‘Mean, Mean Pride’: Rush’s Critique of American Cool
With particular attention to the first decade of their career, this chapter examines the way Rush are at once popular and obscure, cool and uncool, a position on the sidelines that resonates with a critical Canadian perspective on American culture. While music fandom depends on passionate affiliation, Rush, who do not fit the standard rock and roll image, insist on a more dispassionate examination of what one stands for. They show a compulsion to see both, or more, sides of any issue, which may be called particularly Canadian. American heroes, or heroes of any kind, are treated at once with admiration and scepticism. Values that equally belong to American culture and to rock ‘n’ roll, such as individualism, rebellion, and freedom, are thoroughly queried; not rejected, but examined to find the balance of pros and cons. Idealistically confronting the problems of idealism, Rush powerfully acknowledge, in songs like ‘2112’, all that stands against diverse individual expression, while also, in songs like ‘Closer to the Heart’, seeing the benefits of benevolent leadership.