Among the bands I hated listening to in high school was RUSH. I just couldn’t get beyond Getty Lee’s voice, which to me was the vocal equivalent of listening to fingernails on chalkboard. This is harsh to say, but much like a stubborn bias, I just couldn’t hear past Getty’s voice to discover the totality of RUSH’s music.
Decades later, I’d rediscover RUSH. I credit this to learning that I had a few things in common with RUSH’s drummer Neil Peart. Other than being one of the greatest drummers of all time, Neil’s also written seven books, was a wanderer, and had more than his share of tragedy.
I first heard about his tragedies by reading lines from one of his books called Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. In this memoir Neil tries to reconcile the death of his daughter and wife, who passed away under different circumstances, in the span of less than a year. In Ghost Rider Neil sets out on a multi-country motorcycle journey in which he tries to make sense of his loss and find the strength to keep driving—and living—for another day.
I also learned Neil wrote the lyrics for the band’s songs. This is a very odd thing for a drummer to do. This just doesn’t happen. Which explains why I always thought the lyrics to RUSH’s songs were heady and spiritually channelled. It also explains why it was difficult for me to appreciate the poetry to Neil’s lyrics due to how Getty articulated them.
This kind of thing happens in life
You may have noticed I’ve yet to mention the third gun of this rock and roll trio, Alex Lifeson. He’s the guitarist, and similar to Getty has composed many of RUSH’s hit songs.
Alex doesn’t figure much into my post here though, except to say that some people just don’t get the credit or attention they deserve. And Alex seems to fit into this category.
Case in point—I once heard Getty telling a story about how he and Alex were sitting in a diner one day when a fan came up and pleaded for Getty’s autograph. After signing his name, Getty asks the fan if she’d also like to have Alex’s signature too. Whereupon she says something to the effect that she doesn’t have a clue who Alex is.
This kind of thing happens a lot in life. Some people who should get noticed never get noticed. Even more puzzling . . . some people who should never be noticed are the very ones who are often the most admired.
As far as the level of musicianship exhibited by Alex Lifeson, Getty Lee and Neil Peart they are all phenomenal players. One just doesn’t get to their level of fame and longevity without being a bonafide master of their craft.
Are the players of the band RUSH atheists?
Judging from this old video interview featuring Getty Lee, he says he’s not a religious person. But he does go on to say that he was raised in a “very strict religious family” which, “killed any love for religion that I could have possibly had.”
And in this Freedom from Religion Foundation article you’ll discover insight that hints at Neil’s level of religiosity. The article quotes him as saying . . .
“I’m a linear thinking agnostic, but not an atheist, folks.” Neil Peart
As to whether Alex is an atheist, I couldn’t find any evidence of this fact. But I sure enjoyed his heartfelt tribute to Neil in this following video.
Whether the members of the band are atheists or agnostics is irrelevant. One’s spiritual journey is a personal one, and I feel no need to label them as either atheists or agnostics. I recognize there are many celebrity lists featuring atheists which have been compiled, and atheists tend to use these lists to prove how the brightest and most talented among us are all secret closest atheists. But perhaps it’s time to file that foolishness away.
I’m certain, however, that all three members of RUSH are/were freethinkers. (Neil Peart passed away on January 7, 2020.) At least this is what I glean from their music. For one thing, RUSH does not do gospel. Rock and roll as a genre is not well-accepted among the faithful as being either “heavenly” or “divine.” This is not just a matter of personal taste. Rock and roll has long been equated as the devil’s music. (And I’d sure be curious to know how religious folk learned what kind of music the devil likes.)
What makes RUSH a freethinker’s band
What makes me classify RUSH’s music as advocating freethinking ideals has more to do with the kind of lyrics Neil wrote. His verses and choruses were oftentimes politically supercharged, touched on environmental issues, tackled formidable humanitarian challenges, and touched on spiritual dynamics such as the “oneness” of the human race.
We are all in this together, is the message I hear now when I listen to RUSH’s music. As a species we must work together and build a better world. These are not RUSH’s words, but my own thoughts, which I’ve gleaned from listening to their form of art.
For further viewing . . .