We Found The First Rush Song That Has Neil Peart On Vocals
via CBC News: The National / Youtube
From the beginning, Neil Peart preferred expressing himself through his music. While he was undoubtedly one of the greatest drummers in the world, Peart was never one to boast about his skills on camera. He was content to remain in the background, pouring his passion into his drumming for every Rush song. Although Geddy Lee handled most of the vocals, Peart occasionally stepped up to the microphone.
Neil Peart’s Contributions to Rush
His debut on the album Fly By Night marked a significant departure from the original drummer, John Rutsey. Taking inspiration from drumming legends like John Bonham and Keith Moon, Peart demonstrated how to make drums a focal point in a song. He played melodic drum fills that enhanced the music without being overly flashy.
In addition to his drumming prowess, Peart’s literary talents made him the band’s go-to lyricist. While Lee had written a few lyrics in the early days, Peart’s unique perspective on the world resulted in some of the most sophisticated lyrics in progressive rock history. His contributions enriched songs like “Limelight” and “Closer to the Heart.”
Although the band’s grandiose tracks didn’t always translate into blockbuster record sales, Peart was resolute in creating the music he believed in, regardless of the circumstances. When pressured to produce hit singles, Peart’s defiance shone through in 2112, a 20-minute epic about space federations.
A Concept Album That Still Resonates Today
Motivated by the label’s push for commercial material, Peart developed a concept centered on various planets within a solar federation governed by a group of high priests. In the story, when the narrator discovers a guitar, the priests disdainfully destroy the instrument, denouncing all forms of creative expression.
In the song’s climactic section, the oppressive federation is overthrown by another order, with Peart delivering the memorable line, “Attention all planets of the solar federation, we have assumed control.” According to Peart, this marked a triumphant ending to the story. He explained:
“That’s the good guys. That’s the cavalry coming in at the end, so to me, it had a happy ending.”
Although the song became a landmark in Rush’s career, it was one of the rare instances where Peart took on a vocal role.
Over the next few years, the band’s rising fame led Peart to avoid the limelight, which inspired him to write “Limelight” about his struggles with celebrity. After a few tours, Peart felt the urge to step up to the microphone once more, resulting in the song “Subdivisions.”
Given the band’s affinity for synthesizers, the song’s title was coined by Peart himself. He sang it in a robotic voice with heavy reverb, fitting seamlessly into the chorus sections. Peart never aimed to be the next Freddie Mercury; he was content behind his drum kit. But whenever he did speak up, fans paid close attention to what “The Professor” had to say.