So. I had a great evening, out with a group of friends from ancient days, for The Irish Endlessly Rock Day (that's St. Patrick's Day) at Chickie's & Pete's sports bar. ESPN says it's the third best sports bar in the nation. Whoah. I had never been there before. I had a whiskey and a few beers, along with my crab fries (never had them before, but I think I could eat them almost every night) and roast beef and cheese sammich. On the way home it snowed; what glory!
So. This morning I found some more commentaries in our Rush Group, which by the way I happen to know actually gets its posts read by the members of Rush themselves. One guy, whom I will call "Mac", really tore the band's new song (and new album, as yet unheard but for the one song) to shreds with a firey polemic the other day, and a few of us kinda took the firehoses to it. He then issued an apology, not for his opinion but for his ferocity. Then another guy said that he did not need to apologize. So. Here's my essay in response to alla that.
It's true that "Mac" is certainly entitled to his opinion. But, as he himself pointed out, his opinion was expressed in a way that even he himself, upon reflection, realized was not objective in certain ways. He was frothing at the mouth and at the keyboard, and I think some of his own spit got caught on his screen and blurred his vision.
He also opined that this whole album would suck based on this one song that he does not like. Again, Mac himself is saying that he knows that was not objective, just ranting.
All that we were really trying to say is that the ranting clouded his expressed perception of what he heard. If he still does not like the song, then so be it. He does not have to like the song. He can hate the song.
Personally, I don't understand most of the criticisms that anybody (not just Mac) has expressed about "Far Cry" thus far. I went and listened to the song another dozen times yesterday (I bought some new headphones), and I love it. I am a classically-trained amateur musician and a professional writer who has had poetry published, so I am listening and thinking with an informed perspective. I don't house any illusions that that makes me perfect and I don't think the members of Rush are perfect, either. However...
The song is not as simplistic as it's being made out to be. As far as the lyrics go, how can they be at once pedantic and too simple? They're not the most philosophically abstruse that Neil has ever written, but they're not even close to being feckless either, and given the subject matter I think they're a hand-in-glove fit.
I consider that Rush are trying deliberately to come up with a musical expression for the typically unreflecting faith and enthusiasm of people that would be aligned with the Christian Right, the kind of people who wrote about Rush being Satanic years ago. Neil wrote the lyrics to reflect an apocalyptic and a social-Christian perspective on how the world is not developing along the lines that the faithful were always so sure that it would with their values at the helm of the ship. This is an emotionally charged theme in a world where the music has turned raw; I consider that the song is meant to reflect the emotions of the theme.
Even I personally would rather have heard a "Turn the Page" style wicked-bad solo from Alex; but I don't think that his whammy-bar sustained precious few solo notes are as easy for a cat to play as has been made out.
My point is not that Mac or anyone else has to like the song, and Mac is free to never, ever want to hear that song again. But I do think that first comes an attempt at understanding and appreciating what Rush is maybe trying to get across musically and poetically, instead of coming off sounding like one of the typical so-called "rock music critics" who's in his cups.
"To each his own" is only a half-truth and, like reasoning, it's partly insane. I think we need to be careful in this present "almost glowing" world not to confuse our rights with what is right, just like we need to be careful not to mistake the goods for what is good.