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Friday, February 26, 2010

Lennon, KISS, Rush; A Tip for the Mayor of Cleveland

I was reminiscing with a friend about the Rush album 2112 and the Zager and Evans song In The Year 2525, when I remembered a trip to the States I enjoyed as a kid.

It was a big deal, getting to drive all the way from Southern Ontario to the South of the United States, and it was exciting being on holiday with my parents and sister during Christmas 1970. When we hit St. Louis we stayed with our friend Gary Sabourin of the St. Louis Blues, as he had lived with my family when he was a teenager playing for the Kitchener Rangers. The Boston Bruins were in town, and though St. Louis lost the game 7 to 1, Gary brought a program into both dressing rooms and when he gave me that gift I had everyone's signature, including the great Bobby Orr, who remains at the top of hockey's pantheon, alongside Wayne Gretzky.

In hindsight that voyage was the beginning of the end for my hopes of becoming a pro hockey player, and the start of a lifelong fascination with powerful songs and the simultaneously spiritual and rebellious nature of rock'n'roll, and what we would later term punk rock.

In Texas we were staying at my aunt's house (my uncle was in US Air Force) in San Antonio and we went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve on the Air Force Base. Another night was even more memorable, as everyone went out for dinner but I said I wasn't feeling well and got to stay home alone in my aunt and uncle's house.

Young Yuya was twelve years old and played Instant Karma about 30 times in a row, as loud as the stereo would go...

That rapturous evening provided beautiful electrifying chills that have lasted a lifetime. I and I are still loving that song, and every year when the HolyDays roll around, you know to get your butt in gear when you hear John sing "And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?"

It would be another 3 or 4 years before Dylan could penetrate my psyche, and another decade before I truly delved into Marley at the level deserved, but my boy Lennon was with me like a Bro from that day forward.

Rush are heavily influenced by Ayn Rand and individualist philosophies, hugely contrarian in both Canada (we're mostly social democrats but Rush is highly respected) and in rock'n'roll. The 2112 epic concept album is more space / future rock than politics, but saving the seeds of individualism remains a strong theme.

Citizens of Cleveland may want to take matters into their own hands and plan for celebrations. Book Rush to do a live presentation of their 2112 album during the Summer Solstice week of 2012, around June 21st, and then let the Hall know it's time to let the good times roll.

KISS and Rush are probably the two most deserving bands not in the Rock Hall of Fame yet, and if I were Cleveland Mayor I would demand they both get in asap; KISS has an army, and Rush has a country...

Yuya Joe College
Toronto, Canada

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