Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Narpet

There's nobody else for the letter N but famed drummer and lyricist Neil Peart.

I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs about his thought provoking lyrics (oh wait, I have), but for now I think your time will be best spent just listening to his rhythmic skill.  Please feel free to devote your next 8 minutes and 43 seconds to THIS.

If you see him do this live, your heart soars.

For a long time, I wasn't quite sure how to reconcile my high views of Neil's lyric-writing genius with some... other views of his choice of musical instrument.  I suppose I always sorted out the relative "importance" of the various pieces of a song or a band in the following order:
  1. lyrics (vocals)
  2. melody (lead guitar; sax; etc.)
  3. bass & rhythm guitar
  4. percussion
But as I've gotten older and hopefully wiser, I've come to appreciate the solid foundations and creative possibilities afforded by the steady (or not so steady) beat-beat of the tom-tom. :-)  It would be a cliché to talk about the subconscious, dreamtime-evoking power of drumming, as realized by shamans both ancient and modern.  But maybe it would be a less of a cliché to refer you to what Johnny Cash had to say on the matter!

PS: The title of this post comes from a much shorter (1 minute exactly) and more avant garde drum solo, Didacts and Narpets, that Neil included on 1975's Caress of Steel.  Didacts are teachers, but nobody is quite sure what narpets are supposed to be.  In an interview, Neil noted that "narpet" is an anagram for "parent," but I've always been more intrigued by the fact that it's also a nifty little anagram for "N Peart."  :-)


  1. In my excitement I almost typed your real name -- ha! I first wrote neal name!

    Cygnus, I am enjoying the next 8 minutes and 43 seconds -- well, I'm one minute and 29 seconds in -- and I just want to thank you for hands down the best N post possible!

    There are three toms: the floor and two hanging toms. I only have an electrical drum kit so I'm not quite able to allow the toms to shake my core the way that playing an acoustic would but I enjoy thrashing f*ck out of the hanging toms, perhaps more than I should. (Sorry to cuss in a comment on your excellent posts but there really, *really* is no other way to put how you experiment with those pieces of the kit. Well, perhaps you can call it subverting the status quo of the subtle body. That would be a touch less crass, yes?)

    To Neil! I celebrate with you, dear friend. Fantastic post. Will explore every link this evening with more time. I shouldn't have commented until I had the time to do it but, well, here's my off-the-cuff response.

    Ballyhoo, eh!! (Six minutes, twenty seconds in. GAWD.)

    1. No worries about healthy expressions of emotion... that's what this is all about, too!

      Have you ever seen Rush live?

    2. Can you believe it ... NO! (Hangs head and covers eyes in grief.)

    3. It's never too late. (They'll be going for years, I think, like the Stones...)

  2. Simply the best living rock drummer in the world. I doubt you'd get much argument on that. It is my experience that a good band is built from the bottom up. Any fool can sing lead. A good drummer makes everybody better.

    1. The one and only time that I indulged in a fierce internet flame war (back when all it was was green text on a black VT100 terminal) was when someone had the audacity to impugn the good name of Peart. :-)

  3. Fans of Mr. Peart might enjoy Adventures of Power -- A sort of spoof of "plucky underdog fights the system while following his dream" movies about the subculture of "air drummers".

    1. Ha! Interesting. Knew quite a few of those in college.