Rush, Afterimage & The Loss of a Friend
We go through life not even realizing it until, suddenly, life hits us with a surprise that reminds us how vulnerable we are and how short our time is with those we love. This week, I lost my dear friend Brian Bailey.
Brian and I were very different; I grew up in the hustling of Mexico City, and he did in Northern Michigan. He loved fishing and hunting, I liked arts, and the list could go on. But over the years, we discovered many things we had in common or introduced each other to things we loved. We were both curious and always open to listening to each other. He liked music, and we shared a love for Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, and some others, but Brian liked music enough to always pay attention when I talked about the bands I loved, and one of them, of course, was Rush.
Rush’s song Afterimage is the best I could find to express how I feel now about Brian’s death:
The shouts of joy, skiing fast through the woods
I hear the echoes
I learned your love for life
I feel the way that you would
I feel your presence
I feel the way you would
I feel the way you would
I feel, I feel the way you would
This just can't be understood
This Rush album marked a musical departure in many ways. For one, they changed producers. Terry Brown had produced all albums before, and since they were looking for a new sound, they decided to change and chose Peter Henderson, who would be with them for several albums after this. In Grace Under Pressure, Rush proved how synthesizers could be integrated into progressive rock without losing power and creativity or delegating sound to automation.
As with many Rush albums for those obsessed with understanding the titles' origin, Neil Peart would educate his audience and spark literary curiosity. In this case, the title was inspired by a quote by the writer Ernest Hemingway: “Courage is Grace Under Pressure.”
It took time to learn to appreciate this Rush album, given how different it was from its predecessors, but over the years, it has become one of my most played albums by the band, and many of the songs were concert highlights.
Brian and I would text each other often, and I would send pictures of my trips, a joke, an interesting article, or anything I thought would stimulate his interest. He was the first person to let me know when Neil Peart died. The second person was Marilu; she said: I heard that a guy from the Doors just died, Jim Morrison? My God! During Brian’s last days, the texting increased. I would send anything I thought could distract him from the prison of his couch. One day, he texted me a link to the press release of Geddy Lee’s book tour, hitting Cleveland. He knew what I liked and was always ready to share it.