Rush vs. hockey: Hard to say which is Canada’s greatest import?

April 21, 2011 | Nestor Aparicio

greatly as I age along with the band – in the good times and the bad.

No one sounds like Rush. They’re so unique and no one has ever even tried to successfully copy or mimic the sound of the Toronto trio.

Being a Rush fan is like having your own language. The songs, the words, the passion of the lyrics and sounds all so familiar me or anyone who has listened for 30 years but to many their early work still sounds like cats fighting in an alley. My wife, while tolerant, seems to think it’s an acquired taste and it probably is.

But it’s like a little God-sent gift, these late-autumn nights in their careers in arenas with hardcore fans and with the boys from Willowdale, who are pushing 60 while still pushing the musical envelope with relevant music and incredibly self-effacing charm and humor. The videos that accompany their shows are little masterpieces onto themselves as the versatile Canadian boys even have a penchant for acting.

Since this is generally a sports blog – and some of you are quite offended when my passions fall outside the lines of games that adults play for money – there’s also a major sports angle with Rush.

Actually, the whole Rush, hockey and baseball triangle of passion kind of intersects in strange ways. Every time I’ve ever chatted with Alex Lifeson, I’ve talked hockey and his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. Every time I’ve ever chatted with Geddy Lee, it’s been about baseball. And because Peart “can’t pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend,” I’ve never met him and that’s OK, too. (Even though I’m pretty sure he’s the most interesting one!)

But Rush took my journalism virginity and a phone interview with Geddy Lee was the first real byline I got at The News American. I still have the mini-cassette recording of our conversation but I can’t imagine how embarrassing the sound of that tape must be. I have it but I’ve never listened to it because I think I’d self-combust with embarrassment even in my own company. It’s unimaginable what a 15-year old Nestor must’ve said to Geddy Lee that day in 1984 when he called my parents’ house and our dogs were barking and my father was yelling at me like George Costanza’s father up the stairs in Dundalk.

(Swear to God, this is a true story…)

It’s a priceless tape, I’m sure. And one day I’ll go and bust out that tape and share it with you but I’m not sure I’m ready for it. And if I don’t get to comfortably bust on myself after listening to it, it’ll be unfair. I remember that I said something wretchedly “not nice” about Def Leppard but I honestly haven’t had the nerve to ever relive what I’m sure was the worst 15 minutes of Geddy Lee’s life.

If anyone were ever going to have a roast for me, that cassette tape would certainly have to be the centerpiece of the show.

But tomorrow night when the lights go down at 7:40 and the sounds of “Spirit of Radio” start echoing off the walls of the concert hall, I will once again be at peace doing something I’ve loved all of my life: spending another evening with three men who’ve always been there for me with great music to fill my days and I’m never alone or lonely when the sounds of Rush are coming out of a speaker.

It’s like going to my own personal church and it always makes me smile.

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Tomorrow, when they play one of my favorite songs, “Marathon,” there’s a little part of me that will again be inspired all over again by the lyrics I’ll leave you with:

“You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don’t burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you’ve got to last…”

And Rush has stood the test of time.

That inspires me to do the same.

 

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