had great appreciation of the musicianship of Rush, as well as for the thoughtfulness and sincerity of the lyrics. I grew up in the 70’s, and even as a pre-teen, I was drawn to the story-telling aspects of songs like Tom Sawyer on the radio. When I was in high school, I heard Mystic Rhythms on a late-night headphones only radio show, and I was completely blown away. I bought Power Windows the next day and many a summer night after that was spent looking up at the stars listening to that song. Through college, I started going back over the rest of their albums, and I spent more time pouring over their lyrics and listening to their arrangements than any other band.

    I initially had a tough time with the anti-religious themes of some of the music, but have come to peace with it mostly due to the fact that Peart’s issues with religion have mostly to do with the way in which social evils are perpetrated in the name of religion. He and I may differ in whether or not these social evils are a natural by-product of religion (he seems to think they are, I don’t), but I can honestly respect what he’s trying to say.

    In hindsight, I just really love the way these three guys work together to create incredible music. The new album is fantastic, and I just took my 8-year old son to see them in concert (his first rock concert), and what really struck me (beyond their jaw-dropping skill) is that these guys really enjoy each other and the fans and the music. After more than 30 years, these guys check their egos at the door and get together and create whatever’s meaningful to them at the time, regardless of the trends of the day. That really comes through in the performance. I don’t go to a lot of concerts, and 8 is a little young (we both wore heavy duty earplugs), but I was very excited to be sharing this experience with my son. I don’t think there are many other bands about whom I’d feel the same way.

  32. 33 Eric Nielson June 25, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Keith!

    I am taking my 14 year old when the boys hit Detroit. It will be his first real concert too. The crowds are usually more mature and well behaved than they are at typical rock concerts.

  33. 34 Brad Fullmer July 23, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    A ‘Mormon’ Rush fan…figured there’d be a couple out there. I’m ‘less-active’ LDS – a 40-year-old lifelong SLC native who served a mission in ’89-’91 to Missouri, but haven’t been very involved with church activities since. I still believe the majority of LDS doctine is true, I just personally think the history of the church isn’t quite as squeaky-clean as they portray. But that’s here nor there in this blog.
    I stumbled onto Rush Nov. ’85 when I came home from college during T-Giving break and my little bro had Power Windows. I listened, was intrigued, and immediately went to the local record shop and bought (at the sales person’s request) 2112. End of story…instant lifetime fan. Amazing how certain artists/musicians have that pull/attraction. I like music that makes me think….

  34. 35 Eric Nielson July 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks Brad. That is all it takes for some of us to get hooked!

  35. 36 Naiah February 13, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    You know the boys extended the S&A tour on through this summer and they’re hitting the same citites but different venues…I forget, did you actually make it last year (that whole time frame is a little fogy in my memroy from the surgery and stuff) Well, if not–you’ve got a second chance!

  36. 37 Eric Nielson February 13, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Yes, My olderst son and I saw them in Detroit at DTE. And yeah, I saw they are making the rounds again. I kinda want to take my wife but I kinda don’t. She doesn’t like things loud, and I am afraid they would blow her out of the building.

  37. 38 Darryl February 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Wow, what a nice discovery this entry is.

    I am a lifelong Rush fan (since 13yrs of age). First heard them when a friend brought over a red vinyl copy of Hemispheres….hard to describe my amazement at the auditory adventure I was sent on.

    Not an LDS dude, actually I’m a Unitarian Universalist. I’m a seeker who distrusts creeds and most doctrine but I have all the time in the world for people of all faiths (or lack thereof).

    Greetings from Ottawa Canada.

    Oh yeah, Canada says “you;re welcome” for hatching Rush into the world at large lol.

  38. 39 Eric Nielson February 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm


    Thanks a lot. Rush is amazing.

    I would imagine that Unitarian Universalists might have more in common with Mormons than most people realize – although that is just ahunch.

  39. 40 Ten April 30, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I did this at a Tool concert at the Verizon and we had a liberty activist wit tickets at http://www.ticketsinventory.com to the show do that.

  1. 1 Rush xxy | Sickfightgear Trackback on September 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

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