Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March is Mostly Mets Reading Month: 'Roadshow' talks about Neil Peart, motocycles and 'magic shows'

Is it possible to include Rush in both of our March blog themes? 

“Roadshow: Landscape with Drums. A concert Tour by Motorcycle” by Neil Peart
Published in 2006

The danger of meeting people you’ve admired from afar is that they just not like you expected them to be.

I know I would have been a puddle had Tom Seaver been unfriendly when I finally met him at an autograph show in 1988. Seaver, in fact, was wonderful and provided a lifetime memory and a reward for the years of fandom.

But I was a little apprehensive when I picked up “Roadshow,” a book by Rush drummer Neil Peart. There’s a chance I based an entire school year of art projects on his lyrics.

The book describes how Peart brings his BMW motorcycle on tour, taking the scenic route between gigs. He has adventures along the way, and we learn about the many things that go into taking a popular band on the road.

We’ve always known that Peart is a gifted writer, and the pages turn effortlessly. What I didn’t know is that he’s kind of a quirky, prickly person. He talks about enjoying performing, but not encountering fans. There are many tales of fans interrupting his privacy for this or that. If encountered in public, he wants a simple “Thank you for the music,” and then to be left alone.

Good to know, and that’s certainly his right. It explains the “Limelight” lyrics. But it doesn’t necessarily make for enjoyable reading, as it comes up a lot.

What I did really enjoy is when the focus shifted to the concerts, and some of the people and activities that take place behind the curtain. I especially liked hearing about what the musicians call “magic shows” – when everything is just perfect.

Here’s a passage talking about the phenomena:

“That night in San Antonio, even when I sat down at the practice kit for my seven o’clock warm up, I could feel it – what baseball pitchers call their ‘stuff.’ Hands and feet worked smoothly together like they wanted to, sticks and beaters struck clean and true and everything I played flowed out with controlled fire.

“I had my stuff, and the stars and planets must have been aligned, too. The show poured out of us like a force of nature, sweeping out in waves from the stage and the lights and the speaker cabinets, ebbing and flowing over a cheering, smiling, delighted crowd. We were all locked together in a long, timeless moment of sublime pleasure, and as song after song played out into the ether, I felt energized and ever more determined to make this the one.

Pretty cool, right? 

As you know from the R40 Countdown posts, Will and I are headed to see  Rush in Chicago in June, and I’ll be looking for signs of magic. But we'll keep our distance from Neil, offering a wave and a "Thank you -- very much -- for the music" if we see him on the BMW. 

Your reading list so far:

March 5: "Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century" by Marc Okkenon
March 4: "Clemente! The Enduring Legacy" by Kal Wagenheim 
March 3: "Mets by the Numbers" by Jon Springer and Matthew Silverman
March 2: "Faith and Fear in Flushing" by Greg W. Prince

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