I wasn't going to blog about Rush this week-- there are so many other things to talk about (not that talking about Rush isn't important too). But then I started getting all the emails and posts on social media: so many people have been getting in touch over the past several days, telling me how sad they are that this may well be the final time Rush tours. International fans are facing the prospect that Rush will never come to their country; US and Canadian fans are facing the prospect that this the end of an era. And maybe it is.
But then again, maybe it isn't. Let me first say I have no inside information. I've asked Alex about it, and he told me that this tour was unique because the band was focused on the "now" rather than making any future plans. It was almost liberating to do it that way-- taking it a day at a time, with nothing hanging over them, nothing to worry about, just getting out there and playing music for the fans. Simple, really. And yet, disconcerting for the rest of us. Fans want certainty, and I can understand that. They love this band, and not knowing what the next thing is can be terrifying. Is this the end of live tours? For more than forty years, fans (including me) have had the comfort of knowing that Rush was still out there performing. Millions of people saw them. Friendships were forged at Rush concerts, and numerous fans (and fans-to-be) gathered before, during, and after a concert just to share the experience and keep it alive a little longer.
For some of these fans, especially those whose love and loyalty spans forty years, this feels almost like a death in the family. No, I am not trying to be melodramatic-- people really bonded with this band, and felt like they had some personal connection to the guys. Of course, you can say that about any band, but somehow, based on what I saw over the decades, the connection to Rush was something special, something unique. It was often based on gratitude: appreciation for how Rush's songs had spoken to the fans in a personal way, how the music had changed their lives for the better, how the lyrics had eloquently expressed their own emotions. Fans understood that they probably would never hang out with Geddy, Alex or Neil; and yet, these guys still felt like trusted friends. They were not the typical rockers-- they cared about philanthropy, they cared about ethics, and they cared about their skills as musicians. They never had a big top forty hit, nor were they willing to compromise their art in order to have one, and yet they earned the respect of their peers in the music industry (including other musicians), as well as earning the respect of fans world-wide.
So, while I can't predict the future, I can say that I believe we will still see Rush performing again. I doubt there will be any prolonged tours, but perhaps small ones or perhaps what Geddy discussed when he suggested a series of performances in one city. But sooner or later, there will be opportunities to create new music or make some appearances. It won't be like it was over the past forty years; but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I know from first-hand experience that everything changes: in my own life, I had to leave radio and reinvent myself as a college professor. The guys in Rush are now in their early 60s, and they too will be making some changes. I keep thinking about the lyrics to a song that is not by Rush-- a top-40 hit from 1998 by Semisonic called "Closing Time," which contains a line that has always seemed very astute: "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." And so we find ourselves at the end of one cycle. But rather than mourning what we lost, I suggest that we look forward to what is yet to be. Only Geddy, Alex, and Neil know what that will look like. I trust them to do the right thing, for themselves, their families, and the fans.