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Entre finally shares his RUSH ESSAY (4000 words +abstract)


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Welp folks, now that I have my diploma from the IB and there's no way they can take that away from me, and armed with the ignorance of whether or not they'd allow this, I present to you my 4000 word essay on Rush's 2112, plus a 200+ word abstract. Also, missing here is the title page, which contained a bunch of info that might be useless to you, except for a small dedication. The dedication reads as follows:


"Dedicated to my father, who first shared with me the wonder that is Rush"


Thanks Dad.


Anyway, here's the essay...copy pasted from Pages on my iPad (forgive the rough formatting)





This investigation answers the following research question: how have the lyrics and symbols presented on Rush's 1976 album, 2112, consistently affected various generations of listeners strongly enough to induct them into the band's massive fan-base? The scope of this question, though large, is adequately pared-down to fit the intended scope of this investigation, which is not to exceed 4,000 words. Though literary analysis is included in this investigation as it attempts to discover meaning in the lyrics and symbols of 2112, a close reading or close analysis of the text is avoided due to the potentially excessive length of such an analysis. It is sufficiently supplanted with critical and personal analysis for the purposes of this investigation, which focuses not just on the meaning of the text, but also on its cultural context and lasting impact on the history of North American rock music. For research materials, this investigation utilizes various secondary sources in the forms of Internet articles, analytical books, and film documentaries mostly centered on the story of Rush. It also makes use of two primary sources: a used vinyl record of Rush's 2112 album and an Internet survey conducted by the author of this investigation on a popular Rush fan-site. The conclusion reached by this investigation is that the lyrics and symbols of Rush's 2112 have affected various generations of listeners strongly enough to induct them into Rush's fan-base 1) through universal message and appeal, 2) through initial success and influence, and 3) through direction of the album's music.




Word count: 256


Table of Contents

Abstract pg. 1

Table of Contents pg. 2

Introduction pg. 3

Background of Rush and 2112 pg. 5

Analysis of the 2112 Concept pg. 7

Analyzing the Real-World Success and Influence of 2112 pg. 11

Conclusion pg. 14

Works Cited pg. 16



Rush is a Canadian progressive rock band which began as a small garage band in Toronto during 1968 and gradually garnered international acclaim and success over the course of the next forty-eight years, becoming one of the most popular rock bands of all time. Between the release of Rush's self-titled debut album in 1974 and the conclusion of the band's fortieth anniversary R40 Tour in 2015, Rush has experienced only one major lineup change and one five-year hiatus, a rare feat for a rock band from the late sixties and early seventies. Much of the reason for the band's lasting success has been it's enormous and fiercely dedicated fan-base, which first took on these characteristics following the release of Rush's seminal fourth album, entitled 2112. This essay attempts to answer the following research question: how have the lyrics and symbols presented on Rush's 1976 album, 2112, consistently affected various generations of listeners strongly enough to induct them into the band's massive fan-base?

This topic is worthy of investigation because the success story of Rush is highly unusual for a rock band of its time period, Rush's fan-base is both unique in its characteristics and its role in the band's success story, and 2112 is among the most notable and defining albums in the history of rock music.

This research question fits solidly into the subject of Language A, specifically under Group I, Category Three, based on the following two sets of criteria taken from the IB extended essay guide. Firstly, under this subject, research questions are intended to be specific and sharply focused, stated clearly in the introduction of the essay or on the title page, and related to the target language. Because the research question posed above falls under a topic as narrow as the effects of a single rock album on the fan-base of a single rock band, it is easily specific enough and sharply focused enough for the first criteria. As shown above, the research question is clearly stated in the introduction of this essay, satisfying the second criteria. Satisfying the third criteria, the lyrics of 2112 referenced in the research question are entirely in English, which is the target language of this essay. Secondly, essays under this subject should allow the writer to develop skills of textual analysis by considering how language, culture, and context influence the ways in which meaning is constructed in texts, to think critically about the different interactions which exist between texts, audiences, and purposes, and to develop the ability to convey views persuasively and in a well-structured manner, using an appropriate academic register. The research question for this essay allows the first criteria to be met by leading research in the direction of language, culture, and context investigation. The second criteria can be met under this research question as it focuses on the effects of the texts in 2112 on specific audiences and how the purpose behind these texts might have appealed to these audiences. Lastly, since the research question meets the first set of criteria, it allows room for a hypothesis, plentiful and specific research, persuasive presentation of evidence, all other necessary argumentative elements, and a solid conclusion, all given via appropriate, scholarly register. This research question meets all of the necessary criteria for a Group I, Category Three, Language A extended essay.

In order to answer this research question, the first step of the research process shall be collecting information from a variety of secondary sources, including biographical books, documentary films, and internet articles, regarding the topic at hand. The next step shall be to search for and collect information from a set of primary sources, including an official printing of the LP vinyl record of 2112 containing the complete lyrics and associated texts as well as a survey of real fans of the band from multiple generations. Once this research is complete, the accompanying essay will adhere to the following structure. First, it shall be necessary to explain the historical and musical context and background of the writing, recording, and release of 2112. Next, both personal and secondary analyses and interpretations of the language conventions of 2112 shall be provided and considered, covering both the English texts and the associated symbols found on the album cover. Lastly, personal and secondary analyses and interpretation of the real-world success, influence, and divisiveness of 2112 shall be provided and considered. By the end of the third argumentative stage of this essay, an educated and logically constructed conclusion shall be presented as an answer to the research question. It is likely this conclusion shall find that the themes and language conventions found in the texts of 2112 may be rooted in a specific historical and cultural context, but they have a universal message and appeal which has supported the continued relevancy of the album among fans of varying generations into the present day.


Background of Rush and 2112


Rush began in 1968 as a small garage band of soon-to-be high school drop-outs from Toronto, Canada, which was not a common area for a hard rock band of their kind to gain success. After a number of early, unimportant lineup changes, Rush established its first major lineup as "hard rock purist" (Rush, 2112) John Rutsey on drums and best friends Alex Lifeson (born Aleksandar Živojinović) and Geddy Lee (son of Holocaust survivors, born Gary Weinrib) playing guitar and bass guitar, respectively, with Geddy also covering all singing duties. The band's early musical style was much more akin to the hard rock of early Led Zeppelin and Cream than "that virtuoso "art" style noted for its experimental blending of rock, classical, jazz, and other idioms" (Sciabarra) known as Progressive rock, the latter of which Geddy and Alex followed more and more intently.

Between 1974 and 1976, Rush independently recorded its self-titled debut album, stylistically similar to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, found success and a record contract in America through the popularity of their song "Working Man" in Cleveland, let go of initial drummer John Rutsey due to his poor reaction to the band's newfound success, replaced him with virtuoso drummer Neil Peart, went on two increasingly successful tours and recorded an even more successful album with Peart, wrote and performed increasingly progressive rock music, decided Peart would act as Rush's primary lyricist as soon as they began recording their second album, and recorded and toured in support of a noticeably less successful third album, that tour being nicknamed by the band as the "Down the Tubes" Tour. This lead Rush's record label, Mercury records, to demand that the band write more commercial music lest they be dropped from the label, and this was the response given only after Rush's manager, Ray Daniels, met with the label to plead Rush's case. Rush, however, had no intention of meeting their label's request, preferring to go out with a bang than compromise their vision. Thus, the band entered the recording studio with their longtime producer, Terry Brown, full of anger and self-righteous devotion, had "a stylistic breakthrough" (Rush, 2112) according to Geddy Lee and created their best album yet. Empathizing with the plights of the protagonists of many of Ayn Rand's books, of which Neil Peart was an avid reader, the drummer-lyricist concocted a story plotting a free thinking individual against a collectivistic society entitled "2112," which ended up partly resembling the plot of Ayn Rand's Anthem. Peart now reflects "I thought I had to say something about Ayn Rand and the association with 2112, so I put, "with acknowledgement to the genius of Ayn Rand" (Rush, 2112). The connection with the often detested Rand brought the band a great deal of lasting bad publicity, though the album became a huge success, "going gold a year and a half after issue" (Popoff) and changing "the entire trajectory of their history, and, in fact, given Rush's importance and longest its, the history of rock itself" (Birzer).


Analysis of the 2112 Concept


In order to determine the reason behind 2112's influence on the construction of Rush's fan-base, it is necessary to first provide a brief overview of the plot of the album's title track, the source and main focus of its concept, then to analyze the themes and meanings of 2112 through Peart's use of two writing genres, critical interpretation, and an examination of the symbols of 2112. While a close reading of any literary text may be preferable in deciphering meaning, it would be far too lengthy and detailed to fit into this investigation, thus it shall be supplanted with critical and personal analysis. To begin, Neil Peart has provided an excellent and brief overview of the plot, which is as follows:


"The cycle begins with an "Overture," then the discovery of the guitar and music. Guitars don't exist in the Solar Fedaration because the computers won't allow music--it's not logical. Then there's the "Presentation," where the hero brings his guitar to the priests in the temples of Syrinx. But the acolytes smash it up and send him away. And he has a dream about a planet, established simultaneously with the Solar Federation, where all the creative people went. He's never seen anything like it before, this alternate way of life; even the way they build cities is totally different. And he gets more and more depressed because he realizes that his music is a part of that civilization and he can never be a part of it. But in the end he finds that the planet is real and things do change for him" (Popoff).

--Neil Peart


It must be noted that Neil does not mention the supposed death of his hero at the end of the plot in this overview, a death which is supported by his own lyrics and narration in movement "Soliloquy" as the hero laments "my last hope is that with my death I may pass into the world of my dream" and later cries "my lifeblood spills over . . ." This adds to the confusion of Neil's open ended plot, but that will be covered later in this investigation.

The first notable choice Peart makes as the author is the choice to relate this story via two genres of writing, poetry (i.e. lyrics) and prose. The original album sleeve for 2112 is a gatefold cover, meaning it opens like a book to create twice as much space for linear notes, lyrics, artwork, and whatever else the artist desires. This gatefold cover allows Peart enough room to include not only the lyrics to "2112," but also extra narration which could not be fit into the song itself. To differentiate the two, Neil writes the lyrics in poetic form, from multiple perspectives, and in the present tense, whereas he writes the narrated supplements as prose, from only one perspective, and in both the past and present tenses. He also intersperses the narrated supplements throughout the printed lyrics, the first passage even spreading onto the back cover of the album sleeve as a kind of introductory piece to grab the attention of potential listeners. The story can be understood via the lyrics alone, but the supplementary narrations provide useful context and clarification. Peart writes these narrations from the perspective of the hero in the story, clearly stating the content of each movement in either present or past tense and often then leading into the next movement in present tense. The passages are separated not only by the printed lyrics, but also by ellipses, to further give the impression that the narration is separate from the lyrics. In order to understand the purpose of the narration in "2112," it is important to understand that "Peart considered the story of 2112 as nothing more than a warning--not a prediction of what was to come but of what might come" (Birzer). If "2112" is meant as a warning, it would only make sense to include narration interspersed between the lyrics, not to tell the story twice but to provide vital, contextual information as how not to let this tragic story become a reality.

However, "2112" is much more than just a warning to many fans and critics. Themes such as individualism, perseverance, freedom, and creativity pervade this story of a free human being standing up for himself against an oppressive, collectivistic regime, armed only with a guitar. Reflects Geddy Lee, "it's about creative freedom. it's about belief, believing in yourself" (Rush, 2112). Most critics agree with this thematic interpretation, because even "though the protagonist of 2112 ends his own life, in classical and Stoic fashion, he also won [sic] by denying the collectivist society from wielding any further control over his destiny" (Birzer).

Despite this consensus, two major interpretive details are often argued over by fans and critics alike: 1) the conclusion of the plot and 2) the similarity to Ayn Rand's Anthem. As the final lines of the piece, "attention all planets of the solar federation" and "we have assumed control," are not identified in the linear notes of the album, nor is are any other lyrics or narratives provided to describe the ending of the plot, most fans and critics interpret the end of "2112" in one of two ways, "that either (1) the "elder race" (i.e. the preauthoritarian society) has returned to regain its earlier control, or (2) the priest collective has ramped up its recent control" (Bowman). Rush expert, Bradley Birzer, sides with the first interpretation, illustrating "representatives of the glorious elder race return in great numbers and announce--with loudness and confidence--that they have resumed [sic] control" (Birzer), whereas another Rush specialist, Durrell Bowman, writes "it seems unlikely, because Peart abhors authoritarianism. If the elder race is wise (on Peart's terms anyhow) it would not "assume control." Also, if it is about to return, why would our hero kill himself?" (Bowman). Interestingly, another Rush and Ayn Rand expert, Megan Volpert, seems to side with the first interpretation, but in a pessimistic manner, declaring "we have no reason to believe that the defeat of the Temples of Syrinx means a more permissive attitude toward guitar heroes" (Rush v. Rand). Though, seeing as Peart himself has referred to the speakers of those last two lines as "the good guys" (Rush, 2112) and "the cavalry" (Rush, 2112), the intended interpretation is definitely the more positive former rather the more sinister latter. Yet, ultimately, the conclusion is open ended, as "listeners receive only a very general idea of what is going on and thus may not correctly interpret the intended meaning" (Bowman).

Critics also debate the similarities of "2112" with Ayn Rand's Anthem with regular frequency. While some argue that "Rand's individualism and supreme belief in human agency is the chief inspiration for Rush's brand of Progressive rock" (Sciabarra), or that "the key to understanding the piece . . . is its "acknowledgement to the genius of Ayn Rand" (Sciabarra), a more realistic comparison finds that the two stories do share noticeable plot similarities and parallels, but "ultimately, though, it is not much like Ayn Rand's Anthem" (Bowman). Rand's novelette ends with the protagonist running away to live in the mountains and plot revenge on his former society with the love of his life, but "the vengeful fantasies of "Anthem" fade quickly away in this darker tale as our hero lapses into despair and eventually kills himself" (Rush v. Rand).

Lastly in this section, the iconic "five-pointed star graphic" designed by Hugh Syme, commonly known as the Starman, is analyzed. This graphic is not only important to 2112, but it is highly important to the band's entire career, as they adopted "the cover art from 2112 as their subsequent logo. It is symbolic of the two opposing forces in the story as "the red star . . . represents the dastardly Solar Federation, while the naked man on the version within the gatefold . . . represents unadorned freedom, individuality, man without trappings" (Popoff). Stated directly, "their Starman is the solitary individual who pushes back against the evil red pentagram of collectivism with both hands" (Rush v. Rand). Though some religious groups labeled the band as Satanists for their usage of a pentagram image, "Satanists actually position pentagram a with a single point pointing downward (not upward), not to mention that recoiling from an image means the complete opposite of endorsing its meaning" (Bowman).


Analyzing the Real-World Success and Influence of 2112


Since 2112 is a product of its time period, it is important to examine how it fits into the cultural context of 1976 in order to understand its initial ability to draw listeners into Rush's passionate fandom. It has been shown time and time again that the majority of Rush's fanbase has always been, and remains to this day, predominately comprised of white males, such as the author of this investigation. However, in 1976, these white males were also predominately middle-American and in their teens and twenties, "suffering through defeat in Vietnam (and elsewhere), cowering to the Soviets, surviving Watergate with nothing more that intense cynicism toward all politics, and limping along economically" (Birzer).

In regards to the album's success, "one might argue progressive rock was at its peak" (Popoff) or that "hatred of communism and conformism as well as patriotic (not nationalist) love of America would cause young American males to sympathize with the protagonist of 2112" (Birzer). In the aftermath of the counterculture and activist movements of the 1960s, ""2112" lyrically transliterated certain postcollectivist, postactivist, and post-counter cultural ideas for the rock generation of the 1970s and beyond" (Bowman). It may be argued that "2112" promoted certain sixties ideals or that it "may have seemed a bit like . . . Timothy Leary's famous 1976 countercultural, hippie phrase: "turn on, tune in, drop out." However, Rush's hero doesn't actually want to "drop out" . . . he wants to bring what he learned back to society. . . . If it thus inscribed a kind of "post counterculture," then maybe it's just culture" (Bowman).

It seems increasingly likely that much of the white, male youth of middle-America felt a similar sense of injustice due to their political and cultural environment in 1976 as the members of Rush felt due to the demands of their record label. Thus, when Rush expressed that sense of injustice lyrically and musically on 2112, it touched a nerve with much of this large audience, also providing them with the confidence and determination to follow their own path and resist oppression, just like the hero of "2112", and just like the members of Rush themselves. These culturally downtrodden teens and twenty-somethings discovered their common plight with both Rush and each other by listening to "2112," thus cementing them as lifelong fans of the band, and beginning the tradition of Rush's close-knit, passionate, and inviting fan-base, sometimes jokingly referred to as a cult. Durrell Bowman agrees, writing "the "2112" scenario parallels the similar concerns about social and moral contributions expressed by working-class, early 1970s, late teens in sociological research of the 1980s" (Bowman).

However, the lyrics did not play the only role in creating this fans-base in 1976, as "manager Ray Daniels also attributes the album's success to three other factors: (1) the steadfast belief the band had in their art, resulting in an album even Mercury had to admit was objectively "good"; (2) the workable six-digit fan base built by the first three albums; and (Birzer) the fact that Caress of Steel [Rush's less successful third album] was toured unflaggingly, despite the blank stares from the few who showed up. Plus, once 2112 emerged, Rush hit the road just as hard" (Popoff). In addition, producer Terry Brown believes "the audience was attracted to Rush because they were heavy" (Rush, 2112), but just "as well, FM had entered a golden period. It was not uncommon for DJ's to play all of the title track in one large and uninterrupted meal of escapist stoner rock" (Popoff). Obviously, various factors contributed to the success of 2112 upon its initial release.

The amazing thing about 2112, though, is certainly its longetivity. While many successful bands of the 1970s turned out to be flashes in the pan, with records that were mostly forgotten decades down the road, Rush and its lengthy discography, and especially 2112, has shown an incredible ability to last and resonate deeply with listeners not just from the 1970s, but from every decade between then and now. This album has continued to influence the history of rock music from the time of its release through the present day, not least through the wildly successful modern American Progressive heavy metal band, Dream Theater, who's guitarist, John Petrucci, claims ""2112" basically set the course for my musical career and how I approached Dream Theater" (Petrucci). He further explains "the idea of a big piece like that being broken down into numbered sections like they were chapters in a book was just unbelievable to me, and it's a technique that I continue to use to this day" (Petrucci), obviously solidifying the idea of 2112's lasting impact on rock music and on growing Rush's fan-base, Petrucci affirming "if I had to pick a favorite band of all time, it would be Rush" (Petrucci).

Statistics show similar results, with a survey taken on therushforum.com--a large website where Rush fans congregate to discuss the band and other topics--by the author of this investigation (under the screen name "Entre_Perpetuo") showing that 63.38% of fans out of a pool of seventy-one users voted "yes" to the question "did 2112 (album and/or song) play a major role in your induction into the Rush fan-base?" (Entre_Perpeto). It must be noted though, that 65.79% of these users answered "Older (70s - 80s)" to the question "would you consider yourself a newer or an older Rush fan?" (Entre_Perpetuo), and only one user answered "Lyrics and Symbols" to the question "which has had more effect on you, the lyrics and symbols or the music of 2112 (album and/or song)?" (Entre_Perpetuo).

Nevertheless, the album has obviously has obviously been a common entryway into the Rush fan-base ever since its release in 1976, especially since "Rush provided the soundtrack for high schoolers from the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s" (Birzer) and 2112 has been among the band's best selling albums throughout that entire time period and beyond, and portions of its title track have been played on every single major Rush tour since 1976. Despite the misunderstandings of decades of rock music critics, the band's fan-base has continued to grow, and with no small thanks to 2112, which gave Rush the freedom to continue developing their artistic vision for decades to come. As Geddy Lee summarizes, "there's a message in "2112" that resonates with people and continues to resonate with people, and I think that's what has given it its longetivity" (Rush, 2112).




Considering both the findings presented in secondary sources, as well as personal interpretation and surveyed statistics, there is ample evidence to conclude that the lyrics and symbols of 2112 have been able to consistently affect various generations of listeners so strongly in three major fashions. Firstly, in accordance with the initial hypothesis of this investigation, 2112's themes have a universal message and appeal which can resonate with anyone who values freedom, individualism, and perseverance. Secondly, the initial success and influence of the album created the opportunity for the band's later successes and for the continued induction of new members into Rush's fan-base for years to come. Lastly, 2112's symbols and lyrics provided an assured direction for its music, which has often the main appeal of the album to old and new fans alike. In these ways, the lyrics and symbols of Rush's 2112 have affected various generations on listeners strongly enough to induct them into the band's massive fan-base.



Works Cited


Birzer, Bradley J. Neil Peart: Cultural Repercussions. Colorado Springs, CO: Wordfire Press, 2015. Print.


Bowman, Durrell. Experiencing Rush: A Listener's Companion. Latham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. Print.


Collins, John. Rush: Chemist®y. London: Helter Skelter, 2010. Print.


Entre_Perpetuo, (2016, March 5). Three survey type questions for research purposes [poll]. Archived at http://www.therushforum.com/index.php?/topic/98278-three- survey-type-questions-for-research-purposes/page__mode__show


Petrucci, John. "John Petrucci of Dream Theater Discusses Rush's '2112' - The Record That Changed My Life." John Petrucci of Dream Theater Discusses Rush's '2112' - The Record That Changed My Life. Guitar World, 14 July 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.


Popoff, Martin. Rush: The Illustrated History. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press, 2013.


Rush, 2112; Rush, Moving Pictures. Dir. Martin R. Smith. Eagle Vision, 2010. DVD.


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. Dir. Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn. Perf. Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson. Banger Films, 2010. DVD.


"Rush v. Rand: Judge Patty Hearst Presiding - Frontier Psychiatrist." Frontier Psychiatrist. Frontier Psychiatrist, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.


Rush. 2112. Anthem, 1976. LP.


Rush, 2112; Rush, Moving Pictures. Dir. Martin R. Smith. Eagle Vision, 2010. DVD.


Sciabarra, Chris M. "Rand, Rush, and Rock." The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 4.7 (2002): 161-85. Nyu.edu. The Pennsylvania State University Press. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.






Happy 21-12-2016 :)

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Thanks all again! I just read back through it myself for the first time I think since I wrote it, and while I am still disappointed that the poll on here was my only primary source for figuring out 2112's influence, and it's results weren't really as conclusive as I spun them, as well as a few notable typos from having written roughly that whole thing in the span of about 24 hours (did a ton of prior research though), I do like it, and I am very proud to be able to say that I did it. So thanks for your constant support of all things Rush on here folks, cuz this community was just one of the big factors that led to me writing this essay rather than some other 4,000 word essay I wouldn't have been as interested in.
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Well, to my surprise, I read all of it... very well done! Yes, a few typos, but never mind that part. The meat and potatoes are killer.
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