Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, Pye Dubois
Original Release: Hold Your Fire
Definitive Version: Roll The Bones Tour, 1991.
I found a few versions of this song from the Roll The Bones Tour on the YouTube, but I couldn’t find the same one to which I refer. I think it was from Milwaukee, but I haven’t seen it in a while, and I can’t remember.
I love Force Ten, because I’ve always seen it as a call-to-arms song. You hear the build-up beginning, with Neil’s beat driving the song, and you’re up and rocking. That’s probably because, as I think I mentioned, Force Ten was the first Rush song I ever saw live.
Twenty-four years and 13 shows ago, Rush opened their show at Franklin County Stadium in Columbus—as they did every show on the Presto Tour—with Force Ten. It turns out the first FOUR Rush shows I saw opened with Force Ten—the one in 1990, two in 1991 and one in 1992.
I love the video for this song, which Rush still shows at least a portion of on stage while playing it. My favorite part is the second chorus with the sheep blissfully chomping away in the pasture, blissfully ignorant of the tornado bearing down on them until it’s too late.
But then who doesn’t love a good cartoon? I grew up on Bugs Bunny, Johnny Quest and Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’m old enough to remember when Scooby Doo debuted. Even after I stopped watching Saturday morning TV, I still loved a good cartoon, moving as an adult to Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead, The Tick, South Park, Spongebob Squarepants and the Fairly Odd Parents.
I can’t remember why, but in 1992, Scott sent me a videotape of Ren & Stimpy cartoons that he collected. (I had my own VCR so I could’ve recorded my own shows.) The tape was marked “Ren & Stimpy & Something of Interest.”
After Ren & Stimpy ended, I was greeted by the image of cartoon Rush landing behind their instruments—the start of the video that marks … Force Ten!? Hey, what’s this?
It was a video bootleg of an entire Rush show from the 1991 tour—the first such bootleg I’d ever seen. I was amazed that a guy was able to sneak a camcorder into a show and get away with taping the entire thing. (Three times he had to lower the camera—keeping the sound going—when, I assume, ushers came by.) Once again, Scott came through with a record-show purchase. It turns out that Ren & Stimpy were just the cartoon before the main attraction, like the movies in the really old days.
Rush, of course, means Canada. It’s amazing for me to write this, but it’s been nearly 16 years since I’ve been to Canada. When I lived in Michigan, I must have crossed the border at least a dozen times for various baseball, hockey and ballet trips.
After I moved to Columbus, it became more inconvenient to take off to the Great White North. Sure, I still went, but it became more sporadic and based around a specific event, such as the Barnes exhibit in Toronto in fall 1994 or Scott’s bachelor party in 1996.
Until further notice, the last time I was in Canada was in June 1998. The occasion was the first regular-season Reds games in Tiger Stadium. I’d made it to the first Reds-Indians game the year before, as I mentioned, (good ol’ No. 77), so I had to be at the first series of Reds game in Tiger Stadium since the 1940 World Series. So did Scott.
Scott also had a request. We were this close to Windsor, could we go up extra early and sneak across the border to the duty free to buy some Canadian beer unavailable in the States? If that means I can bring home a couple of cases of Brador—and it did—by all means. I didn’t have to ask permission, because Debbie liked Brador as much as I did.
And whilst we’re there, how about getting some ribs at Don Cherry’s? I asked for permission on that one, and Debbie readily assented. Neither Scott nor I considered asking whether it would be OK to hit the ballet.
So, Scott and Shani drove up Friday night, stayed with me and Debbie at our house and the four of us drove to Detroit the next day. We took the Ambassador Bridge across the Detroit River—a first for me—and I realized I’d never seen Windsor except at night. It looked pretty much like any other Canadian town: small, clean and not very crowded.
We went to Don Cherry’s first, and it was a little colder than expected, so Debbie requested a stop at a store so she could buy a sweatshirt to wear over her Reds jersey. I can’t remember the name of the store, but it was a Canadian chain that looked more like a Rinks of the 1970s than, say, a 1990s U.S. department store. She instead picked out a green long-sleeve Henley. (I ended up with that shirt after the split and still have it.)
We finished up at the duty free. I grabbed two cases of Brador; Scott also picked up some Molson XXX. Sated with another taste of Canada, we headed back across the bridge to Tiger Stadium.
The game itself was unremarkable except for two things. The first was that in the section over from where we sat in the upper deck, two foul balls came whizzing up at different times and plunked people hard enough that they had to leave. Bring your mitts, people!
The second was that the Tigers were giving away free Detroit Stars caps … to kids 14 and under. Not only did they refuse to give me one when I asked, they refused to give Debbie one when she asked in the fourth inning, even though they still had boxes of them unopened.
What a ridiculous policy. What kid wants a cap of a team he or she has never heard of? I mean, the Negro Leagues were dead long before I was born, let alone some 14-yar-old punk who couldn’t NAME a single Negro Leagues player if you spotted him or her the Satchel. Yet the folks who actually might KNOW ANYTHING about the Negro Leagues, let alone the Stars, were denied caps.
The Tigers should have handed the caps out to everyone in this case, but that’s the Tigers in a nutshell, at least back when old Tiger Stadium was as empty as the surrounding neighborhood. Why bother caring about the few fans who actually came to a game?
But the highlight of the trip already had taken place—the side trip to Windsor. When I was asked the standard three questions at the border—Where are you from? Where are you going? Do you have anything to declare?—I had no idea that that would be the last time I’d ever be asked those.
Of course, now if I want to go to Canada, I have to take my passport. God only knows what questions I’ll have to answer now to cross the border again. Are you freakin’ kidding me?! It’s Canada! We’re really that scared of our shadow that we can’t trust Canada any more … as if I had to ask.