Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We’re All Rush Fans Now (the band, not the windbag)

You know the First World is in serious trouble when an impeccable motor company like Honda produces a crappy car like the Insight. Trying to stay ahead of the politically-correct curve, Honda created the Insight in anticipation of “greener” days to come under Eurobama socialism. Honda wants to stay in business, and it knows that more stringent laws and regulations on vehicle design and emissions are coming forthwith.

Trust me, the economy will stabilize. We’ll all (including the Third World) be the poorer for it. And we’ll drive around (if we get to drive at all) in paper-thin peddle-cars that struggle to reach 50 mph. I might be forced to take the light rail after all.

Back in college I was an avid fan of Rush, the Canadian progressive rock trio. The early ‘80s were what I dubbed Rush’s “middle period,” i.e. when their musical style transitioned from long, rambling epics like “Xanadu” to more compact but no less adventurous songs. On Permanent Waves drummer Neil Peart’s Objectivist philosophy came into clear view, especially in the preachy “Freewill.” The follow-up album, Moving Pictures, presented Randian themes in more subtle, metaphorical images. “Tom Sawyer” finds in the spirit of a restless teenager the embodiment of individual anarchism. “Witch Hunt (Fear, Part II)” alludes to ecclesiastical abuse but is open-ended enough to suggest political tyranny as well. But the crown-jewel of Moving Pictures is “Red Barchetta,” possibly the best song in the entire Rush repertoire.

My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law
And on Sundays I elude the eyes
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits
“Red Barchetta” tells the story of a youth who escapes to the countryside home of an uncle who keeps a restored, gasoline-powered Barchetta in a barn. He describes stripping away the protective covering and taking the sports car for an exhilarating spin through the country – until he meets up with the police in the form of a “gleaming alloy air-car, two lanes wide.” A one-lane bridge allows the young man to escape and return safely to his uncle’s home. Musically, this song pushes the pistons with every note.

The illegality of the event heightens the story’s tension and the euphoria of freedom. Had the boy been without the Barchetta’s horsepower he would no doubt have met with some grim fate at the hands of the State. The repressive circumstances of the story are set in the first verse, quoted above. “No one knows” about the uncle’s hidden place. That it “used to be a farm, before the Motor Law,” suggests the State outlawed both rural property use and certain forms of motor vehicle transport – methods of constraining and controlling populations. Eluding “the eyes,” the youth has to hobo as a means of getting beyond the State’s borders.

Clearly, the protagonist of this song lives in a totalitarian State, where freedom of movement and method of movement are restricted.

Can’t happen here? Test drive an Insight.

3 comments:

The Underground Pewster said...

It is about to happen as in the "cash for clunkers" proposal. US News does not list the Insight as a vehicle that would qualify. They may have read your review.

I have a clunker or two, and I wonder if I should go to the next police vehicle auction and stock up on some more. If I buy a 10 Crown Vics for $1,500 apiece and sell them to people for $2,500 each so they can use the Crown Vic to get $5,000 off a car on the Guv's in list, won't I come out ahead?

jackscrow said...

Amen. My whole music world was especially Rush, and also Alan Parson's Project, Yes, etc... before I got Roots Religion.

A preacher of the Acoustipolic Faith, Jamie Brockett, led me to the real music. But I still have a special affinity for Rush.

Chuck said...

Pewster - I've bought several cars at gov't auctions and gotten more than my money's worth out of them. I bought one for $900 and sold it to Carmax for $1200. One can certainly make a profit on Crown Vics.

'Crow - I'm also a born again roots guy, evangelized by Doc Boggs & Charley Patton...but I'll always love Rush.