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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Neil Peart is #2 on Blender's list of "Worst Lyricists in Rock"

The 40 Worst Lyricists In Rock -- #10 to #2 Article on Blender :: The Ultimate Guide to Music and More 

According to, Neil Peart is #2 on their list of "40 Worst Lyricists in Rock." Sting is #1. In my opinion, these are two of the best lyricists out there.

Here's what they had to say:

02 Neil Peart
An ace on the rototoms, a train wreck on the typewriter.
Drummers are good at many things: exploding, drowning in their own vomit, drumming. But the Rush skinsman proved they should never write lyrics--or read books. Peart opuses like "Cygnus X-1" are richly awful tapestries of fantasy and science fiction, steeped in an eighth-grade understanding of Western philosophy. 2112, Rush's 1976 concept album based on individualist thinker Ayn Rand's novella Anthem, remains an awe-inspiring low point in the sordid relationship between rock and ideas. Worst lyric: "I stand atop a spiral stair/An oracle confronts me there/He leads me on light years away/Through astral nights, galactic days" ("Oracle: The Dream")

OK, I wasn't even going to post this story -- as this pointless list is only meant to inflame fans of the artists who are listed and get Blender a few web hits. But let's be honest here. Who are Jon Dolan, Josh Eells, Tim Grierson, Andrew Harrison, Ben Mitchell, Tony Power and Mark Yarm, and why are they uniquely qualified to tell us who is and isn't a good lyricist? Come to think of it, after reading through the list, just about everyone is on it -- from Paul McCartney to Robert Plant. If someone's not on the list, does that mean these sophomoric sultans of taste (Jon Dolan et al.) think they're good lyricists?

And why are these writers against lyricists reading books and infusing ideas into songs? Perhaps they subscribe to the idea that a rock lyric should only be about meaningless debauchery, nihilism, drugs, and sex. Or perhaps they subscribe to the "drummers are stupid" stereotype that has been proven wrong again and again.

Finally, using Cygnus and 2112 are cheap shots at Neil. He would most likely agree that the lyrics for these songs are "doggerel" (as he once said about "The Trees"), but there's something obviously important about them. 2112 was the first Rush album to reach Gold status, and Cygnus X-1 was at the top of the list for songs fans wanted to hear live in an Internet poll. Neil was developing as a songwriter during this period, when he was 23 or 24 years old. If you're going to put the man down, at least do it with his most recent work.

I'm filing away this list into the same category as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and many other Rolling Stone lists, along with People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People." Perhaps someone forgot to tell these journalists (Jon Dolan et al.) that Rush has proven itself to be relevant, and that they're still selling out arenas 33 years after they started. I wonder if Jon Dolan et al. will be writing articles 33 years from now?

PS - Neil has never played "rototoms," which proves these guys didn't even do their research. The correct term would have been "concert toms." But the sentence they constructed, "An ace on the rototoms, a trainwreck on the typewriter" doesn't even capture the hip alliteration these writers were going for. To me, it's just sloppy writing and poor editing.


posted by AndyO @ 10:22 AM   8 comments