Traveling Music: PLAYING BACK The Soundtrack TO My Life and Times by Neil Peart (ECW), 440 pages, $34.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Ok, I'll admit it. I'd read Neil Peart's grocery list if he published one. A life-long card-carrying Rush fan, I have followed all his writings, both musical and prose.
I was not, however, a huge fan of Peart' s first book. The Masked Rider: Cycling In West Africa, a rambling account of his bicycle tour through Cameroon. His 2002 release, Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road, detailing the deaths of his wife and daughter, was compulsively readable if for no other reason than to marvel at how someone could survive that kind of emotional carnage.
Traveling Music also ostensibly centres on a road trip, in his BMW Z-8 instead of a motorcycle, this time a six-day journey from Peart' s home in Santa Monica to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, with nothing to keep him company except his trusty radar detector and a stack of favourite CDs.
Traveling Music is divided into verses and choruses instead of chapters. The verses are about the trip to Big Bend and the music he listens to on the way. The choruses follow his life, from early childhood in southwestern Ontario through his early attempts to jump-start his music career, first in Ontario and then in England, and then touch on his 30-year career with Rush.
If the construction of the book, or architecture, as Peart likes to call it, makes you a little carsick, Peart' s lyrical language and simply shocking juxtapositions of musical interests (Sinatra to Madonna, Linkin Park to the Beach Boys) keep you entertained and maintain the momentum.