I’ve been a Rush fan for, oh, just over 20 years I suppose. It’s not exactly the most exclusive club in the world, but it’s not like being a fan of the Beatles or Bruce Springsteen either. In most circles, when you tell people you’re a Rush fan, they give you a sideways look as if to say, “Oh, that’s nice. And do you still play Dungeons and Dragons?”
Then there are the pot shots taken by fellow music lovers, who stroke their beards, cluck their tongues, and talk about, “What’s to be done with this band with their shrill singer, overly complex songs, clinical drummer, and lyrics about dragons and sorcery?”
Ninety-nine percent of the time all that drivel rolls right off my back. But for the past dozen or so years, right about this time, I’m reminded of all the insults and all the muted laughter heaped on Rush and their fans. Because every year since 1999 (25 years after the release of Rush’s self-titled debut), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts another group of artists that doesn’t include Rush. As much as I liked to pretend that the Hall of Fame was a shallow, irrelevant institution, it rankled me every year when Rush was snubbed.
I could rattle off a list of Rush’s commercial and artistic accomplishments, and present a rock-solid (get it?) case for how much they deserve to be inducted into the big glass pyramid in Cleveland. I could also point to a host of inductees from ’99 till now that, while they may be worthy in their own right, certainly did not deserve to get in before one of the pillars of progressive rock.
I could also rail against the entire Hall of Fame and their secretive, highly dubious nomination and selection procedures. I could raise the point that many others already have — that Rush was never “cool” enough for the likes of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone, and that as long as he’s running the show they don’t stand a chance. I’ve said all this before, and was tempted to do so again this year.
But after the latest group of Hall of Fame inductees as announced yesterday and a certain Canadian power trio was overlooked again I asked myself — why? Why the hell should I, or any Rush fan for that matter, care whether or not they ever get in? It boils down to this for any Rush fan (or a fan of any band still on the outside looking in):
If Rush makes the Hall, would that make you love their music any more? Of course not.
Do you think an induction will make haters change their mind? I certainly hope not, because it won’t. If anything, they’ll sharpen their swords.
Would it be a point of pride or a bragging right? Only in a really lame alternate universe.
Would it represent some sort of validation? Hell no. If you want validation for being a Rush fan, go to one of their shows. There you will be surrounded by people who get it, who understand. And in any case, if you’ve been paying attention to a lot of Neil Peart’s lyrics over the years they go on about how futile it is to seek approval from anyone but yourself.
If Rush doesn’t care, why should you? Every public statement I’ve ever seen from the band indicates, at best, an attitude of indifference toward the Hall. Maybe in their more private moments Geddy, Alex, and Neil cry bitter tears over the whole thing, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.
So in the end, does it really matter at all? Well, no, it doesn’t. So why the annual consternation and hand-wringing from fans, as well as some critics, music writers, and fellow musicians? Why do the musical tastes and preferences of an extremely limited group of people have any impact on us at all?
So now I encourage all my fellow Rush fans — as well as supporters and general well-wishers — to take a stand today. From this day forward, let’s show the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just how much we care about getting Rush inducted by… doing absolutely nothing. No more petitions, no more angry articles, blog posts, or rants on comment boards.
Let’s just enjoy the music, the band, and the memories. Because if being Rush fans has taught us nothing else, it’s that being an outsider isn’t really all that bad. In some ways, it’s the best thing to be.