On January 7th of this year, Neil Peart, the drummer from the Canadian fusion/prog rock band Rush, died. In the musical world, he is widely referred to as the best drummer in history.
But I’m not into eulogies or mourning or anything of the sort. Instead, I’m using his death as an excuse to review one of Rush’s songs: “2112”.
In response to a request from their producer for a more “radio-friendly” album, Rush wrote, performed, and released their fourth studio album, titled 2112 after the first song on it. Of course, it wouldn’t be Rush if it was as simple as that. The first song on the album, “2112,” as I said, is an epic of more than twenty minutes in length.
The plot is a relatively simple one, much akin to that of Fahrenheit 451. It begins with a speech from a man named Father Brown, who speaks of how glorious their new society is being run by the Temples of Syrinx, a temple worshipping the computers in its halls, computers that allegedly contain all of humanity’s knowledge. That hard rock section of the song abruptly gives way to a more peaceful guitar piece about our unnamed protagonist discovering a guitar in a cave and slowly learning how to play it. When he brings his discovery to the priests believing that it will make the world a more beautiful place and add lots of color and art to life they destroy it, calling it “another toy that helped destroy the elder race of man.” As the protagonist walks home, he has a dream where an oracle comes to him and shows him the future where the elder race of man returns and takes back their home world, reinstill art into society. Wishing that this could one day come to pass, and knowing it can’t, the protagonist kills himself. If ending his life had been a less hasty decision, he would have seen the future he hoped for, because the elder race returned and overturned the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, doing just as the oracle foretold, proclaiming “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation! Attention all planets of the Solar Federation! Attention all planets of the Solar Federation! We have assumed control! We have assumed control! We have assumed control.”
I understand that the summary I have given seems rather unlike the plot of Fahrenheit 451, and I hope you can forgive the fact that I just can’t do it justice, and if you listen to the song you can see it.
To hear the plot for yourself, or just to hear a masterpiece of a song from the band who completely revolutionized drummers’ roles in in music, look up the full song or any of its seven parts (yeah, it has those).