Monday, March 26, 2007

The Professor On The Drum Kit

Another excellent read is Roadshow: Landscape With Drums - A Concert Tour By Motorcycle, the latest book of travel writing by Neil Peart, the drummer of Rush. His fourth book, this one chronicles (pun intended, though rather esoteric) the R30 tour, the grand traveling extravaganza undertaken by the band a few years back to celebrate thirty years of the existence of Rush. Neil did virtually all of his traveling on the tour by motorcycle (except for the traveling that had to be done over water), and the reportage is excellent - so is the information about the concerts and the little snippets he throws in from time to time about some of the songs.

As I say, this is his fourth book; of the others, I have read one, the second - Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road, his, ahem, chronicle, of the time he spent traveling on his motorcycle after the nearly back-to-back deaths of his only daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Born partly of this effort was the band's most recent studio album, Vapor Trails, and the book reads almost like an owner's manual for that album. The album is perfectly enjoyable on its own, but if you read the book, the album really opens up.

His books - at least the two I have read - are peppered throughout with his wry sense of humor, and there are two recurring themes in this book that bring almost non-stop humor, at least for me. One of these is the church signs. Peart is not an especially religious person, having been deeply affected by the philosophy of Ayn Rand - the band's song "2112" is a musical interpretation of Rand's second novel, Anthem, and their song "Freewill" is a short treatment on her philosophy concerning religion - and his amusing commentary on these kinds of signs, nearly all of them posted by the "true believers," as I call them, is quite refreshing.

Examples, you say? Well, all right:

From North Carolina: "To Prevent Eternal Burning, Use SON Block"
Rural Illinois: "Forbidden Fruits Cause Many Jams"
Michigan: "Faith Is A Higher Faculty Than Reason"
Western Missouri: "If God Had A Wallet, Your Picture Would Be In It"
Dallas/Fort Worth Area: "No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace."

And on and on. The Michigan one is the saddest. What a monumental error. Anyway, sunnier things - the second recurring theme laced with humor: the corporate names on concert venues. I loved this one! Straight out of Neil's mouth, from page 88, referring to the first venue the band played on the R30 tour:

"It now wore a corporate name instead, in the twenty-first century fashion of selling companies the right to put their name on entertainment venues. But they will get no free advertising from me. I'll call it the Financial Services Corporation Amphitheater."

Cellular Telephone Network Amphitheater (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Local Newspaper Amphitheater (west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Import Auto Dealer Amphitheater (Columbus, Ohio)
Consumer Electronics Chain Amphitheater (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)

And on and on - again. Great book - highly recommended. The band's new album Snakes & Arrows is due on May 1st. The first single, "Far Cry," can be heard on Q95, probably with some small amount of regularity between now and when the album comes out, though I have only heard it once so far.


Last King of SCOOTland said...

you'll laugh at this John-O but the other night Melonna and I were in Barnes and Nobles down here and I glanced at one of the display tables and saw this very book. We were in a hurry and I was looking for the ESPN the Magazine's guide to the NFL draft (I know, I know. Is the a 12 step program for preview mag addiction?), so I didn't stop to look at it or anything but I thought to myself that it would be kinda cool if that book was by Neil. (BTW, I now have all three of their names permenantly burned into my psyche thanks to you - Alex Lifeson and Gedy Lee - just in case you were wondering, although the spelling may not be right). Anyways, as it turns out, it is. OK, maybe you won't laugh. In retrospect it is kind of a lame tale, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

Scoot out

John Peddie said...

I suspect you're not the only one upon whom I have had that effect - permanent psyche burning of Rush, that is.

I saw that ESPN preview book on the draft. Are those books any good? I didn't care for Athlon's NFL book last year, but it's so hard to pass up, because it comes out so much sooner than the Sporting News version. Maybe the ESPN book is good, too, and will come out before Athlon...

John Peddie said...

Also, you nailed their names, except for missing a D in Geddy - which, by the way, would clearly be my kid's name if it weren't for my damned goofy-ass last name. Can you imagine a kid growing up with that kind of torment?

Last King of SCOOTland said...

Yeah, the ESPN magazine was good. Only problem with the draft stuff is that after the 15 or so people you know, the rest of the book is about the linebacker from Kutztown State. I got it because I had nothing else to read and I was bored. As for Athlon vs. Sporting News, I am slowly starting to shift to Sporting News. I got both of their baseball previews and teh SN's was much more in depth. I still like Athlon, for the moment, but that is slowly changing.

Oh, and yes, the name thing would be incredibly cruel. That is, unless, he turned into some really famous guy or something.