Blog | The Soundtrack of Life – Rush’ YYZ
‘The Soundtrack of Life’ is the red line woven into our veins growing up. Highs and lows connected with music, songs and albums that landed deep in our DNA. A legacy of music resonating… a soundtrack.
Ever since Neil Peart’s `Growth Rings’ documentary I embraced his view on life and music. What unexplainable songs you sing along to, even when they are markers of a specific period or genre or a complete turnoff, sticking with you for the rest of your life. Peart believed the vibration and resonance of specific songs and music convey into the depth of our human DNA once it links on the same level. Scent and surroundings start to surface once you submerge into music. Emotional discharge of vibes and resonation on our subconscious ‘me’, linking your past and present.
Since, I have started collecting my memories and stories in a book, much like Peart’s `Travelling Music’ took shape, drawing up my soundtrack and reflection on influences as a songbook for my daughter. This blog features a collection of memories and stories from my expanding soundtrack of life…
The international IATA Morse code counts off the musical bliss that is `YYZ’. Crowds cheer it on and the Canadian trio dives into this instrumental masterpiece with drum and bass rendering the Morse code spelling `YYZ’ in 5/4 timing. Virtuoso as it sounds melodic, the song displays the creativity and musical genius composing of Rush.
It was February of 1982, the day before my birthday turning 12. Kicking back in the attic where I had built a small hide out with a stereo and speakers. My desk facing the door, large window in my back, cardboard walls with no plaster. It was the upstairs of what used to be an old farmhouse, with our bar downstairs. Large attic that also featured the heritage of one of my dad’s friends whose brother committed suicide. Stowed away nicely, it featured a lot of musical assets. He used to be a big Beatles fan, collecting the world of his favorite band. Audiophile as well, with the high-end stereo set, speakers and headphones I was allowed to use in my hide out.
A DIFFERENT DAY
The door swayed open, my uncle entering. About 15-years older than me, he was the frequent concert goer and music addict of the family. Taking me around Europe to attend football games and sports events, the music he intricately loved was bestowed upon me almost weekly. He introduced me to a wide array of classics and modern flavours. From The Band and Alice Cooper (`Halo of Flies’), to Led Zeppelin’s `Whole lotta Love’ and the Ska of The Selecter with `Hands off She’s Mine’, Devo and Police.
But today was different!
With Kiss injecting the hard rocking pulse into my veins since their radio wave domination of `Dynasty’, he came to bring me my birthday present. A shiny and colorful album was presented: Kiss’ `Alive II’. The colorful artwork instantly made my heart skip a beat. The needle lowered into the groove for a first spin, uncle Jo mentioned to play ,,Christine Sixteen”, he dubbed “… the only song worthwhile”. He opened his shopping bag once more and let that other album slide into his hands. Carefully balancing it he took the pouch from its cover. Removing the vinyl from its anti-static pouch, he handed it to me, at the same time teaching me how to specifically hold and balance the vinyl preventing fingers to touch the surface.
Lessons learned I put it onto my player and was introduced to this band he was referring to as the ‘best band in the world’.
RUSH – YYZ
The needle touched the groove delicately with crowd fading in as Geddy announces “this is Spirit of Radio”. It was certainly too much to handle at first spin and Geddy’s vocals where my initial turn-off. Seeing my uncle almost going bonkers, I realized this must be special. The keys tingling around the drizzle of Alex’ guitars won me over, and slowly but surely, I was lured into the music. The raining and reverbing guitar melody and Neil’s enigmatic drums made for magic. Magic that was bestowed upon me when uncle Jo skips track to introduce `YYZ’ to me. The song’s time changes and intricate playing, fused onto the Morse code rendition of Toronto’s IATA code carried across so much intense interplay, it baffled me.
THE TECHNICAL ABILITIES OF RUSH
The staccato drum patterns and rhythm changes landed deep in my vein, with Geddy’s growling bass licks and ponderous groove upholding a tedious tempo that carries the trident of sound forward. Especially Lee’s low thunderous bass makes my blood boil, the Akai speakers delivering the massive sound conveying the low-end perfectly. Lifeson’s chordal riffs are elegant as it pumps into the shuffling Ska-like section with short blissed solo-spots that displays the player’s technical abilities. “wait for it!”, my uncle raising expectations.
He was refereeing to what followed: Peart’s drum solo!
Returning to the fold with a raining guitar solo welling into the synth breakdown by Lee, technicality and musical mastery where fused onto the pompous segments which would mark the later dominance in modernity the band followed on the high-tech albums landing even deeper in my gut. It was this bliss of musicality and excitement carving their name into my soul for… well… ever!
It was there and then I realized I was introduced to the band creating the musical soundtrack to my teen years. And more dominantly; my life.
All photos by Edwin van Hoof