Holy Rush

My family moved to Tennessee when I entered my teen years, and it was there that I met my first true love. She was a southern girl whose father was a fire-and-brimstone minister. I was 16 at the time, and to prove my devotion to her I agreed to attend one of her father’s church services.

I was completely unprepared for what I saw. The service started simply enough, but once the sermon was underway, the reverend began speaking in tongues. You couldn’t actually understand what he was saying, but a lady in the congregation was kind enough to translate his babbling into English. And to make this scene even more surreal, I should add that she had inexplicably shaved off her eyebrows and painted in ones that looked like Spock’s. I kid you not.

A few months later I attended another of his services, and it turned out that the church pianist was sick. I kinda-sorta knew how to play, so my girlfriend volunteered me as a replacement.

After my eyeballs returned to their normal size, I tried to explain that I only knew a couple of rock songs – but they were desperate for a piano player, and I was a desperate young teen, so I agreed to do it. But to repay my girlfriend for volunteering me, I said that I’d do it only if she would sing.

A short while later I found myself seated at a piano in front of a hushed church audience that was expecting something inspiring.

So I gave them what they wanted. I played “Closer to the Heart” by Rush.

To my girlfriend’s credit, she found a way to sing it like a hymn. And to my credit, I skipped my piano version of the guitar solo (it would’ve rocked, btw).

I sheepishly left the service, feeling a mixture of elation and guilt for having pulled it off. But I felt better when the reverend came up and shook my hand, congratulating me for the “inspirational music.”

PS: It’s a good thing they didn’t ask me to play again, because the only other song I knew was Iron Man, and that never sounded quite right on piano.

14 thoughts on “Holy Rush

  1. Nice.
    I sat through a tent revival like that once for a girlfriend who’s mother kinda lost it mid life and ended up religious crazy like the mother from the Stephen King novel CARRIE. Just crazy. She said if I went, she’d take us to the all-you-can-eat buffet afterwards.
    Who could resist?

  2. I’ll refrain from chuckling or commenting on the religious side of your experience, but I do have to say that Rush is about as good a non-hymn as you could have played. There’s one hymn that sounds just like the Oscar Meyer Weiner song – its nearly impossible to hear it without laughing. And there’s another hymn that talks about, “Were the whole ocean filled with ink, and the skies a scroll.” Every time we sing it I think of this: http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/index.jhtml?ml_video=35785

  3. I used to write the lyrics to my fav rush songs on the back of the bulletin to stay awake in church… tom sawyer…limelight…tears…sub divisions… If you had played closer to the heart at my church… I would have dug out my lighter!

  4. *laugh* that rocked! I’ve sat through a surprising number of odd religious ceremonies myself all for girls I was madly in love with at the time, from a 3 hour Catholic mass that ended in a public questioning of my circumcision to an interpretive version of a Wiccan solstice dance. Ahh, the things we do for love.
    Rush… frigging classic.

  5. Yes! When we are practicing in Reality or Quest, I find myself playing Rush a lot. Of course, no one knows the songs, but it’s still a fun thing to do!

  6. Great post Nick!
    Seeing those old Rush videos does the body good. I would have loved to have seen their faces if you got up there to play, only knowing a few Slayer songs. ‘Cult’ would have been strangely amusing. Nice job.

  7. Smooth. I especially like it in view of the fact that a lot of fundamentalist types regard Rush as being blatantly Satanic. ’cause, you know, if there’s a five-pointed star and a circle, it must be an evil device for summoning demons! It’s eeeevil, I tells ya!
    Too bad about the sudden closing of Starwood; odds were high that this year’s tour was going to start there.

  8. Gee that’s odd…. once while attending a Rush concert, I was asked on stage to perform a song and all I knew were a couple of hymns!! J/K of course LOL… couldn’t help it, Nick.

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