Rush- Grace Under Pressure 40th Anniversary- Neil Peart

When revisiting the Rush April 1984 release Grace Under Pressure, I had to double-check the math. Could Grace Under Pressure, in my mind that mid-period transitional album for the Toronto-based trio, really have been their tenth studio album in as many years? In hindsight, that kind of prolific output seems herculean, but it certainly did not diminish Rush’s appeal. However, Grace Under Pressure and its predecessor, 1982’s Signals, were not without controversy for the band’s longtime fans.”We weren’t ready to throw all of our abilities away,” explained Neil Peart, Rush’s peerless drummer and consummate lyricist, to me on the opening night of the Grace Under Pressure 1984 tour. “There was a school of minimalism that grew up in the late Seventies that tempted a lot of musicians toward it, and they just threw away everything they’d learned. And we were not ready to do that, but we WERE certainly ready to change it and present it in other ways, so that the music we are making now still continues to progress. And in a purely technical sense, our instinctive ability to handle it is so much more refined now.”

Yet when observing potential song subjects for 1984’s Grace Under Pressure, late Rush lyricist/drummer Neil Peart saw an uncanny number of troubling socio-political and technological issues which had become front page headlines again, and still remain stubbornly today. There’s “Distant Early Warning” (nuclear war); “Afterimage” (the death of a co-worker and a young life unrealized); “Red Sector A” (government-imposed concentration camps, about which Geddy Lee’s parents had first hand knowledge); “The Enemy Within” (self-doubt, anxiety); and “The Body Electric” (Peart’s prescient take on impending Artificial Intelligence); and the provincialism of silos of tribal isolationism. Here is my rare, in-depth classic rock interview with Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart which serves to reveal how deftly Toronto’s Hall of Famers  managed to maintain non-controversial low profiles, both individually and collectively, for the entire length of a prodigious  career (which is no minor feat), while simultaneously selling more than an estimated forty-five million albums worldwide.The late Neil Peart of Rush discussed it all with me on opening night of the Grace Under Pressure 1984 tour. –Redbeard