Monday, April 25, 2011
Xanadu by Rush
The Rush song Xanadu (lyrics) from the A Farewell to Kings album reminds me of my early drumming career. Once I discovered Rush, all bets were off. I dove in head first to emulate Neal Peart in every facet of my drumming style and it continues today (along with Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater). As I started collecting Rush albums, A Farewell to Kings just stuck with me. I loved the melodies, lyrics and other adventurous nature of the arrangements. It is still my favorite Rush album. The song Xanadu just blew me away. There are so many little parts that Peart throws in there. How can you not like a song where both guitar players have double-necked guitars (a very 70's thing)? This song took me an entire summer of practice to really get a handle on it. I wore out two cassettes because of constantly rewinding it. I was so wrapped up in this song I did research on what the lyrics meant and the history behind it (very cool stuff by the way).
As further proof of my devotion to this song, I was given a xylophone for my birthday to learn those parts as well. I would use mallets on my 22” ride cymbal as the gong on the song. I also purchased agogo bells to play this and other Rush songs. I then found other songs by Rush and others (like Jethro Tull's Baker Street Muse) to use my xylophone on. Another important factor in learning this song was the video Exit Stage Left. The video is from the Moving Pictures tour which was one of the last tours that Rush played Xanadu in its entirety. I was able to study this video over and over to see how Peart played a specific part. I incorporated a few of the fills Peart included that were not on the studio version. Of course the parts I really needed to see were not always shown (darn guitar solos :).
After all these years I still enjoy playing this song and album. The difference now is that I understand Xanadu's time signature changes much more than I did then so the parts have come together tighter. This song more than any other defined my style for most of my drumming career. Even when I was is a blues band, I would add little things to the songs that made them more fun to play and make them my own. Some people did not not like my “busy” style but you can't please everyone.
As a side note, I have since learned odd time signatures much better and can count the measures while I listen and play songs. For years the middle section of the song A Farewell to Kings always stumped me. Now I know why, the measures alternate between 7/8 and 5/8. It is one of the most difficult sections I have ever learned by Rush. Once again I just hunkered down and played it over and over again until I could play through more often than not.
Do you have story about this song? Please Let me know.