There’s one resident in the Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Nova Scotia who could be regarded as one of Rush’s biggest fans. His name is Bubbles.
“I was probably three or four years old when I first experienced Rush and started to learn to play guitar,” he tells TeamRock.com. “Before my old man took off on me, he used to have Rush records in his Big Rig. I think the first song I ever heard was Cygnus X-I; that was deadly. They were unlike anything I’d heard before – they sounded like aliens.”
“I think there was a law passed here in 1981 that said you have to own every Rush album – or you’re not a Canadian,” he adds. “That’s pretty much the only law we abide by.”
In a move that may lead to pockets of escalating violence across the globe, we challenged the Trailer Park Boys - the stars of Canada’s best mockumentary series - to pick the 10 best Rush songs from any period of their choosing. Let’s not forget the trio were responsible for the kidnapping of Alex Lifeson in 2003 after missing out on tickets to a show in Halifax. But more on that later.
Here, then, is what Canada’s second best trio picked – but who favours their synth-led period of the late ‘80s? The answer may surprise you…
FLY BY NIGHT (Fly By Night, 1975) Bubbles: “[sings] ‘Fly by night, away from here, change my life again’ It’s just an excellent song, you know? It’s about life in a rock band and I’d always wanted to be in one. We’re up all night usually, me, Ricky and Julian, so we fly by night ourselves.”
TIME STAND STILL (Hold Your Fire, 1987) Ricky: “I like it because when you’ve got a really good buzz on, time feels like it’s standing still.” Bubbles: “Ricky used to be really into the late 80s synth stuff and would dress up like Geddy Lee.” Ricky: “I grew out my hair so it was half-way down my back. My success with women increased when I had Geddy Lee hair [from that period].” Julian: “When he had the ponytail, he acted like Steven Seagal. But I’ve found that ladies aren’t into Rush like the men are in Canada, but I think they prefer the synth sound.” Ricky: “I think that’s because they rock so hard. It’s more of a guy thing.”
RED BARCHETTA (Moving Pictures, 1981) Bubbles: “I’d have Red Barchetta in there. It just makes me want to own one of those dirty bastards. I’d drive the piss out of it. I once got all cranked up and drove a Lamborghini. This rich fella gave me his car. Ricky and Julian told me he said I could sit in it, but I thought he said I could drive it. I was doing about 180. It could be the best song ever written. But then there’s the song 409 by Jan and Dean. That’s pretty good too.”
LA VILLA STRANGIATO (Hemispheres, 1978) Bubbles: “I’d have to go with that. I don’t just like their early records. I love their new album too. I can play the whole thing on the guitar, from start to finish. It’s really quite amazing to see, actually. I started learning country songs, then started learning Rush songs in ’78. I played all the complicated songs – not very well. To get in the right state of mind to play Rush songs, I smoke a whole bunch of hash.”
CLOSER TO THE HEART (A Farewell To Kings, 1977) Ricky: “I’ll pick Closer To The Heart. It was originally called Closer To The Nuts, but they couldn’t put that on the album.” Bubbles: “Ricky! Who told you that? It was never called that. The whole song is awesome. It’s beautiful song.” Ricky: “The words don’t really make a lot of sense. It’s like he picked a bunch of words and put them together I guess.” Bubbles: “Ricky, you don’t understand. The song makes a lot of sense… [sings] ‘And the men who hold high places must be the ones to start, to mould a new reality closer to the heart’. It’s deep! I’ve played this song with Rush. As you know, Ricky kidnapped Alex Lifeson at the time because we couldn’t get tickets. I got to know Alex a little bit. Later, Rush were going out on tour and Alex Lifeson called me up and asked if I wanted to go with them. I said, ‘Yeah… baby’.” Ricky: “You thought he asked if he wanted to go out on some dates.” Bubbles: “He didn’t Ricky. He said ‘We’re playing some dates, do you want to come?’ He wasn’t asking me on a date. Shows. Once he got over the kidnap, I thought he was an awesome guy.” Ricky: “At first, I thought he was a dick. Like, ‘Hey, I’m a big rock star. I’m pretty rich…’ But he turned out to be pretty cool.” Bubbles: “When he was kidnapped, his management went crazy. They tried to sue all of us. Luckily, Alex stepped in and calmed down the situation and told their management to back off. They were going to try and put us in jail forever for kidnap.” Ricky: “I was like, ‘What are you going to take? My car?’” Julian: “Didn’t their manager try and smack you in the head?” Ricky: “Yeah, we went toe-to-toe. He won, but I got a couple of shots in.” Bubbles: “Yeah, Ray Danniels [band manager] beat the piss out of Ricky. He beat him unmercifully and wouldn’t leave him. He clearly won the fight but just kept beating him. Ray looks like a friendly guy but he can fight.”
THE SPIRIT OF RADIO (Permanent Waves, 1981) Bubbles: “On some Canadian stations, this is all they play. All the time.” Ricky: “I’m actually sick of that song.” Bubbles: “Shut up, Ricky. This has a fantastic riff off the top – and it’s actually not that hard to play if you know what you’re doing. I don’t think this is commercial as people say. They don’t have many commercial sounding songs, that’s why they’re fucking awesome. Is it the best song on Permanent Waves? I do. I think so. Is that a trick question?” Ricky: “I think radio was big back then, and they thought, ‘Radio’s cool’ and wrote a song about it. Everyone kind of got behind it.” Bubbles: “We’re getting deep.” Julian: “People still think radio’s cool, Ricky. What are you talking about?”
YYZ (Moving Pictures, 1981) Julian: “YYZ is cool.” Bubbles: “I’d go for that. You know what YYZ means right? That’s right, it’s the name of Toronto’s airport. And the intro is Morse Code too. That’s awesome.” Ricky: “I didn’t know that for years until we flew to Toronto. I was like, ‘Oh my God, everything makes sense now.’ I used my YYZ luggage label as a rolling paper.” Bubbles: “Because of the glue on the label, he shit himself on the plane. Anyway, I think they should name Pearson International Airport after Rush.” Julian: “[Infamous politician] Rob Ford isn’t Toronto’s mayor anymore, but he’d probably change it to Rush Airport if he could.”
A PASSAGE TO BANGKOK (2112, 1976) Bubbles: “This song has to be up there. I always wanted to go on one of those trains. I’d pack several Rush T-shirts for that journey. Did you know that Julian has a kimono like they wore in the ‘70s? He’s also got a pair of Geddy’s underwear.” Ricky: “Were they given or taken? Well, that’s a good question.” Julian: “I didn’t steal them out of his luggage. You’re totally lying.” Ricky: “You have them on.” Julian: “No, I don’t.”
LIMELIGHT (Moving Pictures, 1981) Bubbles: “Now we’re down to the nitty gritty. Two left. It’s got to be Limelight. It’s about being a rock star. I think it would be pretty awesome to be a member of Rush. I went out with them for a couple of weeks and we were flying in private jets and eating fancy food.” Ricky: “They’re pretty nerdy, though.” Bubbles: “They don’t party, but they like to drink wine – it’s not like they’re eating handfuls of unidentified pills. The song is about Neil Peart being pissed off about being in the limelight. But for those two weeks, I thought it was awesome.”
TOM SAWYER (Moving Pictures, 1981) Bubbles: “We’ve missed out a bunch, but Tom Sawyer has to be in the list.” Ricky: “It’s about a guy on a boat who got screwed around. He says, ‘fight the government’ or something. It’s about rebellion. I get into a fight pretty much every time I listen to that song.” Bubbles: “This song isn’t supposed to make you want to fight people. The video is awesome. It was filmed in a studio in Quebec. You get to see all that equipment. I’ve been there. I took something. Ricky brought a crowbar and peeled one of the boards right off the wall. But Tom Sawyer is a masterpiece. I read a lot of poetry because of Rush. I’ve got about 20,000 poetry books.” Ricky: “Where do you keep them?” Bubbles: “Oh, around. In places…”
Trailer Park Boys will tour the UK in September. For more details and tickets, click here.