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Subject: 06/03/91 - The National Midnight Star #250 ** Special Edition **

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          The National Midnight Star, Number 250

                   Monday, 3 June 1991
Today's Topics:
                PoW tourbook transcription

From: (Adrian N Ogden)
Subject: PoW tourbook transcription

I picked this up a couple of months ago at a record fair, and since it
was one of the ones not currently available in the NMS archives I promised
myself I'd transcribe it. And since, as numerous people have pointed out,
the list seems to be going through a dry spell, now seemed like a good time.
So here it is, The Power Windows Tourbook!!! Enjoy!

<< Adrian Ogden   _ . _ _   _ . _ _   _ _ . . >>

   L O O K I N G   T H R O U G H   P O W E R   W I N D O W S 

                          by Neil Peart

February 1985:  Looking out through the upstairs window of an old Ontario
farmhouse you can see a violent blizzard is blowing. The flying snow whips
sideways past the window, across the open fields, and into mighty drifts.

We have been here at Elora Sound for about three weeks now, working on a
crop of new songs. Out in the barn there is a 24 track studio where my
co-workers Alex and Geddy spend their afternoons, working on musical ideas
or fitting music to one or another of the lyrics I have been working on
here at my little desk. And I mean little. It's about the right size for
a five-year old. It keeps me humble.

Occasionally I might have a listen to a piece of music that the other two
have given me to work on, or sheaf through the notes I have collected over
the past year or so. See if anything connects. I have been trying to work
on Manhatten Project, but it's strange working on a historical piece - you
end up having to do so much research to get the facts straight.

Fortunately I came here with some rough outlines for The Big Money, Mystic
Rhythms and Marathon, and had a head start. While Geddy was at home, he
sifted through a big pile of sound check jams, looking for worthwhile ideas,
and Alex has brought in a tape of his homemade guitar symphonies, so we've
all done our homework.

We put together those first three songs in a week or so, spending our
afternoons separately and getting together in the evenings to play. Then we
moved onto Middletown Dreams and tonight we'll probably continue working
on Marathon. This bit of music that I'm trying to put words to will
eventually become Grand Designs.

March:  Looking down from a hotel room window in Miami you see hundreds of
shiny bodies baking in the Florida sun. The heat feels good after the long
Canadian winter, but with another show tonight you're not really relaxed.
Putting your coffee cup down, you put on your headphones and have a listen
to the five new songs. The pool looks inviting down there and white sails
drift across the blue sea.

As ever we are out doing a few shows before going into the studio, to
sharpen up our playing skills and give us a chance to play some of the new
songs live and at sound checks.

At Lakeland we met up with "Jimbo" Barton for the first time, the
irrepressible Australian who will be our engineer on this album. He has been
recommended by our new producer, Peter Collins, and is full of high spirits
and confidence. He's sure he can make my drums sound "A hundred percent
bettah!" We'll see. He's a nice dresser though.

Later in March:  Back behind my little desk in Elora, looking out at the
beginnings of spring. Patches of brown grass and plowed earth show through
the snow, and that special smell is in the air. Manure.

When we first started here I used to get up from my desk late in the day
and go for a ski, but these days I go for a bike ride.

A strange thing happened on our first day back. We had spoken about working
on a ballad for the album, so I started working on some suitable lyrics.
When I went over to show them to the other guys they were working on a really
nice piece of music. Though it wasn't exactly the ballad we had in mind, Geddy
started singing the lyrics to it, and the words and music married perfectly.
Et voila! Emotion Detector was born.

It had been good for us to get away from it for a couple of weeks. I had been
struggling with the lyrics for Territories and Manhatten Project for weeks,
but now they just fell together. The music for Emotion Detector and
Territories was soon written and arranged, and we had some pretty good tapes
of our seven songs to play for Peter when he arrived.

This left only Manhatten Project to be our trouble child. Every album has one,
a song that doesn't want to get written, or doesn't want to be recorded, or
sometimes mixed. This being the last song we worked on, we were probably a
bit burned out, but Peter was able to contribute quite a few helpful ideas,
to this and to some of the other songs as well.

It was good that he didn't try to change our songs, or the way we played
them, but just liked to add little touches - "events" he called them - that
we would not otherwise have thought of. *And that is just what we were
looking for.*

April:  Out from a tall window overlooking the mossy gardens and ancient
churchyard at the Manor, in Oxfordshire England. Patches of cloud race across
a blue sky, as you settle into yet another room, putting up some pictures on
the mirror. Make it home.

Somehow you can just feel how old this place is. Ian the gardener tells us
that it is mentioned in the Domesday Book - back in would you believe 1086!
Now *that's* old! We have heard stories about a ghost called "The Grey Lady",
but didn't get to meet her. Maybe next time.

The method of recording which Peter and Jimbo use allows us to record the
basic tracks very quickly, and capture a lot of early, more spontaneous
performances. We have the basic tracks finished in a couple of weeks, and
are ready for a world of overdubs.

At this point we bring on our special guest star for this album, the
flamboyant Andy Richards, who will be helping us with synthesizer programming,
as well as adding some exciting keyboard moments and textures throughout the
album. we enjoyed the chance to sit back and suggest things for someone
*else* to do!

Alex became a little bored during all this, and decided to take up a new
hobby - oil painting! Soon he was turning out a string of creditable
masterpieces from his upstairs salon. The Tate Gallery and the Museum of
Modern Art are engaged in a bidding war over them as we speak.

One morning Larry, who looks after my drums, and I drove into London and
loaded up the station wagon with African and Indian drums. We would use these
to create the drum sounds for Mystic Rhythms, and I was thrilled to make my
bongo drum debut in Territories. New horizons.

During one late night session at the kitchen table (The Launching Pad) the
similarity of stature and air of authority is noted between Peter and
Edward G. Robinson, and from now on he becomes "Mr. Big". "Okay, see..."
He even smokes cigars!

May:  A big tinted picture window looks out from the control room across the
swimming pool and down a wide green valley. On over the stately royal palms
down to the hot black volcanic sand, and out to the tropical sun glaring on
the blue Carribean. If you can't live in a place like this, couldn't you at
least get a nerve transplant with someone who does?

Ah Montserrat! we have talked and dreamed of working in this place for years -
we finally made it. Air Studios; a hilltop retreat on the small friendly
"Emerald Isle of the Carribean". A real live volcano, real live iguanas, real
live cows and goats on the roads, and some of the friendliest people you'll

Poor Alex. The whole three weeks we are on the island, we work on nothing
but guitar overdubs, leaving the rest of us in purely critical roles while
he slaves away all day every day. Oh well, we tell him, remember those days
of boredom at The Manor, and just think - *you'll* have some days off when
we're back in the rain and cold of London! I think he felt better then.

During the one day off we allowed ourselves, the staff gave us a barbecue
at a deserted beach on the north side of the island. There it was decided
that Alex should become His Royal Highness King Lerxst, whereupon he
changed name of the island to Schmengland (by royal decree). He further
proclaimed that the second Monday of every month would be "King Lerxst Day",
with no work and free drinks for everyone.

As we drive back, he stands up in the back of our open jeep, wearing a 
motorcycle helmet (?), flanked by two other maniacs, led by a motorcycle
escort (Jimbo and Peter's rented motorbikes), and chauffeured by Your
Correspondent (specially schooled in terrorist-evasion tactics). As we pass
through the small sleepy villages, he waves to his loyal subjects and
shouts out his proclamations to the bemused citizenry.

"You don't have to work tomorrow", he announces to a woman.

"I haven't got a *job*", she returns. Oh. Nothing's perfect in paradise.

He also survived two assassination attempts.

June:  A bay window looks down on the bustling streets of Mayfair in London.
It's the start of the tourist season, and a convention of American lawyers
is in town, so the streets are thronged. After Elora, The Manor and
Montserrat it's actually kind of nice to be back in a big city. The energy
and activity are contagious.

I'd like to talk about the windows at the studio - but there weren't any!
SARM East studio is located in a basement in the east end of London, so even
when there was a nice day, we wouldn't know anything about it!

With almost everything recorded now, we start in on the guitar solos, and
then the vocals. We had dared to dream of being home for most of the summer,
but we begin to realize that it is not to be. As Jimbo would say: "*Dream*
about it!"

Instead of a hotel we had rented a flat to live in this time, which is a
little less impersonal. It contained the view described above, but we
usually only saw it late at night, when the streets were dark and deserted.
London sleeps early.

It was mildly depressing to watch June and July go by - or *not* watch them -
from a basement in London. After the other studios, and a string of previous
albums at Le Studio in Quebec, we were used to more natural surroundings!

July:  The glassed-in sunroom of a townhouse in Chelsea. A summer
thunderstorm approaches over the Thames. The tide is going out, and the
water flows black beneath an angry sky. The rain starts to pelt the window
in gusts, like gravel, and you can smell the lightning.

Well, we're still in London, but to counter our restlessness we have moved
to a new home to start our second month here. Geddy has been receiving
regular infusions of baseball on videotape, and we have been importing
some of our favourite junk foods from home.

We're about to start the mixing after taking a week away from it. It gets
hard to be objective about anything at this point, so it's good to try and
step back from it a bit.

We go through daily changes about the running order of the album, and there
are decisions to make about the artwork, the credits, photos, and of
course - the songs!

August: Looking through the control room window into the vast Studio 1 at
Abbey Road Studios. Rock history has been made here, and history (of a sort)
will be made here today. Yet another drenching thunderstorm has flooded the
city, and a damp bunch of string players are assembling for a session. A
thirty piece string section to play on a Rush album. Imagine!

It was very exciting to stand out int the studio itself and listen to the
majestic sound of all those live strings. Especially playing one of *our*
songs! Ha!

We had another excursion out to Angel Studios, this time to record a twenty
five piece choir for the end of Marathon. At this session the three of us
keep looking at eachother and laughing out loud. It's so *weird*!

But Mr. Big wanted us to pull out all the stops on this album - really make
it something different and special. Well it's certainly *different*!

And now it rains every day for two weeks. Summertime, and the living is - wet.

September:  Through my very own upstairs window looking out at the dark
rooftops and backyards of my neighbourhood. Through the trees in the distance
you can just see the winking strobe of the CN tower.

Well at last it's truly finished. Six months this odyssey has taken us, but
seemed to pass pretty rapidly (except for the last bit). Geddy has been in
New York to oversee the mastering (and catch a ball game or two), we've seen
and approved the proofs for the cover, and planned out the video.

Now we just kind of wait around and see what everyone *else* has to say about
it. For myself, I'm already starting to think about the *next* one. Do you
suppose that's good or bad? Oh well, it's *over*!

Like Mr. Big says at the end of the day, "That's a wrap boys!"

Or as H.R.H. King Lerxst proclaimed: "Free drinks for Everybody!"

N E I L   P E A R T

Well the big news this time is in the area of electronics. My experiments
last time in combining the Simmons electronic drums with my acoustic
setup worked out very well, and having the two separate drum sets
back-to-back has allowed me to expand the variety of sounds I can choose
from without compromising the feel and voice of natural drums.

With the use of Simmons SDS-7 digital modules and the EPROM unit (Erasable
Programmable Read-Only Memory) I can now reproduce, for example, the African
drums which I played on "Mystic Rhythms", stored on tiny little chips and
triggered by the pads. This is a very exciting area of exploration, as you
can imagine. Without losing the excitement and energy of real drums at the
heart of my playing, I can have an infinite variety of other percussive
sounds and effects to call on at the stroke of a pad or the kick of a switch.
Larry and I have even invented a little trigger (called "Sidney") which
mounts between my front toms to give me easier access to effects. fun stuff.

You'd be right in thinking that these machines are complicated, experimental,
and sometimes frustrating. In spite of my instinctive distrust and antipathy
for things electronic, I find myself unable to resist the limitless variety
of sounds I can create and reproduce. I didn't realize that when I first
played with a little Mattel drum synthesizer - I'd get hooked!

Everything else remains pretty constant, the Tama drums are the "Artstar"
prototypes, except for the snares which are the old Slingerland "Artist"
model. All the cymbals are by Avedis Zildjian, except for the Chinese ones
which are from Wuhan in China. Timbale, crotales, wind chimes, glockenspiel,
temple blocks, cowbells, "Clap Trap", and a gong bass drum round out the
toy box.

And next Christmas I'd like a train set, a mountain bike, a sailboat, new
Telemark skis, a rocket ship, a ferrari GTO, a chemistry set, eternal life...

G E D D Y   L E E

Oy! Oy! Headache!!

You wouldn't believe what I've done!
You see, I put all these great keyboard sounds on "Power Windows", (with
the help of Andy Richards and Jim Burgess) and the album sounds wonderful!
So what's wrong? You ask!

Oy! Oy! Headache!!

Well, *now* I've got to have these same wonderful sounds live and in
Technicolour for yours (and my) edification. You think that's easy!

Oy! Oy! Headache!!

So! I had to go and get a bunch of Emulator II Computerized Synthesizers,
and a DX 7 (Yamaha) and a QX-1 Sequencer (also Yamaha), along with my regular
PPG 2.3 and JP 8 (Roland) Oy!! And, if that wasn't enough, I have to keep
these offstage, so Jack Secret can load the Emulator computer disks during
the show while *I* play them with remote keyboards (two Yamaha KX 76
Remote Midi Controllers!) Get it ! *But wait*!! Who's going to load Jack

Oy! Oy! Headache!!

Meanwhile, in the fun, I mean Bass department, I am pleased to announce the
addition of one beautifully crafted and great sounding Wal Bass. Custom made
in England by a small but "happening" company. The Wal (no pun intended)
along with my two trusty Steinbergers are the only Basses I will be using on
this tour. My amplifiers remain the same as on the "Grace Under Pressure"
tour. And Oy! I'm getting *thirsty*!

So! Enough!
Enjoy! Enjoy!

A L E X   L I F E S O N


This was supposed to be my equipment list, but I sold all my gear. I just
borrow things I need from friends. Some old stuff. A few wires here, a couple
guitars there, some machine guns... Oh yeah, the machine guns. Well, the
story goes something like this: During our stay in Montserrat we decided to
have a dinner picnic on a beautiful deserted beach. It was a lovely day and
a great barbecue. There was much laughter until we heard the machine guns
and bombs exploding. The sky was a cross-hatch of jet fighter and missile
contrails. I had a hunch that something was up.

We immediately headed back to the studio. It was a blazing inferno with
temperatures well above 100 degrees C!! We managed to save all our gear and
the blender which we used to make daiquiris with. It was there that we
learned from one of the locals that a coup had taken place.

"Yeah mon, dey *kill* dat monkey ass. Now is da time of da King mon."

After I heard his incredible tale I thought to myself - Kingman? Who is
Kingman? The accountant? The calypso group The Kingman Trio, maybe?

And as if this man had read my thoughts, he said, "No man, not Kingman - The
KING, Mon!"

Now it was all too clear. I suddenly realized destiny had brought me to this
island to do a job. I looked up as the flaming studio sparked a reflection
in my eyes and bravely said: "But they have guns! We need something better
than guns. We need Gubs!"

We also needed a defence budget so I sold my equipment that same night, met
at a dark lagoon with a Cuban gub runner, quelled the rioting and became
King Lerxst by 8:30 the next morning. Boy was I bushed.

I enacted two important laws that Monday morning. The first was the "No Work
Today" law, and the second was "Big Al Day", which fell on the first Monday
of each week, when all the drinks on the island were free.

Sure there were a few unhappy subjects, and I have had my fair share of
assassination attempts, but after the third Monday things were pretty well
settled down. Yeah that's what the world needs: more "Big Al Days".


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Copyright The Rush Fans Mailing List, 1991.

Editor, The National Midnight Star
(Rush Fans Mailing List)

End of The National Midnight Star Number 250

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