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Neil Peart on Samuel Taylor Coleridge in new Guardian interview

Thu, Oct 7, 2010@4:20PM | comments removed/disabled

[Bard reputation: pop stars pick their favourite poets]

UPDATE - 10/7@10:51PM: Eric at Power Windows pointed out this passage from Neil Peart's book Roadshow which echoes many of Neil's remarks from the article:

In the summer of 1976, in a cottage in Soutern Ontario, I was working on the lyrics for a song called "Xanadu." (I didn't have any opium, but I might have smoked a little hash.) The song idea was originally inspired by the movie Citizen Kane, and its main character, Charles Foster Kane, and I had planned to build something on that theme. At the beginning of the movie, the opening lines from 'Kubla Khan' were quoted, 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree.' As research, I looked up the poem, and I was so powerfully impressed by it that the poem took over the song. In the end, there was entirely too much 'honey dew' in it - too much Coleridge, that is to say - and though musically the song was one of our earliest big 'epics,' I never cared much for the lyrics...Another line from 'Kubla Khan,' 'woman wailing for her demon-lover,' turned up almost twenty yeaers later as 'Daughter of a demon-lover,' in our song 'Animate,'...though the Coleridge connection hadn't occured to me before." - Neil Peart, Roadshow

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UPDATE - 10/7@5:15PM: The article's author Dave Simpson also added this neat little tidbit in the comments for the article (thanks Ian Harris):

Neil Peart also shared a great little story about his own poetic background, Weewilkie:-

"Aged seven, I wrote a poem called The Little Red Fox which I'm told was displayed in the halls of Gracefield School for some years after - not remarkable for its quality, but for its volume (similar criticisms have been levelled at my drumming): ’The fox woke up so early in the morn. You would too if you heard the horn!’"

Maybe this will make it onto Clockwork Angels. :)

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The UK's Guardian newspaper ran a piece in their Music section today in celebration of National Poetry Day where they asked several musicians to pick their favorite poet. Neil Peart was one of the participating artists and had this to say about Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose poem Kubla Khan was the inspiration for Rush's Xanadu.

In 1975 I was trying to write a song inspired by the dark mood and subtle psychology of the film Citizen Kane, which features the opening lines of Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I looked up the poem and was overwhelmed by its imagery and emotional power. The song Xanadu was taken over by the poem in a way that has never happened since. I added the "adventure travel" aspect to the song's story before I'd traveled further than the rock clubs of North America. I portrayed Coleridge's idea of immortality as a grim curse – Citizen Kane is the opposite: mortality as a punishment. There's a joke that goes, "Rush is what happens when you let the drummer write the songs", which is funny, but of course I only write the lyrics. The line in the song Animate – "daughter of a demon lover" – pays homage to these powerful lines from Kubla Khan: "As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted/ By woman wailing for her demon lover." Now that's rock.

Here's the video for Xanadu:

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