If you’ve known me for long, you know that I really, really like the band Rush. Of the handful of arena shows I’ve been to, Rush has been the most frequent. I have all their studio albums, a stack of T-shirts, concert videos and a documentary or two. To say I am a fanatic is an understatement.
This week, among my internet friends and some sites I frequent, I’ve seen references to a lot of Rush stuff. A lot. Their current concert tour. A friend’s overview of their show this week in Dallas. An intimate interview with the band on Canada’s “Studio Q“. An interview with CNN before a show.Â The full-blown documentary of the band released earlier this year. And in the news today is an article on the new Guitar Hero video game featuring the entire “2112” suite (all 21 minutes), required to unlock a “Demi-God” to slay “The Beast” during the game’s Quest mode (how cool is that?). That’s a lot of Rush news.
These guys have been going at their thing for 40 years now, and that’s a huge achievement. But during most of that time, they’ve toiled in some level of obscurity. They have a gaggle of radio-friendly hits, but by and large their musical and lyrical content borders the fringe of what the mass culture is willing to accept. The main consumers of Rush music are the nerdier ones among us. That’s been the joke for a long while, but every joke has a thread of truth.
So, if they’ve been in the fringe for so long, enjoyed mostly by those who get their jollies on the weirder stuff, then why all the sudden press from the band?
Ah, yes, the press. Ever notice when disparate threads come together in your head and tie themselves together into a larger narrative? All the talk of the band this week reached a critical mass with me where it confessed the story of a band propelled back into the Limelight by a very skilled public relations firm whose sole job is to reestablish, in the public’s mind, the importance of their works and their worth to rock music at large.
I don’t need convincing, but apparently more outside people do. I can’t begrudge them that. If the Rolling Stones can keep going, selling out stadiums for more than $100 a pop (cheap seats), if U2 can still make an impact and elevate the people lucky enough to get a ticket to a show before it sells out in an hour, then why should Rush languish in the shadow? It’s noteworthy that the band even referenced these and other bands in their interviews, tying themselves and their career to the cannon of rock-and-roll. It’s a clever play.
The members have a certain level of humility in their interviews, and it’s somewhat refreshing to see a band of their caliber have that. But there’s also a subtle subtext of seeking recognition, of increasing the brand awareness, of getting the rewards they merit by sticking to it for so long. Of a band making a push to rocket into the stratosphere where the rock gods live. Of going out in a blaze of glory.
Our better natures seek elevation.
A refuge for the coming night.
No one gets to their heaven without a fight.