Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ghost Rider

In August of 1997, just following the “Test for Echo” tour, Neil Peart’s daughter, his only child, was killed in a car accident.  Within a year, Neil’s wife died of cancer.  He felt broken and lost, and so he got on his BMW bike and hit the road on a journey that would, in many ways, become his healing road.  This intimate book chronicles that journey.

Maybe more for Rush fans, though it is also a great travel book; but I would certainly also recommend it for people who are grieving a loss.  That’s something I don’t really know much about, thankfully.  My Dad died earlier this year, a wonderful man of 80 years who was healthy right up to the near-end; its hard to have lost him, but I know he led a good, full life and left a fine legacy.  There’s suddenness and sadness and surreal-ness to all of that, but not the shock and life-changing impact of the kind Peart faced.  Still, there are bits there that helped me in that regard.

For Neil, it was to keep moving, in the hope that something would come up, to keep nurturing his ‘little baby soul’ and keep going.  He had no interest in music or his past life, he even thought of that guy as another person really, someone he didn’t know or could relate to.  So, it was the road that helped him.

And also writing many many letters to friends and loved ones, as well as some journal writing.

From a ‘travelogue’ aspect, this is also a very interesting book.  He traveled west from the Laurentians to western Canada, then up to Inuvik on a very sketchy road, then back down, through Alaska, then via ferry to southern BC then down through the western US to Mexico and Belize, and then some more travels besides.  Great descriptions of scenery, roads, towns and places where he stayed.  So many twists and turns.

I’ve read a few reviews where people complained about him hiding behind his glass of scotch, hoping to avoid fans (anyone who would know him), the ones whose patronage allowed him to head out on the road for two years and stay where he liked and drink nice scotch.  To stay away from those people.  Hmm.

At its core, I don’t think Peart is too far off on the whole ‘fame’ thing from how I think I would see it.  He and his mates wrote music and released their art as albums, people paid a fair price for buying that music so they could listen to at their leisure.  Peart and his mates sell tickets to live concert performances where they play their songs, and people pay a fair (though hefty) price to go see them perform and take enjoyment from that experience.  Done, right?

Yeah, I suppose.  But, Neil and Geddy and Alex aren’t selling luggage.  They’re selling personal, inspiring art that connects with people on deeply personal levels.  Patrons are touched by it and react differently to the makers of the product than they would to the makers of finely crafted luggage (ooo, Corinthian leather!).  There’s obviously a different connection and reaction that you should expect.

I know he understands that, and thinks those people are mostly fine; just that he isn’t hugely comfortable in dealing with them much of the time.  Fine.

I’m happy and proud to be one of those people (and I would probably just give him a nod, ‘hey’, if I saw him anywhere).  😎

Well, back to the book itself.  It’s worth checking out.  It’s a very intimate journey and communication of thoughts and feelings during a very difficult time in life; an intimate look at real human thoughts and feelings, and how life can right things again and make us whole.

Just keep moving.

When Neil finally returned to the band, the song Ghost Rider appeared on their next album, “Vapour Trails“.

“Ghost Rider”

Pack up all those phantoms
Shoulder that invisible load
Keep on riding North and West
Haunting that wilderness road
Like a ghost rider

Carry all those phantoms
Through bitter wind and stormy skies
From the desert to the mountain
From the lowest low to the highest high
Like a ghost rider

Keep on riding North and West
Then circle South and East
Show me beauty but there is no peace
For the ghost rider

Shadows on the road behind
Shadows on the road ahead
Nothing can stop you now

There’s a shadow on the road behind
There’s a shadow on the road ahead
Nothing can stop you now

Sunrise in the mirror
Lightens that invisible load
Riding on a nameless quest
Haunting that wilderness road
Like a ghost rider

Just an escape artist
Racing against the night
A wandering hermit
Racing toward the light

From the white sands
To the canyon lands
To the redwood stands
To the barren lands

Sunrise on the road behind
Sunset on the road ahead
There’s nothing to stop you now
Nothing can stop you now

 

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