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Jun 9, 2011

An appreciation of "Red Lenses": a brief look at the Rush composition from Grace Under Pressure

Neal Peart is the drummer in the Canadian power trio RUSH and tonight he will appear on Late Night with David Letterman as one of the featured performers during "drum solo" week.

I wanted to take a look back at a song of interest to me which is a showcase for the band and specifically Peart as a master drummer.

A random recipe for a rock song:

Mix together the following musical ingredients:

·         a healthy dose of Who swagger,

·         crisply defined, flanged- guitar riffs,

·         clean rock bass, propulsive drums,

·         and lyrical allusions to phobias, fear and communists.

As you move forward in the progression of the composition, you alternate between two bi-polar musical sections:

1.      an overall stealthy, undercover-cool spy groove which suggests a sense of control which surrounds and contains within it a secondary contrary musical part

2.     an intermittent syncopated section of material that conveys absurd mania and borderline insane feelings via dance rhythms that feature drumming skills of technically precise paranoiac percussion maneuvers that builds tension and annoys the listener who desires and seeks a return to the first section.

The sound elements within the song are unique to the group and not derivative, even though at the same time they clearly reveal a love of Keith Moon and Pete Townshend of The Who.

Continue this musical "struggle" for 4 minutes and 45 seconds, and you are left with an unusual mid-1980s offering of a well-performed, slickly produced, clever rock track entitled
"Red Lenses" by Rush.

As listeners to the song there is no way out of this alternating cycle other than through a fade-out. 

We will hear musical changes along the way. However as we listen there is recognition and perception of an impasse.

Lyrically there is a real world-topical-op-ed-item of anxiety (please fill in the blank with your concern) to consider and reflect upon; this anxiety is of a type that we find in the world and in life where change will not occur; we can only observe and worry and wonder about it as we visit this arena of the song and then exit.  We have experienced an uneasy balance of opposing forces in co-existence, an eternal struggle of polar ideas that remain at odds with each other.


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