Well, not quite yet. But if civil rights hero Libertarian chowderhead Rand Paul doesn’t stop using the Canadian prog stalwarts’ music in his Senate campaign, they very well might. And Rush aren’t some “Fly By Night” band. They mean business.
This isn’t a new phenomenon — you may recall the Jackson Browne/John McCain incident (“Running on Empty” as a campaign song was actually a breakthrough for truth in advertising). Heart was not happy with Sarah “Barracuda” Palin, for obvious reasons. I think John Mellencamp went after McCain, too. And, most recently, a judge ruled that it was not a “fair use” when California senatorial candidate Chuck DeVore made fun of President Obama using a couple Don Henley songs as his springboard. I’m not gonna get into the legal specifics of each case right now, but I will say that I’ve been following these incidents pretty closely, and, where they have ended up in court, I’ve agreed with all of the decisions.
What makes the Rush/Rand situation unique isn’t actually copyright or fair use interpretations, but rather the band — and Rand’s — politics.
Rush lyricist and drummer Neal Peart has penned a number of songs that are heavily influenced by another Rand. That’s right, I’m talking about that intellectually poisonous witch, Ayn Rand, and her spurious creed Objectivism.
It kind of makes sense, when you think about it. Rush are from one of those “socialist” countries. Perhaps Objectivism is the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion in a nation with free public health care. And Rush did have a thing for fantasy themes when they first started out. I guess they just swapped one fantasy for another.
In songs like “New World Man” and “The Trees,” Peart’s lyrics reflect a typically juvenile internalization of Randian concepts. It’s as if he read Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead in high school and figured he had political philosophy all sewn up.
At the height of their popularity, Rush may have served as a gateway drug to Objectivism. Think about it: their fans were usually nerdy teenage boys who, due to the ostracizing that often comes along with being smart, built up elaborate fantasies of themselves as the true superiors — their peers were just too dimwitted to see it.
This kind of self-mythologizing is natural, particularly in teenagers. Which is why young people are roused by Rand when they first encounter her. Yet most of us, as we grow into adulthood, come to realize that her “philosophies” are not only hopelessly simplistic, they’re actually dangerous.
For the record, Peart has stated that, while inspired by Ayn Rand, he does not label himself an Objectivist. “For a start, the extent of my influence by the writings of Ayn Rand should not be overestimated — I am no one’s disciple,” he said.
Not that there’s an actual comparison to be drawn, but I wonder how many Germans in the mid-1930s would say they were “inspired” by Hitler but didn’t label themselves Nazis?
Keep in mind that I don’t despise Rush. I don’t love them, either. 2112 kinda rocks, Objectivist concept album or not. I just think it’s interesting that the band is telling Rand Paul to stop using their tunes.
Rush’s lawyer, Robert Farmer, also seems aware of the irony, and has taken pains to clarify that it’s not about ideology.
“This is not a political issue — this is a copyright issue,” he told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “We would do this no matter who it is.”
I guess you could say Rush is just is exercising their “Freewill.”