Saturday, August 31, 2013

No. 278 – Marathon

Performer: Rush
Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart
Original Release: Power Windows
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: A Show of Hands, 1989

As I mentioned, there was a period of time when I turned away from Rush. It seems difficult to believe now, even for me, but it’s true. It started with the Grace Under Pressure album, which, as it turned out, was when a lot of other people started to get turned off by Rush.

Scott and I bought Grace in Hawaii, and I couldn’t wait to hear it when we got home, but it left me cold. It wasn’t Geddy’s infatuation with the synthesizer run amok that did it. Instead, I remembered thinking that all the songs sounded the same. I put Grace Under Pressure away after one listen and never pulled it out again.

When Power Windows came out a year later, I saw The Big Money video on MTV first and thought, “it’s the same thing.” It sounded exactly just like everything on Grace, which sounded like everything on Signals. It all was derivative—and not as good. I didn’t even buy Power Windows.

My contempt reached such heights that when Hold Your Fire came out in 1987, I saw it in a record store somewhere and thought, “Wow, Rush is still together?” By now, I was listening to talk radio if I listened to radio at all, but I never heard any new Rush songs. Rush had fallen completely off my radar.

In 1989, I was shopping in Rolling Meadows—mostly to kill time, but sometimes with purpose after, say, a card show. Across the street from the Meadows Town Mall was a record store, the name of which I’ve long since forgotten. Prices were way higher than what I had been used to paying in Columbus, and I had almost no money between my car and my video-dating escapades. I also no longer had a record player, so I bought tapes when I bought music at all.

Anyway, I saw that Rush had yet ANOTHER album out—A Show of Hands. However, this was a live album filled mostly with songs from after Signals. In other words, it was a lot of stuff I either didn’t like or didn’t know. But it also had Subdivisions, which seemed to me to be the last great Rush song. Given that it also had Witch Hunt and Closer to the Heart, I knew there were at least three songs that I’d like on there. I threw the dice and bought the tape. If all else failed, I had a live version of Subdivisions.

I didn’t love A Show of Hands. It was no Exit … Stage Left. I mean, Rush didn’t do long songs anymore. The complexity of the new music seemed to be lacking compared with such opuses as 2112 and Xanadu. But … it had some good things on it. The first thing that jumped off the tape was this song. I liked the sound of Marathon and I liked its pairing after Subdivisions.

Unlike with Grace, A Show of Hands wasn’t a one and done. I listened to it quite a bit, and more things pulled me in, like Mystic Rhythms and The Manhattan Project. OK, Rush has my attention again.

After I moved to Flint and bought my CD player, I gave Rush another chance and bought Presto. A few months later, I was 10 rows from Alex Lifeson at Franklin County Stadium when Rush played Subdivisions and Marathon back to back, just like on A Show of Hands. The rest, as they say, is history.

Marathon, more than anything else, was the song that brought me back to Rush. I never since have strayed (and I LOVE Grace Under Pressure now, incidentally), and I’ve never looked back.

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