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Subject: 06/26/91 - The National Midnight Star #274 ** Special Edition **

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          The National Midnight Star, Number 274

                 Wednesday, 26 June 1991
Today's Topics:
         the INFAMOUS Creem interview with Neil.
----------------------------------------------------------

[ Finally, after three attempts to mail this, I think it'll get out
  this time!  Really, Gregg, it was technical difficulties!! :-)

  Warning: This may be hard for some to swallow.  Please, let's not
  innundate the NMS with outraged replies.  Send 'em to Creem instead. :-)
                                                                 :rush-mgr ]

Date: Sat, 15 Jun 91 17:14:23 EDT
From: jaeger@buphy.bu.edu (Gregg Jaeger)
Subject: the INFAMOUS Creem interview with Neil.

Here it is:

The infamous J. Kordosh interview with Neil. But first, here's 
a Creem editorial comment which came out some time afterward:

 Both writers have had ups and downs in their careers. Kordosh, who
 admits that it is impossible for him to be objective, has had his
 share of negative experiences. 

 Aside from having been beaten up by Ray Davies of the Kinks, Kordosh
 said his interview with Neil Peart of Rush was exceptionally bad.
 ``Neil Peart takes himself very seriously,'' says Kordosh. And when
 Peart began saying that the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were not
 that good of [sic!] bands, ``I simply questioned his intelligence.''

 Kordosh wrote a rather unflattering article on Peart and, consequently,
 Rush has not had any correspondence with _Creem_ in the past five
 years. Kordosh, however, laughs about the fact.

Enjoy:


 Thursday: Kordosh has been roused from his afternoon nap by Sherry
Ring, publicist for Mercury Records. Ring is calling from New York
to firm up connections for next week's Rush interviews.

``No problem with Neil and Alex,'' says Ms. Ring. ``But Geddy still
says he won't talk to anyone from _CREEM_.''

``Hmmph? Huh? Whannot?'' mumbles Kordosh.

``Well, it's that _Eleganza_...''

``Till 'im I dint write it,'' Kordosh snoozes. Lots of people cut up 
in that one.''

``I know, but...well, if he sees things are going well with the other
guys maybe he'll change his mind.''

``His business.''

``By the way, did I mention that the album's gone gold?''

``Huh? Album? _Permanent Waves_? Went gold along time ago, dint?''

``No, the new one!''

``New one? Thought it was just released..._has_ it been released?''

``Two weeks ago! Isn't that something?''

``Yeah, that's something alright,'' admits a practically-there
Kordosh. Now the question is: _what_?

 Sunday: Doze-addict Kordosh is glancing at his morning paper through
half-closed eyes, hoping that there's a good basketball game on TV 
today. This getting up at 10:30 is killing him. A review of _Moving
Pictures_, catches a mucous-filled eye.

Congenitally unable to understand phrases like ``smoldering rock
masterpiece,'' ``jazz-influenced virtuosity'' and ``visceral rock
sounds,'' he begins to nod off until a single sentence falls off the
page: ``What's most interesting is Neil Peart's perceptive lyrics.''
Having listened to the LP in question, he feels his viscera -- which
are the internal organs of his body -- begin to quiver. Nothing like
a smoldering rock review he decides, his head hitting the pillow.

 Thursday: Sherry Ring has called again, this time to finalize the
Rushaviews. Unfortunately, Kordosh -- guilty of a rare act of motion
-- is not home and misses the call. He cheerfully dials Ms. Ring,
reversing the charges.

The publicist mentions that _Moving Pictures_ will be slotted #8
with a bullet in next week's _Billboard_ charts. The dazed Kordosh,
by now able to continue tracking the twelve-inch virtuosity, wonders
if he should pray for the souls of all the polyvinyl cows slaughtered
in the cause. Later in the evening he listens to the record again,
but falls asleep during side two. It might be mentioned that he
suffers a similar reaction while reading through the many poems
junior high schools students send him for critical perusal.

 Friday: And the 13th of the month as well. A cold wind sweeps 
Detroit as Kordosh makes his way to the Pontchartrain Hotel to
meet Sherry Ring. Personable and charming, she tells him Rush
was awarded a platinum Chu-Bop for _Permanent Waves_; he is
fascinated by the favorable review.

They walk over to Cobo Arena, where the band is running through
their sound check. Sherry suggests that they sit somewhere where
Rush won't see them, so as not to disturb the sound check. As
Cobo seats around 12,000 people and no one else is in the arena,
this does not present an insurmountable difficulty. However, it
does cause Kordosh to idly wonder exactly what he _could_ do
to disrupt the activities of people standing on an elevated
stage some hundreds of feet from him. Drop his pencil _real [sic] 
loud_?

After a half-hour of sitting on their thumbs, the pair return
to the hotel, where they are met by _CREEM_ editors Sue Whitall,
Dave DiMartino, and Mark Norton. Splendid sea-food cuisine is
enjoyed by all, and many drinks as well. The talk turns to whether
or not Rush has a sense of humor. Pointing to the Chu-Bop cover
of _Permanent Waves_, DiMartino notes ``I'd be worried if a band
put out that cover and _didn't_ have a sense of humor.'' The
portentous comment is generally forgotten as the conversation
degenerates...but Kordosh will have good reason to remember it
later.

After dinner, only Norton doesn't chicken out, agreeing to go
to the concert with Kordosh. 

 Friday/The Concert: Well, I'm Kordosh, and I suppose it's time
I got this thing into the first person. I wouldn't want anyone to
think that this is written on some kind or rock or anything.

I was later able to infer that Rush have some sort of collective
paranoia about _making mistakes_ during a live performance. Of
course, this is intrinsically impossible, as their material is 
one gigantic mistake unto itself. Although even the running dogs
of criticism have been woofing and wagging lately, Rush's last
two albums aren't all that much different than their earlier Alpo.
I mean, how many levels of pretentious boredom can there _be_?

What's more, this miasma of moronism is about as dangerous as
getting shampoo in your eyes. In other words, it has _nothing
to do_ with rock 'n' roll, or even crossing the street against
the light. I haven't seen every act in the world, but I daresay
that the Irish Rovers take more chances onstage.

The best that can be said about these musicians-by-innuendo is
that Alex Lifeson is a competant post-Page guitarist. Geddy Lee,
who played -- excuse me, strapped on -- a double-necked bass
during one song, plays with all the gusto of a teen-aged girl
who's thinking about giving up ballet lessons for punk rock.
And Neil Peart can hide behind every triangle, gong, bell,
empty paint can, and any other percussion instrument he can
think of -- adults will prefer one good wallop from Charlie
Watts from now until 2112. Wait a minute, I forgot that Geddy
Lee is also the group's vocalist. At least, _I wanted to_.

Since a Rush concert is _de facto_ humorless, Norton and I had
to ``make our own fun.'' Peart's drum solo -- I swear, it's
true -- during ``YYZ'' wasn't exactly a scream, but Norton
asking ``Does this mean I'll miss _The Love Boat_?'' helped
a whole lot. We prowled the corridors, interviewing hapless
Rush fans (RE_dundant, Kordo). Sample snip from the tape: 
``Why do you like Rush?'' ``Rush ROCK DE-TROIT!'' ``No, no;
Tokyo rocks Detroit.'' And so on; I brooded over the potential
sequel ``ZZZ.''

But the fun was ending and pretty soon we'd be facing the real
music -- Neil Peart, lyricist. And I use the word in the broadest
sense.

Friday/The First Interview: Backstage with Peart seated across
from me (and Norton standing behind me), I thought Peart looked
more like 35 than his late 20ish. Dressed in a red sweatshirt,
blue jeans, and bright blue tennis shoes, he appeared decidedly
normal -- except for his eyes, which hae the zomboid intensity
of the you-can't-escape-me zealot.

(I should mention, perhaps, that Peart has _no sense of humor
whatsoever_, although he'll deny that claim. What the hell,
maybe he _does_ have some kind of sense of humor, but you'll
probably find Kennedy's brain buried in your backyard before
you find it. In any case, it goes along way in explaining what
followed.)

First off, we had to clear up -- for the sixth or seventh time --
exactly _why_ Geddy Lee wouldn't talk to us. (Let me make it clear
that I rank a conversation with Geddy Lee _just below_ ``standing
in line'' on my list of cool things to do.) The entire thing
stems from a tragic misunderstanding: in the October, 1980 issue
of CREEM -- I'm pretty sure it was CREEM, but maybe I should
check -- editors Whitall and DiMartine cooked up a fictional
debate between ``Janie Jones'' and ``Geddy Lee Roth'' for the
ever-whimsical _Eleganza_ column. Well, perceptive-guy Geddy
sure enough knew where they got _that_ name from...although
I'm not saying that it would not take him several days of hard
thinking.

Satire-hater Peart explained: ``It was insulting -- the things
that were put into his mouth were things he would never say, in 
a way that he would never say them. And no one in their right
minds [sic] would be compared to David Lee Roth.'' Don't take it 
seriously, David Lee, _I betcha he's only kidding!_

But no! ``The magazine did it,'' Peart continued.

``The magazine did _what?_'' asked Mark ``I Wish I Were At Bookie's''
Norton. 

``The magazine slandered Geddy.''

Pouring oil on these troubled waters (and simultaneously looking 
for my Bic lighter), I said ``Wait a minute. If you took this to
court, CREEM would win hands down. It's clear-cut satire. And there
are laws that say that if this is obvious satire, there is no libel.''

``Obviously,'' Peart agreed. ``Are we talking about laws, though,
or are we talking about morals? It _was_ immoral; it _wasn't_ funny.''

``I'm glad you mentioned that,'' I lied. ``I see a lot of threads
running through your lyrics, but one I can't pick up on is humor.
Is there a reason for this? Is there something I'm missing??''

``I'm not a comedian. I'm a musician and a lyricist...I'm not interested
in being a humorist.''

Well, you and me and Johnson makes three, Neil, old pal. Knowing
a good thing, I pressed on: ``Do you see rock music as being funny
in any way?''

``Mmm,'' mulled the author of ``By-Tor And The Snow Dog.'' Some
people I think, are --`witty'-- put it that way,'' he said,
pronouncing `witty' in an exaggerated sissy tone.

``It's just that this -- what I would call a lack of humor -- is
what let you guys in for a lot of criticism,'' I offered.

``No, no. You see, you're dealing with cynical, jaded critics
here, who in a lot of cases, are frustrated musicians. The people
who have given us the `humorless' tag are the frustrated, jaded
people...cynical...who think that the only thing that's good is
what's funny and off-color.''

I didn't have the heart to tell Neil the _real truth_, namely that
this frustrated musician hoo-hah is just the tip of the iceberg.
What we _really_ are is frustrated writers. Now, can anybody guess
why?

``If we laughed at our words, then we'd have to laugh at our 
audience, just like so many bands do. They say `Hah, these stupid
schmucks,' and they (the stupid schmucks) soak it up. We don't
look at it that way. We give our audience the credit of being
as intelligent as we are.'' Danger! Danger! Straight line!! But
who are these blackguards who are out there laughing at you jerks
anyway?

``There are lots of people who laugh at their audience. Lots of
bands and lots of writers and lots of authors do it.''

``But let's face it -- rock music ain't Jesus Christ back on
earth,'' I said. ``It's simply another mode of entertainment.
It can be funny.''

``If you look at it that way. To me, it's a reflection of my life.
I spent the better part of my life learning how to do it, so to
me it's not a joke.''

Well, seeing that things were _really moving along_, I figured I'd
try the old aren't-you-guilty-now-that-you're-rich chestnut.

``Do you feel guilty at all about making as much money as you do
compared to other people who work every bit as hard as you do?''
I equivocated.

``Uh, no; on the contrary. There's no amount of money that could
pay you back for what you go through doing what we do.''

``What about other people?''

``Which other people?''

``You know, the ones that work for a living.''

``It's not really the same. I mean, I have done ordinary jobs.
You can't go out in from of 10,000 people and make a fool of yourself.
It's really not the same as going to work in a factory every day,
I'm sorry,'' he said, addending his nervous-tic laughter.

``But I've heard the Stones slop up some songs beyond belief -- I mean,
_the Stones_ -- I heard Keith Richard come in on a chorus of `Honky
Tonk Women' where there was no chorus! It was OK.''

``They're the people who laugh at their audience,'' explained the
patient Peart.

``The Stones?''

``Sure they do. You don't think they're good?'' This wasn't a question;
it was a statement.

``I think they've written a good song or two.''

``You can't say they're good musicians,'' countered Peart, who was
evidently talking about some other Stones than the ones I've been
listening to.

``They're good musicians. They're astute songwriters.''

``Astute? In other words, clever marketing strategists.''

A little later, this ``marketing'' baloney was sliced a little thicker.
We'd gotten around to the sophomoric ending of ``Spirit of Radio''
[sic] (``For the words of the profits are written on the studio
wall, concert hall/Echoes with the sound of salesman''); I'd asked
Peart if he was consciously emulating Paul Simon when he wrote it.

``This is where a sense of humor comes into it. I was sitting there
thinking of the conclusion of the song and the parody came into my
mind. And I thought, ``Well, either this is very stupid or it's
very great.''

Right.

``But all it says is...salesman as artists I can see as an ideal,
but they have no place telling us what to play onstage and they
have no place in the recording studio telling us how to write
songs...any more than a car salesman.''

``I imagine any band with integrity would feel the same way,''
I naively added.

``But your talking as if every band had that. They don't.''

``Well, I'm sure the Beatles didn't have some salesman standing
over their shoulders saying ``Hey, write `Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.' ''

``You must imagine that they lived with alot of pressure, though.
And you certainly can imagine -- well, it's a lot of speculation
involved, but I think it's safe to say that Paul McCartney does
not have a lot of artistic integrity.''

``Possibly. But on the other hand , there's no question that
Paul McCartney is a very talented person. He uses that talent 
in a certain way.''

``He's a prostitute.''

``Strong words. Very strong words.''

``Not to me,'' said Peart. ``I don't think a prostitute's an evil
thing.''

Nor do I. And -- again, there's a lot of speculation involved _here_,
too -- _I_ think it's safe to say that Paul McCartney cannot only play
the bass better than Geddy Lee (I won't mention the vocals), but that
he can also play guitar better than Alex Lifeson, play drums better
than Neil Peart, and _write_ about 80,000 times better than Rush
and the National Hockey League put together. I mean, if you think
``Mary Had a Little Lamb'' and ``Someone's Knocking'' were _outright
drivel_, I invite you to listen the [sic] ``The Temples of Syrinx''
or ``Cygnus X-1 Book II'' by Neil & Co.

Besides, McCartney's rich.

***

Well, well, well. Where does Peart get all these crazy ideas, anyway?
Now, I can't say _for sure_ -- but I asked him about their ubiquitous
logo (you know, the _really cool_ manandstar [sic]) and he said: ``All it
means is the abstract man against the mass [sic]. The red star symbolizes
any collectivist mentality.''

And now, to quote Ayn Rand (_For the New Intellectual_): ``(_The 
Fountainhead_) was published in 1943. Its theme is: _individualism
versus collectivism_ (my italics). The story presents the career
of Howard Roark, an architect and innovator, who breaks with tradition,
recognizes no authority but his own,'' etc. _ad nauseum_.

Not that we weren't tipped off early on, when -- while talking about
writers -- Norton said: ``What about Ayn Rand.''

``What about her?'' said Peart.

Well, we asked some really clever questions that are known only to
select rock critics (i.e. ``Do you read her?'' ``Do you like her?''),
when M.J. asked about Howard Roark. ``Would you identify with someone
like Howard Roark?'' asked my jaded cynical comrade.

``Certainly,'' said Peart, adding the inevitable tic-laughter.

``He was a motherfucker, he really was,'' said the always-slow-to-
express-himself Norton. ``He did what he wanted to...he was shunned
by society. Why don't you write an album about him? Howard Roark...
all the Howard Roarks there are in the world...''

``I think I have,'' Peart said, ``I think everything I do has Howard
Roark in it, you know, as much as anything. The person I write for
is Howard Roark.''

I don't want to add that many people consider Ayn Rand to be _prima
facie_ fascist, but I will anyway. Later I tried to pin Peart down
on his feelings toward the right wing. ``I have as many quarrels
toward the right wing, you know. I can't stand the whole concept of
law-and-order and authority and everything, which is obviously
the precept of right-wingism and you know it as well as I do. If 
you don't, you can take it to the bank.''

And no problem with the bank, eh? ``It is a life that no amount of
money can ever compensate for,'' the suffering drummer told me.
``That's why I could never, ever feel guilty about the dollar I
earn.'' You and McCartney, pal; you and McCartney.

 Saturday/The Second Interview: Dead tired, I went back to Cobo
early the next evening to talk with Alex Lifeson, Rush's guitarist.
Possibly the only _homo sapien_ [sic] in the group, Lifeson -- who looked
as beat as I felt -- donned a nondescript blue ski jacket and mittens
as we adjourned to a _very cold_ back room somewhere in the Cobo maze.

After Peart, anything short of William Shockley would be anticlimactic,
but Lifeson did his best to fulfill the interview obligation. He gave
me his opinion of the previous night's show (``...weird..this audience
is really a fired-up crowd; really a lot of pushing and shoving''),
success (``For us, everything has been a gradual climb''), and
his general dissatisfaction with performing(``It loses a specialness...
certainly, for me when we started out it was really exciting, but I
can't say that I feel the same anymore.'')

Lifeson was flat, bored, and probably distracted as well. He offered
none of the Peart hard-line, showing regret over missing his kid's
birthday (``again'') and enthusiasm over professional hockey. In 
other words, he seemed to be a normal person. Much more at ease
than Peart (Example: I asked them both why they don't put their
pictures on their album covers. ``We're not selling ourselves,''
said Peart. ``Well, their _inside_ the album,'' said Lifeson),
the guitarist seemed to be -- and this is only my impression --
looking for something interesting to do with his spare time.
He told me taht he builds models and has taking up flying to
occupy himself.

``I'm nobody special; it's no big deal,'' he said. ``I don't
think a lot of people _want_ to see it that way, really.''
Believe me, this guy takes some sort of Normal Pills. He did
let me in on the Rush songwriting m.o., which I must is a
seeming puzzler.

``Neil will bring down a draft of lyrics...and (Geddy and I)
will sit down together and take it from there.'' Jeez, I 
thought I felt sorry for him before...

  Saturday/The Denouement: I left Cobo with a backstage pass,
having no intention of sitting through another Rush extravaganza.
Throwing critical caution to the winds, I whipped my car to the 
front of the arena and looked for the youngest, most fresh-faced
Rush fan I could find. Two guys and two girls -- surely no more
than 17 -- came by.

``Are you two guys relly big Rush fans?'' I asked.

``Jesus, yes.''

``OK...here's a genuine, honest-to-God backstage pass that will
allow _you_ to go behind the scenes,'' I said, dangling the sticky
square. ``Just slap it on your leg and they shouldn't hassle you.''

One kid got down on his knees. ``What do I have to do?''

Throwing him the pass, I just said good luck.

 Saturday/Postscript: I would like to thank everyone who helped
make this story possible, in particular: Sherry Ring, Neil Peart,
Alex Lifeson, and Mark Norton.

Not to forget Geddy Lee, of course. I really enjoyed not talking to
you. In fact, I can't remember enjoying not talking to anyone as
much as I enjoyed not talking to you. Let's not talk again real
soon, OK?

----------------------------------------------------------

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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 274
********************************************



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