Given all of the free time I have created for myself by eliminating, at least for a time, certain subjects for my writing, I thought I would explore other topics of interest.
You all know that I am a fan of progressive rock, given my many cites of lyrics from Rush and Dream Theater (Primus is something else, indeed. You classify them, I cannot). I would like to examine a bit of the most progressive rock album ever released by Rush, Hemispheres.
As described at Wikipedia:
The album contains examples of Rush's adherence to progressive rock standards including the use of fantasy lyrics, multi-movement song structures, and complex rhythms and time signatures.
Believe me, it is complex music; way over the top. In fact, so over the top that…well…
In the 2010 documentary film Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, the band members comment that the stress of recording Hemispheres was a major factor in their decision to start moving away from suites and long-form pieces in their songwriting.
I recall hearing them say something about the songs being so complex that they had a hard time figuring out how to even play them live.
What Good is a Rush Reference Without Some Lyrics?
I can live with it, but…
I have heard Neil Peart (the lyricist and drummer for the band) describe himself as a bleeding heart libertarian (heaven help me…but don’t lose hope). From the opening song of Hemispheres, part VI. The Sphere A Kind of Dream:
We can walk our road together
If our goals are all the same
We can run alone and free
If we pursue a different aim
Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere
Yet, I don’t believe he is offering this “bleeding heart libertarianism” as a political philosophy, but a personal philosophy. I offer, from another song on this album, The Trees:
There is unrest in the Forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the Maples want more sunlight
And the Oaks ignore their pleas.
After a bit more explanation:
So the Maples formed a Union
And demanded equal rights
‘The Oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more Oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
From the entirety of the lyrics (you can check the above link if you are interested), it is clear that Peart isn’t happy with this outcome. It seems clear that Peart views the “bleeding heart” portion of his self-description as a personal philosophy and not a political philosophy.
I am with him on this.
Back to the music. Perhaps the best example of progressive rock on this most progressive rock album is an instrumental piece, almost ten minutes long and divided into twelve distinct sections. As if to emphasize the excess progressive in this progressive rock piece, it is entitled “La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence).”
(Forgive the strange introduction, but this is a great live version of the song…and, also, don’t be fooled by the audience shots that include three different females. That’s all of them.).
There you have it.