Known Johnson

July 21, 2008

The perp-walk on TV

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 10:12 am

There’s a reason why you should always name your posts before you do any significant amount of writing. Name it something, anything, who cares – you can always change it later. I always forget this and then remember the painful way just why I should be doing so . . . like a moment ago when I’d written a bunch of stuff, then accidentally hit F5 on my keyboard, refreshing the page, wiping out everything. Currently this post is called “Name.” (Now it’s one of my absolute most cringe-inducing lines from a Rush song, from an album that possesses quite a few.)

If you didn’t catch the spirit news last week, Rush was on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, their first TV appearance in 33 years. It wasn’t merely a musical performance, nor was it the typical Geddy/Alex interview – it was pretty much the entire show dedicated to Rush in one way or another, as references were made to the band throughout the whole show, and Colbert sat down with all three (yes, including reclusive Neil) for a humorous interview that seemingly spent much of its time poking fun at the length of their early material. One sample question: “You’ve been touring for over 30 years. Do you ever get tired of being so awesome and kicking so much ass?”

(Update! Full episode here!)

Playing out the “very long song” joke, Colbert goes to bed while Rush continues to play “Tom Sawyer” . . . and Rush appears again the next night where we find them finishing the song with their tags of Cheech & Chong’s “Earache My Eye” and the tease of “Cygnus X-1,” which should be very familiar to long time fans.

My only problem with this joke is that “Tom Sawyer” isn’t a long song, and Rush really only had a small handful of actually long songs, but I get it – I’m taking that too seriously and making Rush fans look exactly the way people think of us (and the band): like uptight dorks.

I just want to point something out to people: Rush has remained popular and successful without TV. Thirty-three years without playing on a TV show, without MTV pushing their videos down your throats (yes, they had videos, but how many of them did you ever see?) and still they achieved, as Stephen Colbert points out, 24 gold records (sales of 500,000) and 14 platinum records (sales of 1,000,000.) If you know me and this site, you know I’m not one to point out sales as an indicator of good music, but when a band has been around this long and continues to sell this well, garner critical praise for their latest albums, well, it cannot be denied. Few artists can boast such claims, and most who have been around this long, if they are putting out new music, are doing so merely to have a reason to tour – and many simply tour with no new music. That’s pretty damned cool, isn’t it?

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