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Rush, Rock Music, and the Middle Class


Canadian progressive rock band Rush was the voice of the suburban middle class. In this book, Chris McDonald assesses the band's impact on popular music and its legacy for legions of fans. McDonald explores the ways in which Rush's critique of suburban life -- and its strategies for escape -- reflected middle-class aspirations and anxieties, while its performances manifested the dialectic in prog rock between discipline and austerity, and the desire for spectacle and excess. The band's reception reflected the internal struggles of the middle class over cultural status. Critics cavalierly dismissed, or apologetically praised, Rush's music for its middlebrow leanings. McDonald's wide-ranging musical and cultural analysis sheds light on one of the most successful and enduring rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s.

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The soundtrack of late 20th-century suburbia

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction 1. "Anywhere But Here": Rush and Suburban Desires for Escape 2. "Swimming Against the Stream": Individualism and Middle-Class Subjectivity in Rush 3. "The Work of Gifted Hands": Professionalism and Virtuosity in Rush's Style 4. "Experience to Extremes": Discipline, Detachment, and Excess in Rush 5. "Reflected in Another Pair of Eyes": Representations of Rush Fandom 6. "Scoffing at the Wise?": Rush, Rock Criticism, and the Middlebrow Notes Works Cited Selected Discography Index

About the Author

Chris McDonald is an ethnomusicologist who specializes in popular music studies. He teaches at Cape Breton University.


"A well-researched, provocative glimpse into one of the most popular, yet oft-overlooked bands in the history of rock." Theo Cateforis, editor of The Rock History Reader

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