Using RUSH in the Social Studies Classroom: E-mail 

Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 08:32:28 -0400 From: mike nerlien

Now I know that I'm writing this on July 17, 2000, but I just wanted to address the e-mails I've read along with the "Rush in the Classroom" idea. I am 21 now, almost 22 and have been a Rush fan since I was 15 (thanks to an older brother). I try to keep up on my philosophy in every facet and I am self taught in this regard, but it appears to me that we are too stuck on our -ism's. Meaning that I'm sure Neil wasn't trying to channel Ayn Rand through his music, but merely his own philosophies, some of which was inspired by Ayn Rand, among others. I believe that Neil was trying to teach (much like many philosophy teachers)those who LISTENED to Rush's music to take what they could from the lyrics and to come up with their own thoughts, ideas, and philosophies as to the meaning of said lyrics. Therefore the purpose of Neil's lyrics is not to make you ponder from whence they came, but to make you ponder as to what they might mean to you and what kind of inspiration or revelation you might gain from that ponderance. As for Rush in the classroom, I think maybe even High School might be to early for it. Whereas I and many others enjoyed Rush in High School and studied Rush, many High School students of today would probably not enjoy as we did or even as previous classes as a whole did. Besides it would be too hard to pull them away from their Brittany Spears or N'Sync to even try. I've learned that Rush is the proverbial college philosophy band.Once again I apologize for not finding this webpage sooner so I guess very few will even read this e-mail.


From: "Jessica m."
Subject: rush in the classroom
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 05:16:04 PDT

I think that the idea of incooperating Rush lyrics in social studies is very
inventive.  Reading through some of the other comments I happened across one
about Subdivisions, and speaking from a teenage point of view, I can
definately relate to it.  The chorus line "in the highschool halls, in the
shopping malls, conform or be cast out" I know exactly what that is like.  I
have been living a small conservative town for quite a few year, but I do
not believe Subdivisions relates to the highschool shootings, those kids had
more problems then just not fitting in socially.  But anyways, another
comment that I would like to add to is the one about Red sector A, I think
that song has something tto do with death camps from different wars.  Thats
about it though.

     I got a kick out of Rush in the Classroom, but you are leaving out Ayn Rand's influence on Neil's work.  If you have read her novel (it's short) Anthem, it  mirrors 2112.  In fact, I believe that on the album cover to 2112, there is a dedication to her.  Hang on, I'll check.....oh sorry, I don't have any of their albums around, only cassettes and
C.D's.  I do remember that an early album is  "dedicated to the genius of Ayn Rand," and I am just about positive that one is it.   Red Barchetta was taken from a short story which was published in Car and Driver.  I remember reading it at my local library many years ago.  I don't remember how I learned it was taken from a Car and Driver mag, but the story was there.  I hope I am not sounding like a prig!!!!!  Anyhow, thanks for the page.  Feel free to contact me and give me s___t for stepping out of line.  Julie

What about "Subdivisions"????  In light of all the high school shootings, it states the obvious to anyone- suburban sprawl, bedroom communities with no town center except a nearby mall can emotionally isolate the individual to the point of nervous breakdowns, and yet after escaping to the city people reach an age where they can't find the energy to run the urban race.  Where to? Back to what appears to be the only alternative- suburbia!  The song sums up our consumer society, and the human individuals place in the machine...worth some class time to discuss!

Lincoln O'Brien <>

Hey. I popped by your "Rush in the classroom page"....and it's nice to see somebody other than myself who understands Peart's lyrics in an educational form. I'm a huge Rush fan! I'm 26 years old now, but from age 17 to now....I've used his lyrics for myself in that educational form. It's really changed and helped my outlook on life. He has such a great sense of the human spirit and consiousness. I just wanted to comment on that, cuz people think I'm crazy when I say, it's really helped form some of my views and ideals in life!

 Thanks for understanding too!!


From: Vaughn Mitchell <>

I am pleased to have come across your RUSH page on the web. It sparks me to find yet another person who is aware of the musical and lyical genius of this group. Truly, RUSH is one of the world's premier intelligent bands! You may also be interested in the works of Dave Mustaine (with his band MEGADAETH) and Chuck Shuldiner (DEATH) especially Death's  two latest releases "Individual Though Patterns" and "Symbolic". These bands are heavy metal and death metal respectively, so if you do not enjoy that type of music, you may wish merely to read the lyrics. Attatched is a short story of mine heavily  influenced by the album Symbolic and by Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny's works. One version is txt in case you don't have MS Word'97. Spead the word of RUSH!

Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 21:04:27 -0800
From: "G. Gerig" <>
Subject: More on Ayn Rand's influence

No offense intended, but attempting to interpret Peart's lyrics without a basic understanding of Rand's philosophy  (Objectivism,) is an exercise in hit-or-miss speculation. I won't pretend to speak for Mr. Peart, but thanks to his "tip," I've been able to study Rand's philosophy for over 15 years. Here's my take:

"Territories" is more precisely a commentary on nationalism and racism, rather than "imperialism." Peart, I think can be safely said, is first and foremost an unwavering opponent of collectivism, and this song is primarily a statement against the nationalist and (by allusion) racist forms of collectivism. Imperialism is really beside the point.

The entire Apollo/Dionysis - heart/mind - reason/love conflict in "Hemispheres" is taken from Rand's nonfiction collection "The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution," in which she uses Apollo and Dionysis to represent the conflicting philosophies of, respectively, Aristotle and Plato, and by extension the dichotomy (which she held to be false) between body and mind. Rand held that mind and body are an integrated  whole ("a single, perfect sphere",) not constantly warring opposites, which is the view held by nearly every other philosophy. She also held that there can be no such thing as a "collective human consciousness."

"The Trees," which is my single favorite Rush tune both musically and lyrically, seems to trip up everyone - myself included. My first thought back in the fall/winter of 1978/79 (as a wee lad of 16,) was that it was a stinging satire of the destructiveness of militant feminism (!) To this day I still get environmentalists who think it's a stinging protest
against logging (I kid you not.) So what is "The Trees" really about?

"The Trees" is a stinging satire - of the evil of EGALATARIANISM and the inevitable result thereof. This could be any form of egalatarianism: militant feminism, unionism, welfare statism/socialism, environmentalism, animal "rights", "outcome-based education", etc. ad nauseam.  The real key to this song is in its last two lines: "...for they passed a Noble law/And the trees are all kept equal - by hatchet, axe, and saw..." This is not a suggestion - it's a statement of
egalatarianism's inevitable dead-end: destruction. It's an incredibly eloquent Aesop's Fable of sorts, the moral of which is: "Egalitarianism lifts no one, and destroys everyone. It is evil."

For "Red Barchetta" you've got it backwards - it's a commentary on Big-Brother statism (of which environmentalism is one form,) and its effect on the automobile - or more precisely on what the automobile symbolizes. And what, according to Peart, does the automobile symbolize? When USA Networks' "Night Flights" ran the "Exit...Stage Left" concert video back in the early 80's, the songs were interspersed with comments by the band members. Since I don't own that video, I don't know if those comments are part of the program or were added exclusively for Night
Flights, but I remember Neil's comments on "Red Barchetta".  He said specifically that the automobile symbolizes: sexuality and freedom. Not affluence. Here, again, is a continuation of a consistent theme: A statement against the trampling of individual freedom by collectivism - in this case a totalitarian state enforcing its environmentalistic
"Motor Law". (It's amazing - and depressing - how early that futuristic projection has approached reality.)

 On "2112", the earlier Email nailed it: it's a sci-fi-tinged takeoff on Rand's brilliant novelette "Anthem." That book says more in just over 100 pages than most other authors manage to say in an entire career. The sci-fi trappings are just that - they are not essential to the story or its moral: individualism vs. a stifling collectivism.

The evaluations of "Manhattan Project" and "Nobody's Hero" are accurate. As to the debate of Peart's position on religion, I would say that "Freewill", "Roll The Bones", "Ghost of a Chance", "The Big Wheel" clearly establish him as an atheist (those lyrics all closely echo Ayn Rand's view on the supernatural, and her philosophy is solidly
atheistic.) Peart actually speaks at some length on his attitude toward religion in his book "The Masked Rider." If I remember correctly, he is atheistic, and says that his nutshell statement of belief is that "Life is my religion" (paraphrased).

If you're interested in Rand's philosophy, her own novels are not only an excellent introduction to it, they're excellent literature. For a more structured presentation of her philosophy from the ground up, try Leonard Peikoff's book "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand." Neil's article in a recent issue (Sept '97, I think) of the libertarian
magazine "Liberty" is very enlightening as to his political/philosophical beliefs - he distances himself from the official
Objectivist organizations and expresses reservations about certain aspects of her political stands, but cites Rand's novel "The Fountainhead" as a major intellectual and artistic influence.

- G

 P.S. - Is that "UMD" as in U. of Minnesota-Duluth? The love of my life was from there - her name is Nina...mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
 P.P.S. - Please excuse the encyclopedic length of this...

Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 09:06:31 -0400
Subject: Use of RUSH in social studies class

 Hey there. I wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I did an oral report on one of Rush's songs in history last year, and you might want to add it to your page. We were studying the Holocaust, and as I listened to the words of "Red Sector A" I realized that's what it's all about. And if not directly pointed at the Holocaust, then definitely some other time of death camps. Think about it...I'd love to see it mentioned on your page. It feels good when I see that I can make a difference. :)

 Andy Sokol

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 1996 23:53:01 -0400

From: Jeff


Subject: Your interpretation of 2112 is off the mark.  The song, which 
is similiar to the book "Anthem" by Ayn Rand, is about the individual 
against a collective totalitarian society.  Seeking life in other planets?  
That is not what Neil had in mind writing the song.  He only uses science 
fiction as the tool to deliver his message.  Rand was a big infulence on 
Peart (I don't know if she still is), but when he wrote 2112 she was.  
If you get the chance, read "Anthem"  its a short book.

Subject: P.S.

Neil stated in an interview he was agnostic.  But he also added that he
was romantic enough to want it to be true.  I think he really is an
atheist, but hold his agnosticism because of his romanticism.

Subject: P.S.S.

Sorry about this, but I just wanted to say that I think using Rush and
their music is a great idea.  It was in social studies that I first
heard Rush and 2112.  I really enjoyed when my teacher did that -he
didn't only use Rush.  Unfortunatly,  good lyrics are hard to come by in
today's music.

Thank you.

Date: Sat, 12 Oct 1996 11:08:36 +0000
From: John Emmons 
Subject: Rush in the classroom


I really loved your article in ASOF. I'm a Senior in High School, and a 
big Rush fan as well, and I'm hoping to become an English/Literature
teacher, and I have always marveled how bands, especially Rush have used
such great Literary references in their songs, and how those songs can
be used to help teach children. I remember my excitment at discovering
that Xanadu was very closely related to Coleridge's Kubla Khan...I
thought it would be great if my teacher had know that as well, because
the students would see that this literature is important to study. That
the material doesn't just apply to then, but to now as well.  Since I'm
a musician as well, I suppose that I find such links important, but I
think that music and art are what reflect the time and people of that
age, and obviously if a group is reflecting on another work or
literature, it must still have a message for us today. In fact all great
works of art hae a message for us, whether it be a musical, visual, or
literal message. I'm glad that someone else thinks that music is
important in pointing out a certain situation in our day and age, or a
reference to another work. I hope that someday I'll be able ot teach and
use music and other forms of art to help illustrate that art and music
isn't just a form of entertainment, but something which should make a
message about life, or the times, and why the past isn't in the past,
but it is still relevant to us and our time now.
Thanks again for the article, I hope that I'll see more in ASOF on how
to present the music in the classroom.


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