RUSH – “Overture/Temples of Syrinx”

I like Ayn Rand. Granted, I’ve only read two of her novels and nothing in five years or so but I like what I know. As someone who likes both literature and social programs, this has taken me a long time to admit. There’s something worth preserving in the uncompromising personal individualism she celebrated, the emphasis on self-fulfillment — these things are not so bloody obvious to every 15-year-old, thank you very much. There’s a certain elegance and prettiness to the unfolding of the melodramatic tales of non-conforming heroes. Would I want her books on an undergrad English reading list? God no, what do you think I am? Would I want to live in her uber-capitalist utopia? Well of course not. I wouldn’t live in Orwell’s or Pound’s or Steinbeck’s or Crass’s or Morrissey’s or Ian Curtis’s utopias either but it doesn’t stop me from having enjoyed or enjoying their work. In fact, the idea of a 15-year-old finding himself or herself in Anthem makes me much happier than the idea of a 15-year-old finding himself or herself in Minor Threat.

And I like this too, composed “with acknowledgment to the genius of Ayn Rand.” Its adolescent zeal gives it a metallic force Rush never achieved before or since. The tightly constructed riffs pile one on the other with unabashed bombast before a gentle voice reminds us that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Then the blaze begins. Geddy Lee declaims with especial stridency the forced collectivism of the evil priests who rule the temples of Syrinx. The music gallops. Its relatively low production values, its violent individualism, its musical aggression, its teenaged conviction are weirdly reminiscent of punk at its best. Excess, virtuosity, pretentiousness — if these qualities are present here they are made immediate and hungry, driven with a sense of mission.