During his 40 years of writing and recording with Canadian prog legends Rush, Neil Peart took on some mind-bending material. Initially, Peart was associated with science fiction as a lyric writer, creating the alien worlds and complex backstories for the likes of ‘2112’ and the ‘Cygnus: X-1’ series.
As Rush continued to grow, Peart began to turn his attention toward more humanistic themes and ideas, finding just as much fascination in the cliques of high school and the bright shine of the limelight as he found in the otherworldly exploits of his past work.
Because he has so many literary references and so much inspiration cited in his work, Peart often found fans pouring over his lyrics in an attempt to find themes and messages. While Peart encouraged open interpretation of his work, he also kept specific thoughts in mind while creating his lyrics.
So when fans began to see allusions to racism, classism, and inequality in the Hemisphere track ‘The Trees’, Peart stepped in to clarify his inspiration during an interview with Modern Drummer in 1980. The magazine asked Peart if he had a specific ideology or message in mind when he was writing ‘The Trees’, and the drummer responded relatively dismissively.
“No. It was just a flash,” Peart shared. “I was working on an entirely different thing when I saw a cartoon picture of these trees carrying on like fools. I thought, ‘What if trees acted like people?’ So I saw it as a cartoon really, and wrote it that way. I think that’s the image that it conjures up to a listener or a reader. A very simple statement.”
Of course, references to “unions” and “noble laws” tend to cast ‘The Trees’ into a political light for listeners as well, but Peart seems to have approached it in a less serious manner than those allusions might suggest.
Check out ‘The Trees’ down below and find the message that connects with you.