Happy 2/1/12, Rush fans!

 

Today, You Shall
Inherit the Earth! Let’s listen to that entire 20-minute epic, below.


By Sarah Grant

 

Thousands of Rush
fans, possibly including the New York Times’ own Gail Collins, are
rolling out the prayer rugs today, in deference to the Holy Trinity of
progressive rock, Rush.

 

2112 is the name of, quite simply, the best concept
album ever created. Recorded in 1976, the album was Rush’s fourth studio album
and arguably, best work. The 20-minute epic song “2112” is rife with tonal
nuances, texture, and surprising combinations of hard rock and heavy metal
elements. The lyrics, written by sci-fi obsessed drummer/philosopher, Neil Peart, were based heavily on Ayn
Rand’s 1938 novella, Anthem. The song
is a like a libertarian future-fable set to music, about the pitfalls of
individualism in a conformist society.

 

 

 

The year 2112 is revealed as a dystopian universe, governed
by a totalitarian, Death Star-type assembly called the “Priests of Syrinx,” who
dictate what kinds of music can be heard, literature read, and art viewed (not like the SOPA bill, or anything…)

 

A young, unnamed hero (“The Starman” in Rush discourse)
finds an “ancient miracle” object: a guitar. He stumbles through soft, melodic
figurations, until he confidently comes to play major chords. Once adept, he
expresses himself exclusively through his own “invented” musical tones. During
a section called “Presentation,” he stands before a court of stalwart priests,
trying to convey the beauty of individual expression through Alex Lifeson’s
lilting rhythm and blues guitar solo. But the priests, identified by Geddy’s
Lee’s feral shrieks and intense riffs, don’t budge. They dismiss the guitar as
“a waste of time and a silly whim.”

 

Our failed Orpheus reflects on his “cold and empty life,” as
his/Lifeson’s once major chords wither into smoky minor notes. At the end of
his “Soliloquy,” he commits suicide. The instrumental transition reprises the
heavy metal priests and the song ends in violent distortion. Lee’s deadpan
repetitions reinforce the consuming chaos of the oppressive regime, like an
empire of Kubrick’s droogs, cackling through the demonic swells of Beethoven’s
Fifth Symphony. 

 

Celebrating “2112” on 2/1/12 is a little like showing up to
a party 100 years early. But the themes of this prog rock powerhouse are
prescient today, as they were thirty-five years ago. Our society is facing
rapid changes in the way we share information, which will impact our means and
modes of expression in the future. Rush and their compassionate, unyielding fans
may be the best equipped to confront the threat of oppression, devastation and
tyranny. After all, they face all those things year after year with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committee.

 

Make sure to catch
Rush on tour in 2012…

 

 

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