December 5, 2011

A Drummer, A Writer, & West Virginia

I love Wikipedia.

Dearly and passionately. It’s such a treasure trove of juicy info. Yes, I know, it’s perhaps not the most reliable source in the world on some things, but unless you’re trying to solve the nation’s current political issues or intractable moral problems, it’s really pretty good. It’s just so easy to go, “hey, I wonder about . . .” and go try and find out.

That’s what I did the other day. I was watching a TiVo’d version of the latest Rush DVD, as broadcast on VH1 Classic. It’s from their last tour, which featured a performance of Moving Pictures in its entirety (even the long dormant epic “The Camera Eye”). Somehow, for some reason, I plugged “moving pictures” into the Wikipedia search field and . . . voila! You learn all kinds of things.

Take, for example, the song “Red Barchetta.” Always a favorite of mine, I knew it was based on a short story (“A Nice Morning Drive,” available here) published in Road & Track in 1973. Briefly, it’s about a dystopian future where automobiles, like the titular vehicle (think something like this) have are illegal but a rebellious narrator sticks it to the Man, anyway. Or, more succinctly:

Anyway, I knew all that. What I learned from Wikipedia is that drummer/lyricist Neal Peart tried to contact the author of the story, Richard Foster, while making the album. He never did. Not then, anyway. But, as Wikipedia tells it:
In July 2007, Foster and Peart finally made contact with one another; Foster later posted an online account of their journey by motorcycle through the backwoods of West Virginia between stops on Rush's Snakes and Arrows tour.
Wait, what? The drummer of one of my favorite bands road tripped through my state? Neat! And, hey, it being Wikipedia and all, guess what’s laid out at the bottom of the page – a link to Foster’s post about the trip, over at the BMW Bikers of Metropolitan Washington Message Boards.

It’s a fun read. Foster met up with Peart and the other bikers in the Rush tour group after the band’s show outside of DC, from which they took the very scenic route to Pittsburgh through West Virginia (they stopped in Buckhannon for the night). Lots of pictures. Lots of confusion in the West Virginia wilderness.

Didn’t I say I love Wikipedia?

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