Deep Tracks

The recent death of Neil Peart has renewed my interest in the dusty Rush albums that have long been neglected in my playlist. Lucky for me, hubby gifted me access to SiriusXM Radio, which affords many options in genre, as well as featured artists on 24/7 repeat. Not surprising, when a favorite artist passes, one of the stations will feature their lifework for a limited time, giving listeners and fans an all access experience to music they may never hear otherwise.

Since my commute is approximately 30 minutes each way, that works out to be about 9 – 10 randomly picked Rush songs per day, which feels strange because I would typically have listened to these albums from Side A to Side B… and thankfully, with the come-back of the turntable, my kids now know what I am talking about!

I miss the excitement of finding and purchasing a newly released album from a brick and mortar retail store, then bringing it home to listen on the living room stereo or bedroom boombox. From track one to the last, it was a lay-on-the-bed, chill-on-the floor, do-not-disturb, kind of event. It has been years since I last experienced the thrill of hearing a long-anticipated, new, complete album… perhaps even decades (the 1986 ‘Chicago 18’ album comes to mind).

Goooo-oood times. And I am not just saying that to be nostalgic. There are plenty of things I do not miss from the good ‘ol days… like driving to the video store with ump-teen kids who cannot decide on a single movie, so we rent five or six and then end up paying late fees on them all. Whoever created Netflix… probably knows that pain.

But back to the music…

1988

As a Canadian and wanna-be-rockstar (see above), not knowing the impact Peart had on so many young musicians and fans, would be impossible. He is legendary. As I listen to songs that are vaguely familiar from hanging around a friend who was obsessed with Rush, to songs that have been carved into my ears from rehearsals and performances I attended long ago while dating a promising drummer, I am once again stunned by the oozing skill and depth of the masters behind these songs. And if that wasn’t enough, Brené Brown is also a Rush fan… just saying.

I have been listening intently as I drive, delighted that there are plenty of Rush records I am discovering for the first time. I guess I never looked far enough to hear them… and perhaps a fitting reason they are called… deep tracks. This got me to thinking. Do I have deep tracks? Let’s dig in a little…

Rush made over 50 studio, live, compilation or video albums, produced 33 music videos, 38 singles and 2 EP’s. All together they crafted 24 gold, 11 platinum and 3 multi-platinum records, but only one single made the top 40 hitlist. A solitary song rose to top 40 status. One.

Seems odd, right? Bands that sit with them at the top of all-time album sales… The Beatles, The Rolling Stones… are top-hit bands that anyone could karaoke if the chance arose. For enthusiasts, you will no doubt be nodding your head and thinking, that was the point. Rush was not trying to be ‘top 40’. They were not chasing the next big hit song, even though hundreds of songs came from the confluence of this masterful trio’s creativity.

Immersed in imaginative phrasing, poetic lyrics and non-standard rhythm patterns, the listener’s simple heartbeat is challenged… regular breathing is interupted… and you cannot help but pay attention. This is three humans generously layering their creativity to share what matters most to them. More than just interesting musical choices, Rush chose to represent themselves and their music authentically, and fans around the world loved them for it… without the hits.

Is this the point; embracing the deep tracks as though they are the hits? Sitting with the tricky bits of life long enough to feel and see them for what they are… PART of the story, but not THE story.

I get it. The deep stuff is dark… hard… and sometimes really scary. Worry, pain and despair can feel like a spreading net over a bottomless pit, and we are trapped in it, without escape or rescue. No control, and no end in sight.

Stuck.

Stuck has been a popular topic here on Finding 52! Living, breathing and moving through the stuff that would bog and clog us into living in the ruts; because it is the real work.

From one day to the next, not knowing if the work will be plummettng gracefully toward emotional disaster or tenaciously inching toward a faint glimmer of hope… getting unstuck over and over again… by refusing to stay captive to feelings.

Maybe that is part of our purpose, learning how to live in the deep tracks. I have been chasing ‘top 40 hit’ life moments since I can remember. The addition of cataloguing all those near hits on a web of social media sites in the last decade has not helped me achieve them. Quite the contrary.

In those arenas, enough noise, confusion and dischord arises to silence any music that might still be waiting to emerge. Time to shake out some new tunes!

I would like to speak/pray/hope/sing this into my life:

Most days are going to be deep track days, some just a few feet below surface and some infinitely ‘abyss-mal’. They are holding me, molding me, and making me strong enough for the few days that will seem like I’ve made the top 40. I will celebrate those days and gratefully accept that I may never have a greatest hits album or star in a docu-drama feature film. But, I will have a deep, meaningful story that can be shared with anyone who cares to listen.

Fear and shame tell me to hide those old tracks and pretend there never was anything but greatest hits moments. Pretend. Deny. Avoid uncomfortable conversations… with myself.

Nope! It all made me. I get to choose what to do with these moments and feelings, so here it goes… my next ‘album’ will be a whole life’s-work of melody, harmony, dissonance and off-key capo’s… perhaps not the thing for everyone’s taste, but hoping this audience will love it.

Deeee-eep Tracks.

Live ‘em. Love ‘em.

AJ

Photo cred – S.H.

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