Photo: Neil Peart, Rolling Stone. Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images
Nostalgia, men and their music
Neil Peart, the Hall of Fame drummer for the rock band Rush, died on Tuesday at the age of 67. Mr. Peart’s passing sparked the desire to publish a post that’s been steeping for months. Please forgive me if there seems to be an air of opportunism in the timing of this written number; I mean no disrespect.
On to the music…
When I was but a wee lassy, I remember hearing my brother’s music blaring from his upstairs bedroom. (Why he had to play it so bloody loud, I’ll never know.) The Who, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Rush were all part of the heavy rotation. To this day, I am teleported back to my childhood whenever I hear Tom Sawyer, Baba O’Reilly, or Roundabout.
I never appreciated the significance of the lyrics (sorry, Brother) until decades later when, after a quick determination that I was terrible at playing Rock Band instruments, I was given the role of singer. “Hey, that’s really good! Did you know that’s what they said there?!” Yes, Kim, we did. Yes, yes, yes, it’s profound. You just lost us the game. Thanks a lot.
“But my dreams, they aren’t as empty,
As my conscience seems to be.
I have hours, only lonely.
My love is vengeance!
That’s never free.”
– Behind Blue Eyes, The Who
The dating years
My first boyfriend was a classic rock fiend. He had posters of Led Zepplin and The Doors plastered to his bedroom walls. He loved The Beatles. I was always suspicious of his taste in music, one that I felt should have been reserved for someone much older*. I suspect it had something to do with his parents who were, without a doubt, closet hippies. He couldn’t be that cool. Let’s date him to find out.
That same 14-year-old boy took me to my very first concert, The Bare Naked Ladies. Not bad. To this day, I’m still a fan of the group.
*I’ll never forget trying to argue with a Brownie that her taste in music would improve as she got older. She didn’t seem convinced. Kids.
My next serious boyfriend took me to my second ever concert, Me, Mom, and Morgentaler. It was Halloween night, 1993. I was shy and convinced to wear face makeup to the show because it would be “fun”. Needless to say, the makeup and the music were early warning signs that things weren’t going to work out. No, I don’t want to be your friend. I could give him credit for my eventual introduction and obsession with U2, but I refuse to give him credit. That one’s all mine.
A special mention goes out to the guy I dated who lived and breathed reggae. I always appreciated his authenticity. Him sending me songs pre-date to set a chill vibe was a nice touch.
I once went out on a date with a handsome fellow who was a fan of the Pixies. Sure, I knew who they were but I wouldn’t say I was a die-hard fan. Better to leave that fact for the second date. Coincidentally, while I was enjoying his company, an instrumental version of ‘Where Is My Mind‘ started playing at the bar. We never made it to the second date, but that song will stay with me forever. It is, quite simply, exquisite.
Speaking of friends
I have my earliest male friends to thank for my love of Pearl Jam. I’ll never forget the day one of them brought ‘Ten’ to the summer pool where we hung out. From then on, that album held a permanent spot in my 6-CD player. The song ‘Black’ was incessantly on repeat, probably in an attempt to forget the beforementioned boyfriends.
The Decade of Music
My longest relationship lasted 11 years. A decade is plenty of time to have your musical world shaken. Ben Folds, Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, and The National are now all cherished favourites. Many a memory comes attached to these bands’ songs. For that, I will be forever grateful. I truly feel I’m the luckiest girl for having been exposed to such poetry in rock form.
In return, I’ll take credit for the fact that the man in question now appreciates U2 far more than he did before he met me. How could he not be after seeing their Vertigo Tour…on the floor…in Montreal…and then again in London?
What’s to come?
Dare I say country. If I guy can get me to listen to the country, he might be a keeper.
What men and their music can offer us is heavy nostalgia, a connection to another time and place. What both have offered me is a chance at self-discovery. They have played a significant part in my coming-of-age story, pun intended.
When a love affair ends, when you lose track of friends, or when you’re separated from your sibling by several timezones, there’s always the music to help you remember.
“What is a master but a master student? And if that’s true, then there’s a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.”
P.S. Please enjoy a Spotify playlist inspired by the men from my life and their love of music. Remember that in order for artists to continue to produce the music we treasure, they need to be compensated. Think strongly about supporting musicians by buying a membership.