Sunday Morning Quotation – Rock and Roll HOF Edition

A friend and fellow scholar who wishes to remain anonymous recently had this to say about Rush, a Canadian prog rock band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past week:

“It’s perfect, too, that this message [the libertarian/Ayn Rand strand in their earlier music, especially Trees] is married to music so over-the-top in technical skill, as if they’re out to prove how superior and worthy of distinction they are.”

Very well said.  For more on prog rock and Rush in particular, see the erudite dean of prog rock commentary, Brad Birzer (here is a recent example).

Here is the video for “Trees” (Caveat: not even close to a top 10 Rush song in my book though I certainly appreciate the lyrics and Lee is as great as usual on the bass):

And here are the lyrics:

“The Trees”

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘Oppression!’
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

One thought on “Sunday Morning Quotation – Rock and Roll HOF Edition

  1. I’m too lazy to look this up now but I’ll do it if there’s any interest. Neil Peart, Rush’s lyricist and drummer, is on record as saying that “The Trees” is NOT an anti-egalitarian song. Rather, it’s a sort of “Far Side”-style cartoon where the joke is: wouldn’t it be funny if trees spoke and argued just like human beings?

    Now, I’m averse to thinking that one of my favorite musicians is a liar. But it’s at least possible that he’s simply embarrassed of his prior Randian (yes, Peart is also on record as having lapsed as an Objectivist). But I think it’s at least implausible to think that someone as smart as Peart would not anticipate that the song would be interpreted as an anti-leveling allegory.

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