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Monday, December 07, 2015

Neil Peart talks about retirement in new interview

Updated, now that I've read the full interview (thanks, John, at!)


In a new Drumhead interview, Neil discusses his professional retirement. Here are the important excerpts:

Lately Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as "my dad - he's a retired drummer." True to say - funny to hear. At the Bowl, two fine drummers appealed to dad's professional (retired) appreciation: Paul Garisto nailing the perfect balance of aggressive and artful rhythmic drive for the Furs, and Sterling Campbell laying down a powerful, solid groove for the B-52s - wonderfully abetted by Tracy Wormworth's muscular and immaculate bass playing.

Now after fifty years of devotion to hitting things with sticks, I feel proud, grateful and satisfied. The reality is that my style of drumming is largely an athletic undertaking, and it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to ... take yourself out of the game. I would much rather set it aside than face the predicament described in our song "Losing It." (From 1982 it was performed live for the first time on our fortieth anniversary tour, R40, in 2015). In the song's two verses, an aging dancer and a writer face their diminishing, twilight talents with pain and despair, ("Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it.")

You have to know when you're at the top of your particular mountain, I guess. Maybe not the summit, but as high as you can go. I think of a Buddy Rich quote I used in a book, Roadshow, about our R30 tour, ten long years ago: "Late in his life, Buddy Rich was asked if he considered himself the world's greatest drummer, and he gave an inspiring reply: 'Let's put it this way: I have that ambition. You don't really attain greatness. You attain a certain amount of goodness, and if you're really serious about your goodness, you'll keep trying to be great. I have never reached a point in my career where I was totally satisfied with anything I've ever done, but I keep trying.'"

I recently picked up another great quote, this one from Artie Shaw. As many readers will know, he was a celebrated big-band leader and clarinetist (he called Benny Goodman "the competition") who famously gave up playing at age forty-four. This summation of his career really resonates with me now. "Had to be better, better, better. It always could be better...When I quit, it was because I couldn't do any better."

What does all this mean? As we suspected, Neil won't be going out on any major tours with Rush. But I don't think it means he won't record any new music. We'll need to wait and see...

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posted by AndyO @ 5:44 PM   6 comments