‘Traveling Music’ Book Review – Author – Neil Peart

Traveling Music is Neil Pearts 3rd book. It is set during a 2,500 mile trip he took to Big Bend National park in southwest Texas in his BMW Z-8. The book was essentially written based around the music he listened to on that trip, and all the memories and impressions that music evoked. 

When he put on a new CD, it would start up a whole line of memories, from when he first heard the record or the artist, to the things happening in his life during various periods, or how much it meant to have that music in his life all these years later etc. 

There seemed to be one or several tangents that would occur. A description of the where he was driving through, perhaps the town or regions local history, then he’d throw on a CD, talk about the music itself, it’s merits, then walk down memory lane to when the artist first came into his life, what impressions it left on him initially, and from there it could have taken you to his childhood memories, his high school days, an encounter with a bully or friend, early music days, his time living in England, his old days in Rush on and off the stage all the way until now. 

It brought to light certain things I had always wanted to know more about. Things like some of his first bands and learning the ropes with gigging, his experience with bullies, his experiences with drugs (nothing too serious), his times living, working and gigging in the UK before Rush, and some of his personal encounters with borderline schizophrenic fans that brings to light certain aspects of his projected character. 

Then the book took a interesting turn. The journey with his car sort of just ended with him arriving back at home, and what pages were left talked mainly about an African bicycle trip he took back in the 90’s (I think it was the 90’s). Which was actually pretty great to read more about. This trip was through the same biking organization as the ‘Masked Rider’ was, but with different traveling companions who’s company he seemed to enjoy more. There were some great little stories in there.  A cool encounter with a drum master in an African village, who was teaching a young missionary some rhythms. Neil heard the drums, went over to them, saw the boy was not ‘getting it’, then was like…’Can I try?’…The master showed him some of the rhythms, he ‘got it’ then they started jamming , improvising and having a ball. He’d won the masters respect and had the boy in awe, saying…”How can you do that?” 

“Well, I’m in the business.” He replied. 

He talked for a little bit about the benefit concert they took part in and the preparations leading up to the event. It was Toronto 2003 around the time of the ‘SARS’ outbreak, and a show was proposed to boost the spirits and the economy of Toronto. The band reluctantly agreed to play this show, mainly because it was such short notice.  Other bands on the bill were The Rolling Stones, ACDC and the Guess Who. Ever heard of em?:)

It sounds like it tripped Neil out to meet this old man right before they went on stage who turned out to be Charlie Watts. Cool

All in all this book was pretty great. A ‘long’ read at times, but lots of great educational and biographical information, with lots of great music recommendations throughout. My favorite book of his still is Ghost Rider.

I’ll end off with some quotes I’ve underlined in his book.

“If people only want to be diverted or distracted, rather than moved or inspired, then fakery will do just as well as the real thing. To the indiscriminate, or uncaring,listener, it just doesn’t matter. Sometimes I have to face the reality that music can be part of people’s lives, like wallpaper, without being the white-hot center of their lives, as it always seemed to be for me.”   – Neil

“Perhaps in the swift change of American society in which the meanings of one’s origins are so quickly lost, one of the chief values of living with music lies in its power to give us an orientation in time. In doing so, it gives significance to all those indefinable aspects of experience which nevertheless help to make us what we are. In the swift whirl of time, music is a constant, reminding us of what we were and of that toward which we aspire. Art thou troubled? Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.” – Ralph Ellison


“It seems to me that if anyone is going to ruin your career, it ought to be you.”-Neil talking in reference to record labels messing with artists to the point of sabotage. 


“The longing for ‘home’ is a common theme in art and life, but that attachment to a place is surly overrated, or misstated. ‘Home’ is a feeling about yourself, not the place around you, and you can take it with you.”  Neil


“Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.”

John Muir


“Whoever cannot settle on the threshold of the moment forgetful of the whole past, whoever is incapable of standing on a point like a goddess of victory without vertigo or fear, will never know what happiness is, and worse, will never do anything to make others happy.” Fredrick Nietzsche 


“I considered the most important gift a person could receive genetically to be strength of will, and apart from any talent or sensitivity to words and music, that was certainly the quality to which I attributed much of my own success (or at least, Survival)” – Neil


“There are no failures of talent, only failures or character.” – Someone wise once said.


Hope you enjoyed it.