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By Martin Popoff
I asked Alex to comment on Neil's lyrics, a set of enigmatic, almost haiku-like images that left me baffled but somehow refreshed; I'd say the most mature and even spiritual of the man's rich, literary tradition.
"Obviously, having gone through what Neil went through, and what we all went through, it was definitely going to impact on where this record was going to go. To me the record is very optimistic. It's all about recovery and about hope, about a future. And the course that the lyrics take to get that message across, covers a lot of ground, from a very personal experience to a more universal representation of it. And Geddy and Neil worked very, very closely on getting that idea across. Neil has always been, I think, a writer who has written from an observer's point of view. He doesn't dictate one way or another, but he lets his feelings out and they are taken in a universal manner. I think with this record it was a very, very personal experience and they worked closely together so the idea that Neil was trying to get across could be presented by someone else, in this case by Geddy. He has to sing the lyrics with conviction. So they worked very closely and it was very professionally done."
"I mentioned Peaceable Kingdom," notes Alex, when asked to point out a particularly impressive guitar riff or solo on the album, leading into a revealing discussion of the man's controversial guitar style. "I think that's probably my favourite song on the record. The direction that I really wanted to go in for this record was very anti-guitar, anti-rock guitar direction. Geddy plays a lot more chordal stuff, and that comes from his solo record. He wrote a lot of those songs on bass. And you play chords to sing along to. And he naturally gravitated towards that style, and when he would do things like that, it took me somewhere else. I could play single note lines, play more of a bass part when he was playing more of a rhythm guitar part. So we were changing roles and that really... you know... I really like trying to go in through the back door if I can. For me what was important was to get the guitar to sound dissonant at times, and very rich harmonically, a lot of noise going on in the background of whatever the melody was, counterpoint as much as possible to what Geddy was playing and sometimes to what Neil was playing, not only in terms of rhythm, but also in terms of texture and melody. And I say Peaceable Kingdom, because I think that's a great example of all those different elements, you know, of shifts in tempo and shifts in rhythm and of melody."
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