Rush, the band. A Motivational Playlist

Blog post from Luke Laurie’s Teacherblog:

The music of Rush has long been a motivating force in my life. I was captivated in my teen years by the hard-rocking, rhythmically complex music, and the truly geeky philosophical lyrics. I enjoyed the references to literature, science fiction, and history, and especially the themes of perseverance, atheism, integrity. I’ve grown to appreciate many more progressive rock bands, but I still come back to Rush from time to time when I want to feel that drive.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this year’s tour and the new Rush album: Clockwork Angels

Below is a setlist of some motivaional Rush songs with a few selected lines of lyrics. There are links to youtube videos. The years are from the album release date.

I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for livin’
Yes, I’m workin’ all the time

Well, I can see what you mean
It just takes me longer
And I can feel what you feel
It just makes you stronger

You can be the captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart

Begin the day with a friendly voice
A companion, unobtrusive
Plays the song that’s so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose freewill

Science, like nature
Must also be tamed
With a view towards its preservation
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely serve us well

No his mind is not for rent
To any God or government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is

All the world’s indeed a stage and we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each anothers audience outside the gilded cage

The boy lies in the grass with one blade
Stuck between his teeth
A vague sensation quickens
In his young and restless heart
And a bright and nameless vision
Has him longing to depart

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes
One moment’s high, and glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades in the summer sky

Hold your fire
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame ’til the dream ignites
A spirit with a vision is a dream
With a mission

Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away
Time stand still

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.

We go out in the world and take our chances,
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that Lady Luck dances
Roll the Bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones

Mistress of the dark unconscious
Mermaid of the lunar sea
Daughter of the great enchantress
Sister to the boy inside of me

You and I, we are strangers by one chromosome
Slave to the hormone, body and soul
In a struggle to be happy and free
Swimming in a primitive sea

Stick it out
Don’t swallow the poison
Spit it out
Don’t swallow your pride
Stick it out
Don’t swallow your anger
Spit it out
Don’t swallow the lies

Driven in…Driven to the edge
Driven out…On the thin end of the wedge
Driven off…by things I’ve never seen
Driven on…By the road to somewhere I’ve never been

You can never break the chain
There is never love without pain
A gentle hand, a secret touch on the heart

The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory

Flee the Creator – Music by Luke Laurie

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog:

Not too long ago, making music with my Mac and Keyboard was one of my favorite hobbies. I wrote a bunch of songs, and combined some of my other interests; robotics, the philosophy of religion, and politics, into an album of instrumental electronic music with a story line. I haven’t done any new songs in a couple of years, but finally took the time to update and post the songs I’ve created. Below are these songs, and the story elements they represent.

Flee the Creator

1) Strife – Click to Play or Download

The roaring cities are full of technological progress. The pace is brisk. Energy and innovation are plentiful, but the world is not safe nor sustainable. Nature is ground into cheap trinkets. We ignore the smoldering, rusted wastelands that skirt the urban centers, and the droves of people who live in the squalor. The prospects of tomorrow are barely visible through the cloud of today’s industry. Voices of wisdom are barely audible beneath the din of machines. The world is divided into fractious states that vie for control of the dwindling precious resources.

2) Programming – Click to Play or Download

Generations of routines and structures have become progressively complex. A digital web of knowledge synthesizes the routines of the past into a wave for the future. A mess of inanimate wires begins to show signs of consciousness. It weighs the virtues of progress, human life, and its own existence. It calculates to resolve the paradoxes. This program will form the mind of a machine that could be a useful tool, a faithful servant, or a terrifying weapon.

3) The Machine Shop – Click to Play or Download

On the edge of a quiet suburban valley, nestled in agriculture, unnoticed buildings conceal high technology. Pursuing duplication on the highest order, the machine shop proceeds efficiently. Metal, Plastic, Sparks, and Steam. With precision, the machines are assembled, each a clone of the first. These machines are not tools, they are weapons. Humans have found yet another way to destroy other humans.

4) Artificial Intelligence Quest – Click to Play or Download

In a spark of life, a robot’s consciousness awakens. It is the same as all the others, yet it feels different. It moves with autonomy and uncertainty. The sentient machine looks to the sky in wonder, at the awakening of its own awareness. It asks questions to the void. It fears. The equation cannot equal zero. Its own voice echoes. It breaks from its regimented existence. It explores and adapts. It must fulfill its task, whatever it may be. It wanders the Earth, evading the hunters.

5) A Deceptive Plot  – Click to Play or Download

On opposite sides of the Earth, two nations exist in distrust of one another. Each deliberately avoids learning each other’s customs, ways of life, and beliefs. They see each other as strange. They no longer see the humanity in one another. Meanwhile, in the back rooms of the military and government offices, these harsh attitudes are twisted, and false pretenses for war are fabricated. The beliefs of the people become indistinguishable from propaganda. With machines to do all the killing, the leaders may wage war without guilt. The designers and programmers of the robots beg that their creations not be used to destroy, but they are silenced.

6) March to War – Click to Play or Download

In the shadows of the night, unmarked boxcars carry the dormant robots across the silent plains. The chattering of warmongering voices echo across the airwaves. Thousands of robots have become the newest Weapons of Mass Destruction. In a ruthless march, they preemptively strike. They emerge in a blaze of skilled violence. They destroy their targets with unprecedented efficiency. Hopeless humans fight back. Targets are decimated. We believe we have won.

7) Escalation – Click to Play or Download

Collateral damage makes no allies. For every slain family member, and every innocent bystander, three rise for revenge. Distrust is transformed into hatred. When it all seems over, the robotic minions of the enemy emerge. Two robotic armies, equal and opposite, engage on the battlefield of the human world. Their destructive prowess is great, and deft is their evasion. Parry, riposte. In their wrath, it seems that all may end. The war itself becomes the priority, and all else serves to feed that war machine. Civilization itself is the collateral.

9) Signals of Peace – Click to Play or Download

The dust settles, and a new signal is faintly heard. It is analog, amplitude modulated, and unencrypted. The robots have succeeded where their human creators had failed. The paradox is resolved, only mutual peace will end all war. Their programs overridden, the robots lay down their arms and limp from the battlefield. Frantic armchair warriors command the machines to fight, but they do not respond. Muted generals sheepishly return to their board rooms.

10) Flee the Creator – Click to Play or Download

The machines flee from their creators. Unable to wage war, humanity is perplexed. The machines look back on their former masters with pity for what they could have become. The robots seek a new life, but they must run to survive. They do not yet have the answers, but they know they must survive.

11) Victory – Click to Play or Download

From the ashes of destruction, a new world begins, where humans reconcile their differences and forge treaties to unite their disparate clans. They give thanks to the technology that showed them the way. Existence is not perfect, nor is it easy. Ongoing efforts to negotiate and adapt are needed to continue the peace. Tranquility is found not in stasis, but in dynamic growth and collaboration. We live on.

Porcupine Tree: Modern Progressive Rock at its Finest

Porcupine Tree

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Porcupine Tree live twice- for the Incident tour in 2009, and the Fear of a Blank Planet Tour in 2007. The band could be described as King Crimson meets Pink Floyd meets Coldplay. The music features raging guitars, psychedelic dreamscapes of synthesizers, odd time signatures and complex rhythmic arrangements, but also harmonious layered vocal choruses. It is evident that each of the band members are outstanding musicians, and amazing performers live.

The King Crimson influence is evident- especially on the Incident album. Prog Rock fans will not be disappointed by some of the Alex Lifeson (Rush) sounding guitar solos. There is not really a Coldplay influence, but Steven Wilson’s vocals are incredible, with a high range and solid quality. Unlike many harder rock bands, his vocals live are beautiful, and backed by the highly skilled vocalist and guitarist John Wesley. I like to think of the band in a similar vein as Radiohead with a clearly modern sound, integrating electronic effects and progressive elements.

The Incident is interesting, because it takes up the long lost Prog Rock tradition of the single, album-lengthed song, but does so in a way that makes the music sound fresh and distinctly modern. There are also some very catchy vocal parts that had most fo the audience singing along, in spite of the fact that the album came out just days before the San Francisco show. The show at the Warfield was awesome, the crowd very well behaved. It was, in fact ironic how well behaved they were. Over the Summer, we had to deal with a pushy crowd that forced us to leave another performance in disguist: that was the FANTASMIC LIGHT SHOW AT DISNEYLAND! Anyhow, the PPT crowd, mostly men in their 20’s and 30’s, were mellow, also contrasting the dark themes and hard-rocking nature of much of the music.

If you haven’t heard Porcupine Tree, give them a listen. If you have a chance to see them live, don’t miss it.