Raise your hand if you know who Neil Peart is. That’s right. He is/was the best drummer in the world. Ever. When I started listening to Rush, I didn’t understand what everybody thought was so great about him. Then I listened to other groups and I was like, “Oh. I get it. They’re right.”
But did you also know that Neil is a writer? A travel writer at that, and what better combination for our Summer Challenge than a musician who likes to see the world. With the summer vacation season upon us, these books are an excellent choice to go with you on your own excursion. Plant your toes in some nice warm sand and crack open one of these bad boys.
Peart’s first book, The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa, is about his bicycling trip through Cameroon is West Africa. It was a really good read, but no way in the world would I ever take a trip like this. I’m not good at roughing it. If God wanted me to be sweaty, he wouldn’t have invented air conditioning.
The second book, Ghost Rider, is Neil’s most famous (and saddest). In 1997, Peart tragically lost his 19 year old daughter to a car accident and his wife to cancer/broken heart in the same year. At a loss, Peart took to his trusty BMW motorcycle and headed across Canada, through the US and down into Mexico, looking for any kind of healing.
After reactivating Rush with Alex and Geddy, his bandmates, Peart starts to write more about his life as a traveling musician, first in Traveling Music and then in Roadshow, which chronicles the thirtieth anniversary Rush tour (and is only available through Interlibrary Loan—ILL). Both of these are good, but my favorites are the Far & series, where Peart really hits his stride as a writer.
Far & Away, Far & Near, and Far & Wide (again the latter only available through ILL) continue to follow his life as a traveling musician, but now they are accompanied by beautiful photographs. If you read this far down into the Peart catalog, Neil will start to feel like an old friend. You’re ready when he breaks out the Macallan at the end of a long day, and you know that you are probably going to have to travel a couple 100 miles extra so that he can get his coveted National Park stamp.
It took a little effort to get through all of them, but I’m so glad I did. I’m sad now that they are over because I feel like I lost my friend. If you are travelling this summer, take Neil with you. He’ll make the time fly.
Travels with Neil Peart
He's a drummer! He's a biker! He's both and thanks to NPL you can read all about it.