In 2015, I heard that the progressive rock band Rush was going to be touring again. I’d been a fan of theirs for some time, but for some reason out of all of the concerts I’d been to I hadn’t seen them. I’d read some musings about this being their last tour because of the physical toll it took on them and managed to see them when they visited Boston. It was a great show and I’m so glad I managed to see them before it was no longer possible.
Neil Peart was the drummer for Rush. He passes away on January 7, 2020 (my birthday). Over the past few years reading his books, I’ve come to see him as something of a kindred spirit. It’s exactly something he would be put-off hearing. However, we both experienced great losses in our lives and coped with it by indulging our sense of wanderlust. We both enjoy exploring the back roads and seeing things not normally seen while speeding by on the interstate.
Far and Wide: Bring That Horizon To Me is the third book that Peart published that chronicles his travels. This one takes place during the tour in 2015 that I mentioned above, the R40 tour. It was pretty much agreed between the three members of Rush before this tour began that it would be the last. Peart also recognized it as being one of his last chances to travel North America by motorcycle as he had in the past.
At the opening he makes the case for why this has to be the last tour. Being a drummer isn’t easy. Peart was devoted to his craft and was arguably one of the best rock drummers ever. It takes a lot out of a person physically to do what he does, but he loves the craft. That’s quite obvious as he details the preparations he makes before embarking on the tour.
Most of the book details the trips he makes while on the road. He embraces something called “shunpiking” which means avoiding the major interstates and traveling by back roads around the country. Peart wants to find the out-of-the way places and slip into a bit of anonymity throughout the tour and describes his bus dropping him off and picking him up (usually in a Walmart parking lot) while he and one or two friends ride their motorcycles between gigs. There are many pictures throughout the book that show the beautiful places he goes while doing this.
At the same time, his intellect is on full display. Rush was a thinking man’s band and Peart wrote nearly all of the lyrics. He wasn’t called “The Professor” for no reason. The language he uses while describing the journey in 2015 is quite elegant and was a pleasure to read. I could also tell just how much he loved being a father again so late in life after so much tragedy. It makes it all the more sad that he died before his daughter Olivia could grow up.
Although I never learned to ride a motorcycle, I could easily imagine traveling alongside Peart in my Wrangler (when I had it). I loved living through him vicariously and dreaming of a time I can walk in some of his footsteps to the places he travels in Far and Wide: Bring That Horizon To Me. It’s an excellent book for people dream of taking off and traveling those back roads of North America.
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