Rush and the Passing of the “Golden Era”

Despite all the polls that dominate the Rush fan boards these days, I’m still thinking, and when it’s about Rush (and it’s not about how cool a given song/album/part was!) … it’s about the divide that I still place around Signals and P/G.

It’s not that the albums after Signals were lesser albums – you can find plenty of people who will say that HYF is their favorite album, and good for them, as long as it’s anything but Feedback, right?

But if you’re being serious, even those people who are heavy into the synth period or later would admit that Rush was made during the “golden era.”

Two things come from this:

  1. I wonder if Geddy ever preferred singing “Hey, baby, it’s a quarter to eight” to “Hit you in a soft place, a melody so sweet…”
  2. Did the songwriting being more introspective and poetic – driven by Peart having more freedom to write from his own perspective, as opposed to thinking “what would make a cool album for kids to buy?” change the perception of the music as a whole?

I listen to “My Favorite Headache” and Geddy’s words are a little more direct than Neil’s; I think there’s a lot of commonality, but Geddy’s lyrics have a different, more personal vibe than Neil’s writing. I can’t imagine Peart writing “Slipping,” or “Working at Perfekt,” for example… Peart wrote “Test for Echo” and Lee wrote “My Favorite Headache,” largely on the same topic. Honestly, the topic’s a little dead to me (although both are excellent songs) – if you really want to listen to an artist rant about television, check out Roger Waters’ “Amused to Death” on whatever free streaming service you can find. (Don’t send him money. It only encourages his anti-Israeli activity.) Waters is a much better ranter than Peart or Lee. Be happy with this.

But at the same time, watching video of Geddy after “A Show of Hands” and he kinda acts like he’s grinding through a lot of the post-Golden Era songs. The whole band is. It’s like “Okay, let’s play ‘Nobody’s Hero’ now.” They’re professionals so naturally they blow every song out of the water… but they look like it’s a job for them, where they’re each working with the guys they want to hang out with: an unpleasant job done with friends. Then they all come alive a little more (well, Lifeson and Lee do! Peart’s a machine behind the kit no matter what) for the older songs – the “Fly by Night” or “Red Barchetta” songs, you know – and the really new stuff (including stuff starting from “Vapor Trails.”)

I know it’s just my impression; chances are I’m reading body language on stage poorly, and the fact that they’re up there in the lights for hours makes a huge difference… but it’s still the impression I’m left with. I’m left wondering if Geddy didn’t prefer simpler, less intellectual songs sprinkled with intelligence, as opposed to mind-benders like “Anagram.”

What do you think?