In an effort to avoid lame homecoming activities and pathetically drunk alumni hitting on poor freshmen ladies, I decided to spend last night curled up on my bed listening to Rush (Caress of Steel through Signals) while reading Brad Birzer’s new book on Neil Peart. I’m not going to offer a full review because I don’t think I could do it justice, but I highly recommend it to all of you. It helped me greatly understand both Neil Peart the man and the musician.
After reading Dr. Brad’s book, it is clear that there is a lot Mr. Peart and I disagree about, particularly when it comes to religion. However, I deeply admire him much in the same way I admire other anti-religious or anti-Christian greats of the western tradition. Despite his aversion to Christianity, Peart doesn’t come out and attack Christians for their beliefs. He is very much live and let live, and I can completely support that.
The structure of the book is chronological, beginning with Peart’s beginnings with the band and ending at the present. Brad includes in depth analysis of Rush’s lyrics, Neil Peart’s written prose, and looks at his personal life in order to understand the band’s music. Brad rounds out his look at the intellectual study of Neil Peart with generous interview references from all three band members, as well as personal interviews with masters of current prog, such as Andy Tillison. While Brad didn’t get the opportunity to conduct any new interviews with Peart himself, he makes up for that loss by looking at essentially every pertinent interview, book, and magazine article available.
In short, Neil Peart: Cultural Repercussions is a must read for fans of Rush, Neil Peart, progressive rock, literature, the western tradition, and cultural criticism. Brad paints Peart as the great western man of our time, continuing the culture of the past, all the while doing it with the enthusiasm that only Dr. Brad Birzer can provide. It really is an outstanding book, well worth your time.
Order Neil Peart: Cultural Repercussions from Amazon, here.