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I was completely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of my hero today. I don't use the term hero flippantly. Neil Peart was and is my hero. That said, I was a bit confused to notice how affected I was to hear of his passing. It really threw a curveball into my day and after much reflection I have a sense as to why. As a 10 year old kid who always felt different to other boys my age the lyrics of Neil Peart had a profound effect on me. I was a sensitive kid who had just moved from small town Canada to a big city in Virginia and I felt somewhat ungrounded. While I had always loved music it was then that I really started to dive into lyrics and connect with all elements of the songs I was listening to. Discovering Rush was a huge moment in my life. It seemed mind-blowing to me that a trio of musicians could create so much depth and breadth of sound and own their instruments to such a degree. It was Neil's lyrics though that touched a nerve that hadn't been touched before. In a world of toxic masculinity it was both surprising and refreshing to read lyrics about things that were considered stupid or dramatic by many others. This was the first time I saw someone put on paper and with such energy, the things that I was concerned with. Things like the environment, corporate power, the superficiality of many relationships, racism, war, genocide, misogyny and the importance of self. Mind blowing realizations about myself and the world I lived it were in constant flow. To have my feelings and concerns reflected back to me in such an articulate way, and through the delivery method of progressive rock music, was a gift of epic proportions. It was an irony playing out in my daily existence, keeping things light and safe and playing my part by day, then at night coming home and busting out of my shell in my room alone with my nerdy vinyl friend. These were my formative years and I was being molded by a man who was a rockstar by profession but in truth always just wanted to blend into the background and nurture his own soul. Today I am grateful for the man that I am. The lyrics of Neil Peart played a huge part in contributing to the acceptance and gratitude I have for who I am today. He helped me find the confidence to just be who I was and not worry about what other people think. I spent many years trying to convince friends and strangers what an amazing band Rush was. Later in life I began to change my mindset and love the fact that it was just me and them. I still listen to Rush almost daily. Neil's lyrics still have a profound effect on me today. Every time I listen I hear something new and I often hear exactly what I need to hear. I lost a dear friend today. It doesn't matter that I never met him or that millions of fans might feel the same way. It's real, and meaningful. Rest In Peace buddy.