The Beat of a Different Drummer

My love for rock ‘n roll began early in my life because of the influence of my older siblings. When the Beatles invaded America, it was my oldest brother who began smuggling their music into our home unbeknownst to our parents. It was useless for my parents and their generation to think they could stop or even slow down the invasion because their music was playing on every AM radio station. When we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, which was my folk’s favorite TV program, the music scene would never be the same!

When I got to high school, a new group of friends introduced me to a new band that I had never heard of named Rush. The very first song I listened to was “Working Man”…

and thus began my lifelong love affair with this Canadian rock band. Rush, known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs, drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy and philosophy, has always had such a unique sound like no other band, and I loved it!

When I saw the first news alert on January 10 “Legendary drummer Neil Peart of Rush has died,” although I was surprised, it didn’t sink in.

It wasn’t until later that day when I got a text message from my good friend from high school, who was with me when we saw Rush live in concert in the mid-70s, whichsaid “I’m sad, just saw that Neil Peart the Rush drummer died. He was maybe the best in the world!” That’s when it really hit me and began to sink in.

I immediately went to YouTube and searched Rush. One of the first videos that caught my eye was “Rush – Xanadu” (the official music video). I put on my headphones and cranked it up as loud as I could and listened to one of my absolute favorite Rush tunes!

My mind’s eye brought me back in time to 1974 to the front row seats at the International Amphitheater in Chicago where we witnessed my favorite group up close and personal playing this song. I always thought it was the unique vocal sound of Geddy Lee and the incredible guitar riffs of Alex Lifeson that attracted me most, but now I know it was the creative genius of Neil Peart that was the driving force behind my musical attraction to Rush. (This Xanadu video highlights the hallmarks of classic Rush ballads, at least 10 minutes in length, complexity, and deep philosophical lyrics.)

Over the next few days I devoured any YouTube videos I could find on Neil Peart and Rush, interviews, documentaries, and other songs and concerts. I was fascinated to learn about some of the passions that were deep within this iconic drummer. The interview with George Stroumboulopoulos highlights what lies beneath the beat of this drummer.

What I enjoyed most about this journey of discovery into who the man was beneath the Rush drummer, is how Neil never backed down on following the beat of his own drums, no matter what anyone else thought, especially the music critics.

Are you aware of the purpose for which your own drum beats? If you don’t know or you are not sure, don’t worry, you are not alone. Focus on your God-given gifts/talents and your passions, and then look at the people you can serve with those gifts/talents and your passions, and your purpose will emerge! Neil used his gifts of writing lyrics and his passion for drumming to serve people by allowing them to be inspired and moved by the music he created through Rush. He understood his purpose!

Neil died at the young age of 67; let his death be a reminder to all of us. No one lives forever, and no one knows exactly when our time on this planet will come to an end. Are we living our lives according to what we are called to do?

What are you waiting for?

Here are Neil Peart’s top 10 rules for success where he leaves all of us some pearls of wisdom, as only one of the greatest drummers of all time could do.

This is one Rush fan that will miss you and your gifts!

Neil Peart, rest in peace.

Matthew Berrafato

The Elephant Hunter