Neil Peart: Sadness and a profound Thank You

Some of you know that I am a long-time fan of the band Rush. Found them in college (thanks Jim!) and bought all their albums in several formats. They have been a large part of the soundtrack to my entire adult life; various times, various songs, various reasons. The drummer, Neil Peart, recently passed away from brain cancer. This very sad thing happened to a man who brought me enjoyment, understanding, and awareness of the wider world. I would like to tell you a bit about his impact on me.

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Music Is Magic: Stairway To Heaven performed by Heart & Others @ Kennedy Center

I grew up listening to rock music. Specifically, classic rock back before it had earned the ‘classic’ moniker by refusing to die. Stairway to Heaven was a favorite of mine and many others. It didn’t get a lot of airplay on the main radio stations as it was over 8 minutes long — much longer than the typical 4 minute top o’ the charts song.

I could usually hear it on the radio once a week during the Top 5 Songs. The local radio station based it off of caller requests and, for a very long time, Stairway to Heaven was #1, so they played it last thing around 10pm. All eight glorious minutes.

But as the play count in my head got into the hundreds, maybe thousands, the thrill faded. I didn’t seek it out and it isn’t in my music library in any format.

But then I saw this version. Lead by the band Heart (Ann & Nancy Wilson), this version was performed at the Kennedy Center to honor Led Zeppelin in 2012.

A couple of things to note for this performance. First, Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin’s deceased drummer John Bonham, is playing drums. That had to be an intense moment for him. Watch him at the very end salute his dad’s bandmates.

Then there is the guy who has to play the Stairway To Heaven guitar solo in front of Jimmy Page. That had to be stressful.

The part that always gets me is how the song builds. Not the melody or vocals themselves, but how the people on stage build. I’m not going to describe it as you have to see it. Those being honored are amazed and touched by the performance.

What does it feel like to write a song that touched so many people?

The entire Music Is Magic playlist can be found here.

Music Is Magic: Foo Fighters with Kiss Guy

In the last few years, some bands have been bringing up audience members during a concert to play a song. I don’t know if they do anything to make sure the person knows how to play, but I have seen videos of people that didn’t know how to play and the road crew pulls them out immediately. But sometime it works out.

The Foo Fighters are one of those bands that does this. The featured video today (link) has an audience member who was well prepared. He even had his own pick ready when he put the guitar on.

While the band, and especially Dave Grohl, know how to put on a show, there is a joy that I believe is real when they realize how well Kiss Guy can play. And how much Kiss Guy clearly enjoys being up there with them.

Part of what is appealing to me is watching people that haven’t played together before, play something. Watching them work together. The section in the middle and the end are not part of the record, so Kiss Guy couldn’t just have been playing from the original recording.

They were making it up around the prearranged song. And that is part of the magic for me.

Unknown Fan ready
To step up on the big stage
Impressing the Band

The entire Music Is Magic playlist can be found here.

Music Is Magic: Grace Potter and Joe Satriani cover Cortez the Killer

Cortez the Killer is a song by Neil Young for his album Zuma (1975). You can see his live version of it here. It also is worth your time.

I didn’t know the song when I came across this video. Having discovered Grace Potter from her Nocturnals music, this popped up in my YouTube feed. As I am also a fan of Joe Satriani, I had to check it out.

Continue reading “Music Is Magic: Grace Potter and Joe Satriani cover Cortez the Killer”

Music Is Magic: Learn To Fly

I keep a collection of videos of musicians that, to me, are really moving. This “Music Is Magic” series covers those videos and why they are important to me. See the end of this post for a link to the video playlist.

I haven’t gotten too much into the Foo Fighters, but I really like Dave Grohl, and the passion of the Foo Fighters’ fans is impressive. I came across this video, Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters Rockin’1000 Official Video, a number of years ago and I was mezmorized.

1000 musicians gathering in one location to play one song for the members of one band. For the purpose of getting that band to come to their little town in Italy and give a concert. The variety of people is amazing. Watch especially for the kids.

As the camera wanders through the musicians, you see all kinds of faces, but there seems to be two kinds of emotions: serious attention to the playing or happiness. There is a huge variety of happiness, from simply smiling to satisfaction to grinning to giddiness to elation.

This video is one of the bookmarks that I keep at the top of my browser and watch it 3-5 times a week. The sheer enthusiasm of the musicians always gives me a lift.

I don’t know the story of how the day came about or all the work that went into it. I don’t know what the experience of the people there was, other than what is on the video.

But I wondered.

When I was starting to write, this video gave me the idea to write about what that day must have been like. I didn’t do any research, instead focusing on the emotion behind someone who might have participated in this event. The fictional story is called Cesena.

The entire Music Is Magic playlist can be found here.

One thousand people
Enthusiastically play
Much delirium

Music Is Magic: This Is Me

There are a number of videos that I have come across that capture magic in music. Now, this isn’t an original thought, nor is my list of music magic the same as anyone else. But I have started a collection of musical moments, most of them live, that get me in the feels each time I watch them.

One of the videos on the list is from a rehearsal of This Is Me, from The Greatest Showman. The intro explains that this was the session where they were trying to get the move approved.

I realize that the singer, Keala Settle, is a Broadway musical profession. Which means she can sing and act. But there is something about this clip that captures the emotion of this song. It is one of the strongest songs in a very strong musical and passion that comes through by everyone in the room gets me every time.

The entire Music Is Magic playlist can be found here.

Powerful Music
Passion Performance Ignites
Connecting my soul