Forty years ago tomorrow, Rush released their eponymous debut album on Moon Records. With eight hard rocking tracks, it is unique among Rush’s twenty studio albums. It’s the only album to feature John Rutsey, who was replaced by Neil Peart before Fly by Night was released a year later. What’s more, it’s not nearly as complex as many Rush albums that followed and its lyrics are, especially by comparison to later work, simple.
While a couple of songs, “Finding My Way” and “In the Mood,” have popped up on tour from time to time, most songs have been forgotten by all but the most fervent fans. That is, with the exception of “Working Man,” the song that introduced the world to Rush.
As the story is told in the excellent documentary, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Donna Halper, a disc jockey and music director at WMMS in Cleveland, Ohio received a copy of “Working Man” in the mail. She says that, as music director, she was always looking for long “bathroom songs” that her DJs could throw on when nature called. At more than seven minutes, “Working Man” filled the bill and its hard rocking sound and theme fit the blue collar town perfectly. WMMS started playing the song and Rush took off from there. These days, “Working Man” still gets included in setlists from time to time and the song was recently included in a Walmart commercial.
Forty years later, Rush is still going strong. From a discovery that ignited in Cleveland, their journey came full circle last year when they were inducted into Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. While the importance of that induction can be debated, their potency and longevity cannot. The band is still regularly creating wonderful new music and touring for months at a time.
At the conclusion of last year’s Clockwork Angels tour, Geddy said it might be a while before there was an “R40” anniversary tour (similar to the R30 tour) and that’s fine. Who would deny the boys some time off after a lifetime of touring? But fingers crossed, we’ll see an R40 tour soon and (who knows?) an R50 tour, as well!