If there was ever a question about the role of Rush in my life, 30 years ago today removed all doubts.
Just a few days earlier I withdrew from college.
But Rush book-ended this abysmal time of my life first with the release of Roll the Bones on Sept. 3, the day I left for that college, only to end with a bit of everyday glory at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, RI the night before I returned home for good when I saw Rush on the Roll the Bones tour.
I’m not so sure I believe in coincidences.
Like my Presto Tour review, this one recalls more memories of that time in my life rather than reliving the concert and a breakdown of the show. Sadly, your younger brain, mine anyway, fails to absorb early events in life, even ones that make a lasting impression. But if you’ve ever put yourself in a position where you questioned just how you got yourself in this predicament and wondered how you’ll ever get out, maybe this will hit home.
That college was not your ordinary place of higher education. Certainly, it was one of the finer institutions for my chosen field of study, at least at the time, but most of the students attending were not too serious about their studies. Or at least that was my impression.
I was forced into a standard sized dorm room with three others. I had nothing in common with any of them. One was already an alcoholic. We did not get along. On the fourth day of class, I knew cooking for the rest of my life was not in the cards. Well, at least, I wasn’t going to play them and I soon folded.
I made two good friends and sort of a third in my three-month long sentence.
The two were themselves childhood friends and roommates. One was a very nice mild-mannered guy who liked Michael Jackson. He was in the advanced track program. Within a year, he’d have a mental breakdown from the rigors of study and drop out. Eventually, drugs got the best of him and he’s now doing time in prison for murder. If you knew the young man I knew, that sentence would leave you dumbfounded.
His roommate withdrew just a few weeks after I left. Little did I know of his pending plans. That rat bastard! He was in my wedding and we converse to this day.
The third friend was a Rush fan. I don’t recall his name but if pressed I’d say it was Eric. He was like me. I rabid Rush fan. He had a Signals poster pinned on the wall in his dorm room that I eventually found and purchased which hangs framed on my wall to this day. We didn’t hang out much except for this one night. I don’t remember the ins and outs of buying the tickets to see Rush, but I think he bought them, thus he and I went with two others, I think. But here’s the thing…
I had already decided cooking wasn’t for me. Classes were based on a trimester system and the first trimester ended at Thanksgiving break. Why would I go back? Well, to prevent a total loss of tuition money and time, my parents and I decided I would return after Thanksgiving and give the traditional classroom setting, which was the next part of the educational track outside the kitchen, a worthy try to see if perhaps changing to a management degree was worth it.
Within four days, I would make my fateful decision. But I would hold off on my return flight until after seeing Rush but in my defense, the process of leaving college remained thus filling out and signing my farewell papers.
Vinnie Moore opened. And my sort of third friend and I rocked out to Rush all evening. Of all the Rush concerts I’ve seen, he was the only one I went with who air drummed and air guitared with me all night. I couldn’t help but wear my newly acquired Roll the Bones tour shirt on the flight home the next day. My mom noticed. Uh oh.
You wanted to stay just so you could see Rush, she said with an actual smile. Perhaps that played a part in my decision to return for a few more days but I did want to give that college a fair chance. I was surprised my mom wasn’t rather upset considering the money I cost them to return for what amounted to a week of study.
A few weeks later while Christmas shopping with a friend at the mall I was stopped by an astonished looking guy a little younger than me who asked where I got my Roll the Bones tour shirt. With a smile, I said, “At the concert!” and continued on my way. You see, back then you got tour shirts when the band arrived in town. A month later the Roll the Bones tour would hit Los Angeles and, of course, I wore one of my shirts that no one yet had access to.
The next fall, I attended a real college, joined the radio station and hosted Rush Hour. Yes, an hour of Rush on my college radio station. It was a 2 watt station only heard on campus but I probably hold some type of record for playing Rush six hours consecutively one night when the DJs after me failed to show up, so I kept playing Rush.
By the way, my one completed trimester at that college? I got the best grades of my collegiate career.
When we are young
Wandering the face of the Earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we’re only immortal
For a limited time
Rush Roll the Bones Tour Setlist at Providence Civic Center
- Force Ten
- Distant Early Warning
- Time Stand Still
- Roll the Bones
- Show Don’t Tell
- The Big Money
- Ghost of a Chance
- The Pass
- Where’s My Thing?
- Drum Solo
- Closer to the Heart
- Tom Sawyer
- The Spirit Of Radio
- 2112 / Finding My Way / La Villa Strangiato / Anthem / Red Barchetta