If Rush’s epic rock songs “2112” or “Anthem” are massaging your brain at high volume right now, then you know how great a loss the death of songwriter and drummer Neil Peart is to rock and roll...and to liberty. Peart, who died today of brain cancer, wrote “2112” in part as an homage to Ayn Rand’s 1938 dystopian novella Anthem.
Ayn Rand was a major influence on Peart’s early career. He told Rolling Stone that her philosophy, for him, was “an affirmation that it’s all right to totally believe in something and live for it and not compromise.” In a Guardian interview he singled out Rand as “a very brilliant woman, an excellent writer, but a brilliant thinker as well. She has a great clarity of thought.”
Both the words and the music of “2112” capture the soaring vision of Rand’s fiction. Here is the hero of the song reflecting on man’s greatness: “I stand atop a spiral stair/An oracle confronts me there/ He leads me on light years away/ Through astral nights, galactic days/ I see the works of gifted hands/ That grace this strange and wondrous land/I see the hand of man arise/ With hungry mind and open eyes.”
And Rush’s “Anthem”: Live for yourself, there's no one else/More worth living for/ Begging hands and bleeding hearts will/ Only cry out for more.”
Turn up the volume. RIP Neil Peart.