For 30 years, drummer, author, and songwriter Neil Peart had wanted to write a book about "the biggest journey of all in my restless existence: the life of a touring musician." Finally, the right time, and the right tour.
In the summer of 2004, after three decades, 20 gold albums, and thousands of performances spanning four continents, the band Rush embarked on a celebratory 30th Anniversary World Tour. The "R30" tour traveled to nine countries, where the band performed 57 shows in front of more than half a million fans. Uniquely, Peart chose to do his between-show traveling by motorcycle, riding 21,000 miles of back roads and highways in North America and Europe - from Appalachian hamlets and Western deserts to Scottish castles and Alpine passes.
Roadshow illuminates the daunting rigors of a major international concert tour, as well as Peart's exploration of the scenic byways and country towns along the way. His evocative and entertaining prose carries the listener through every performance and every journey, sharing the bittersweet reflections triggered by the endlessly unfolding landscape. Observations and reflections range from the poignantly, achingly personal to the wickedly irreverent.
Part behind-the-scenes memoir, part existential travelogue, Roadshow winds through 19 countries on both sides of the Atlantic, in search of the perfect show, the perfect meal, the perfect road, and an elusive inner satisfaction that comes only with the recognition that the journey itself is the ultimate destination.
The inner workings of the tour, the people Peart works with and the people he meets, the roads and stages and ever-changing scenery - all flow into an irresistible story.
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A Hackneyed Polemic by a Supposed Objectivist
It would have been so much better if accompanied by a pdf download of photographs. Peart is a fair author. Not great, not bad, but fair. His descriptions are somewhat illustrative and helpful for the imagination of the listener but photos would have really added needed color.
As a RUSH fan of over 30 years and as a drummer who, like all drummers, loves to watch Peart play, I was truly shocked at the outright anti-Christian tone of the book. I am a Christian academic who works daily with other university intellectuals who do not share my faith. They never resort to invective in our discussions because I assume that they know that I respect and love them as Christ taught and they respect my objective analysis and scientific rigor within my field.
Peart sadly, lacks such class. That would be disappointing to me if I were a younger man because of my love for RUSH's music and their phenomenal creativity. As an older man with some mileage and wisdom, I hope, I have learned as Taylor Swift might say, "Haters Gonna Hate", and I can separate my analysis of Peart's anti-Christian ignorance from his incredible musical talent and showmanship.
He should understand that there are a lot of folks like me in his audience who have helped him afford his trips to Lake Como. Thus it might behoove him to tone it down a little or at least find some time to actually investigate a cross-section of American Evangelicals with the same rigor that he seems to apply his investigative expertise in his other adventure travels before he chooses to castigate a class of millions. As the saying goes, "To assume..."
The book would have been far better had Peart himself narrated. Mr. Peart has an enjoyable and melodious voice and I have enjoyed his personal interviews. I think in the future he should tell his own stories. Sutherland was mellow to the point of nearly sleep inducing at times. Add to that odd overdubs where the timber of his voice changes and it was not an optimal narration.
As a symbol of what I think Mr. Peart was trying to convey; the laboriousness of a major rock tour, yes. I was ready for it to be over around London as I think Mr. Peart was as well, but the story is great if you enjoy the vastness of the world and descriptions of the terrain and places to which Peart motorcycled. The brief glimpses into the actual playing were also interesting but little is added to the knowledge of the band as individuals other than Peart exposing himself as an anti-Christian bigot who, at least at the time he wrote it, portends to be objective, rational and shy while seeming to lose his shyness any time another unfamiliar celebrity that he takes interest in shows up for a chat.
Peart clearly arrogates to himself the role of proclaiming to the world the "extremism" of American evangelicals and I gather exposing any who would identify themselves in that manner as ignorant clods not worthy of the sort of Epicurean existence that he fawns over while in Europe.
He somehow forgets that his very profession, dependent upon the right of free expression, celebrates individualism and freedom of thought, while he takes great pleasure in repeatedly blasting the sort of philosophical tidbits found on Christian Church signage.
Apparently Mr. Peart at the time of his writing had not found the time to actually read the implications of Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything in which Bryson, who clearly is not in the camp of young earth creationists is still objective enough to lay out in mathematical terms the improbability of the very things into which materialists and biological determinists seem to place all their hope.
Sadly, as well read as Peart is, he seems to have greatly shortchanged himself of any serious study into Christian apologetics,objective commentary by Christian philosophers, mathematicians, physicists and scientists who actually try to reconcile observed scientific findings with observed non-Newtonian order and concepts of the soul and consciousness.
And all of this is just a pity because Peart is a very creative and artistic musician. His music is inspired but he chooses the very intolerant (dare I say, Non-Canadian?) path of denigrating an entire group of people simply because he, a simple musician, without any letters in any scientific discipline that I know of, assumes his own omniscience about the things that very serious academics still wrestle with on complex terms.
So is it worth listening too? Hmmm, I doubt I will ever listen to another one of his books and I certainly won't add this to my permanent hard cover collection, as I did Bryson's book, but if you enjoy RUSH and you want to see the self-professed inner conflicts, logical inconsistencies and hypocrisy of one of their members, then yes, it is worth the listen.
I read Ghost Rider on my second tour of Iraq. A fellow RUSH fan gave it to me and I really identified with Pearts' loss of his daughter and partner. I was happy for him that he found his new wife and I wish the best for him; as I would for anyone who endured the same loss. His writing has not matured since Ghost writer but it is heartfelt and so the two books have given me a picture of an interesting individual and thus for that purpose they are worth investigating.
I will still listen to RUSH, watch their videos and wish them success in their professional and personal lives. One would hope that at some point Peart will lose his inner anger and wish the same for those he hates.
- Todd R Fredricks
Enjoyable, even for a non-fan of Rush
- Jim In Texas! "I'm just a big kid."