I’ve written about the late Neil Peart (pronounced “Pea-art”) on this blog once or twice. He was most famous for being the amazing drummer and lyricist for the progressive-rock band Rush. He kept rhythm for them for over forty years, finally succumbing to a brain tumor earlier this year.
But the other thing Peart was known for was his writing. I’ve read four of his non-fiction books and have enjoyed each one. Although his first book, The Masked Rider, is my favorite, the others have all held up, kept me entertained, and broadened my horizons.
In Far and Away: A Prize Every Time, Peart has collected a selection of essays he wrote between 2008 and 2010. The topics mostly cover his motorcycling adventures across the United States, South America, and parts of Europe. But these aren’t just travelogues. In between observations about the ever-changing landscapes and cycling mishaps, Peart writes about friendship, family, society, and creativity.
The thing I like most about Peart as an author is that I always come away from his books with an education. I learn new things, not just about the parts of the world I haven’t visited, but also about myself. I’ve seen a bit of myself in Peart’s observations. Sometimes that’s good, other times, well, not so much.
Of course, even when riding his BMW motorcycle and making insightful observations about life, Peart is never far from his drumming background. Most of his riding is done between shows while the band is on tour. While his bandmates rode in tour buses or private jets, he saddled up on his bike and rode the sometimes hundreds of miles between cities. Being an adventurer, Peart like to ride off the beaten path, which on more than one occasion left him stuck in mud on a dirt road, navigating without GPS, and finding himself lost in the middle of nowhere.
Through it all, however, Peart never loses heart. Rain, snow, closed roads, and detours…he takes it all in stride and oftentimes uses the moment to find insight into human nature.
For a change of pace, I highly recommend Peart’s books. He’s an excellent storyteller, and insightful human being, and despite the fact that he was an extremely private person who avoided the limelight (see the lyrics to the song, “Limelight“), he opens up in his writing and in rare moments gives us a glimpse of his soul.
That’s something rare and beautiful. He will be missed.