Don’t rush to judgement on this, but every night since Christmas I’ve gone to bed with Geddy Lee, the lead singer of Canadian rock band Rush. Twice, we’ve even shared my soaker tub. I’ve enjoyed every minute of our time together.
You’re thinking my taste in rock’n roll fantasies is weird, given Lee isn’t exactly the poster boy for sexy rock god. Exactly. I would never go for that (unless Lenny Kravitz calls). I like musicians for their art, not their looks. Look at you, jumping to conclusions. Sheesh.
I’m referring to taking Geddy Lee’s autobiography, My Effin’ Life, to bed with me. The book was one of my most cherished Christmas gifts for 2023. I picked it out for myself, as in I actually picked the book off the shelf of my favourite independent book store and walked it up to the cash register, giving my daughter little doubt of what I wanted for our holiday gift exchange, and no opportunity to refuse.
Let me stop for a minute. It just dawned on me that you may not know who Geddy Lee is, or worse, you don’t know every word to “Tom Sawyer,” or maybe you have never played imaginary keyboards on the dashboard of your car when “Subdivisions” comes over the airwaves. Shame. If that is the case, I’m virtually whacking you with this hardcover book to knock some legendary Canadian-content into you. Smarten up.
Rush is the musical trinity of Lee, Alex Lifeson and the late Neil Peart, who were instrumental (pun) in my early understanding that Canadian rock music could be unique in lyric and sound, yet authentic to the landscape around me. Reading about their brotherhood, their commitment to their individual and collective musicianship, and the unrelenting determination to evolve their craft against the grain of the mainstream has been a rewarding read on every level. It’s a tale of friendship, sacrifice, hard lessons, devastating loss and the importance of family.
Most impactful was the story of Lee’s parents, who met as teenagers in a Nazi concentration camp. It was a hard chapter to read, but it’s a story I will not forget. I went back to revisit Rush’s song “Red Sector A” and shuddered. His ancestral trauma is heavy, but the resilience is beautiful. The stories about balancing a rock’n roll career and a marriage also made me appreciate Lee more. It ain’t easy.
Now that I know the story behind some of the albums, I’m revisiting the music with fresh ears and a whole new perspective. Understanding the inspirations and narratives, the dialogue between the instruments, and the pressures to produce, I’m tuned in with more depth. Sadly, I never got to see Rush perform live. I always thought there would be a next time. Life doesn’t work that way. Yet, the music lives on.
I closed this book last night feeling like I had learned something true and honest about artists I have admired since childhood. The best part? Lee’s humility. He is a man who admits to his faults and keeps learning to be better. Healing from generational trauma in a world that still feeds that hate, he remains a kind, generous and inspired artist and family man.
Forgive the cliche, but it was good to get closer to the heart. What a great read.