Rush: Hold Your Fire

Recently my friend Jorge made an off-hand remark that we should listen to Rush's catalog together. He suggested that I pick an album and we'd spend the week listening to it. Not one to let a challenge like this go by I decided to take him up on it. I decided I'd start with the album that started it all for me:

Rush: Hold Your Fire.

Hold Your Fire came out in 1987. I was in high school doing what most kids in band did at the time: trash talk each other's musical taste. Unfortunately my musical taste was pretty much all over the place. My mom listened to a lot of classical music and boogie music while my dad listened to rock, country, and novelty music. I didn't have the same touchstones as many of the kids in school. While they were carving Hendrix and Ozzy into the school picnic table I was still trying to figure out what I liked. What I did know is that I wanted a CD player in the worst way possible. I worked an entire summer caddying and picked up the Sony Discman D-3 (which the internet seems to have forgotten). It had a rechargeable battery pack, strap, headphones, and an aux-out jack so I could hook it up to my stereo system (an old 8-track system with an aux-in jack and some car speakers mounted in wooden enclosures by my dad). I was digital ready before digital ready had become a cliche. I remember my first CDs were things like Bryan Adams "Into the Fire", Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet", and Joe Jackson's "Big World" (one of those albums is still in my collection). I would look at the top-40 lists to determine what I should pick up because I wanted popular music. I wasn't going to be pushed around for not liking the right stuff anymore. No Siree, I was going to be a connoisseur of music. It was around this time that I'd picked up Motley Crue's "Girls Girls Girls", Cinderella's "Long Cold Winter", and Def Leppard's Hysteria (along with Pseudo Echo's one hit in this country "Love an Adventure" which had their version of "Funkytown" on it). Yep, I was becoming more well versed in music. I scoffed at Genesis (which had that cheezy "Invisible Touch" album. Phil Collins? Pshaw!) and Yes wasn't even on my radar, having released 90125 years earlier.

It was Joe DeMatto that introduced me to Rush. He said something along the lines of "Neil Peart is the greatest drummer ever". What? How could this be? He wasn't as flashy as Tommy Lee, and wasn't playing for Bon Jovi like Tico Torres. Somehow Neil Peart wasn't part of my spheres of influence yet (which, albeit, was rather small). Words were exchanged, and I decided that I would try this Rush band on for size to see if this Neil Peart was all that.

My next trip to Harmony House proved fruitful. Whenever I checked out a band I would pick up their latest album, and Rush had just released "Hold Your Fire". This album was probably the best introduction to the band for me because I was really into that 1980s overproduced, keyboard-heavy music. I'd spent a lot of time growing up listening to electronic and proto-hip hop music on Detroit's WJLB by the incomparable Electrifying Mojo so I wasn't as down on electronic and keyboard-heavy music as some. And because I was a connoisseur I needed to have this album on compact disc.

I don't really remember the first time I heard this album. All I remember is that I wasn't entirely sure what I was listening to. Of all of the Rush albums this one doesn't reveal its secrets so quickly. It's about as poppy as Rush ever got, which is to say that the compositions are more subtle in their technical brilliance than others. It took me a few tries to really understand how complex this album is but once I did I was hooked. I needed more. This lead to me getting most of Rush's discography on tape and then later on compact disc. But those are stories for another time.

Without Hold Your Fire I might not be the huge Rush fan that I am today. But thanks to some off-hand comments and trash talking of drummers in high school band I now count Neil Peart as my drumming guiding star. Hold Your Fire was the album that got me to hope to win the raffle for Rush Tickets in high school (I didn't win, but I did get to see them on their next tour with Presto, so win win). It lit a fire within me that hasn't been quenched to do better and to strive for unattainable greatness.

If their lives were
Exotic and strange
They would likely have
Gladly exchanged them
For something a little more plain
Maybe something a little more sane

We each pay a fabulous price
For our visions of paradise
But a spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission...

"Mission" by Rush from Hold Your Fire