Tag Archives: music

Nerd Rock: Rush

Círdan’s note: Welcome back music lovers. On Monday, we kicked off our Nerd Rock series with the psychedelic Pink Floyd. On Wednesday, we tuned in to the revolutionary Led Zeppelin. Today, we take a listen to the band Rolling Stone called, “Geek Gods” — Rush! This blog series was developed by one of our high schoolers, Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528. Hopefully he will continue it in the future, but for now we hope you walk away with at least a few new favorite songs. Let us know in the comments! Also, make sure you read the introduction and his explanation of what makes rock music nerdy in Monday’s Post before continuing to this one. Enjoy!

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Rush

Rush is the nerdiest band of all time. Other bands may feature themes that nerds can connect to but the members of Rush are nerds in the same we are nerds. Because of this, the Canadian progressive power trio has a large and loyal fanbase big enough to rival wp-1462844629413.jpgthat of the Grateful Dead. The band is made up of three of the greatest musicians of all time. Geddy Lee not only plays the bass like a boss but also sings and plays the keyboard at the same time causing him to be rated the #1 bass player of all time by WatchMojo. Alex Lifeson’s guitar skills are legendary (rated second best underrated guitarist by WatchMojo) and (depending on who you talk to) Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time using a straight-up orchestra of drums that John Bonham or Keith Moon never used. Peart also served as the main lyricist, writing epic sci-fi and fantasy stories while addressing other elements of nerd culture. The music of Rush is everything a nerd could want:  intelligent, perfectly calculated and downright epic.

Rush formed in 1968 in Toronto. The original lineup consisted of high school friends Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson along with drummer John Rutsey. They were mostly a heavy blues rock band taking cues from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. wp-1462844647848.pngThey released their first album in 1974 where it achieved moderate success with the song Working Man. However because of health problems, Rutsey had to quit the band leaving Rush without a drummer. They recruited Neil Peart who easily surpassed Rutsey as a drummer. Peart also became the band’s primary lyricist. Peart was a major nerd and wrote songs based off works of fantasy and sci-fi. On the band’s next album Fly by Night the group experimented with longer and more complex songs, such as on the song By-Tor And The Snow Dog, which told the epic tale of two fantasy creatures fighting. The album also featured Tolkien references on the song Rivendell.

By Rush’s third album, Caress of Steel, they had gone full prog (progressive rock), now telling epic fantasy stories on over-10-minute-long songs, such as The Necromancer and The Fountain of Lamneth. This obviously put them at odds with their producers who wp-1462844600867.jpgwanted shorter and more accessible songs. Rush refused to comply and released 2112, an over 20 minute long seven part science fiction epic set in the future where rebels battled the evil “Priests of Syrinx” with the power of music, on the album of the same name. The album proved successful, and Rush was beginning to make a large fan base with young nerds who connected with their music. Throughout the rest of the 70’s Rush released more albums filled with songs about greek gods, robots, space travel, immortality, talking trees, and black holes, and though critics either ignored or bashed them, Rush had reached “cult status” with fans.

Listen to the second movement of 2112:

Listen to the nerdy The Trees: 

By the 1980s, Rush began to incorporate synthesizers into their music — meaning Geddy Lee had to add a third job to his role in the band. They began to get radio airplay as well with songs like The Spirit Of  Radio when they started writing shorter songs. In wp-1462844590355.jpg1981, the album Moving Pictures came out which features (at least what critics will tell you) their best set of songs. Rush gradually used more and more synths on their next four albums. However, the use of synths didn’t mean the music got any less awesome. Songs like Natural Science and Countdown show Peart’s geeky love of science and the excitement of space travel, while the song Subdivisions discussed the struggle of not fitting in, basically being a nerd.

Watch the music video for Subdivisions: 

By 1989, Rush had returned to a harder guitar-driven sound with the album Presto and continued this throughout the 90s with albums like Roll the Bones and Counterparts. Though it looked like the band was over after Peart suffered a major personal tragedy, the band returned wp-1462844548883.jpgin 2002 with Vapor Trails leading to Snakes and Arrows in 2007. Rush latest album, Clockwork Angels, released in 2012, was an epic concept album later adapted into a steampunk, dystopian fiction novel. In 2010 the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage was made telling the story of the band and their struggle of being constantly overlooked. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years later and recently celebrated their 40th anniversary with the R40 tour, rumored to be their last major tour.

Watch the trailer for the R40 tour: 

Watch the trailer for Beyond the Lighted Stage:

That’s it for now. I hope you all will check out these awesome artists!!! Nerd (and Rock) On!

Coming Soon: The Beatles, The Who, Queen, Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, and David Bowie.      

For one final video, take a listen to the epic The Spirit of Radio:

Send us an owl: What is your favorite Rush song and why? What other bands do you consider to be nerdy? Leave us some song suggestions in the comments. 

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Nerd Rock: Led Zeppelin

Círdan’s note: Welcome back music lovers. On Monday, we kicked off our Nerd Rock series with Pink Floyd. This blog series was developed by one of our high schoolers, Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528. Make sure you read the introduction and his explanation of what makes rock music nerdy in Monday’s Post before tuning in to this one.  Enjoy!wp-1462761910460.jpg

Led Zeppelin

wp-1462762574688.jpgYou don’t get more epic than Led Zeppelin. British hard rock band Led Zeppelin is one of music’s greatest artists. As far as bands go, they are only second to the Beatles in terms of innovation and influence. They revolutionized live shows and made Rock and Roll about albums, not singles. Though they were only around for a little over a decade, they created about as flawless as a career as possible through their nine albums. Rated the 3rd greatest artist of all time by VH1, 14th by Rolling Stone Magazine, and second greatest band of all time by WatchMojo their music is timeless and oh-so nerdy, often borrowing elements from fantasy and history for their music and appearance.  

wp-1462762565582.jpgLed Zeppelin formed in 1968 as a heavy blues rock band made up of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham, and bassist John Paul Jones. They released their first album in 1969. It was made up of  blues covers, acoustic tracks, and psychedelic songs. It began one of the most successful debut albums of all times becoming the fifth best selling album of the 60s. They released their second album Led Zeppelin II later in the year which outsold its predecessor and is now seen as one of the most important albums in hard rock and heavy metal history. The album featured more original songs written by Page and Plant such as Whole Lotta Love and Ramble On.

Listen to the Tolkien influenced “Ramble On“, especially the second verse:

Led Zeppelin were renowned for their incredible musical ability. Jimmy Page is considered to be one of rock’s all great guitar players (usually ranking just under Jimi Hendrix). John Bonham is usually rated the greatest drummer of all time, while Jones was known not only for his skill with a bass but with the keyboards as well. Plant became known for
his powerful, bluesy voice that cemented him as one of the greatest frontmen of all time. Led Zeppelin’s live shows wp-1462762491966.jpgbecame legendary partly due to the fact that they lasted for many hours, much longer than had ever been done before. They were also known for never releasing singles, meaning you couldn’t go to the record store and buy a single Led Zep song, you had to buy the whole album.

Watch Jimmy Page play an incredible guitar solo with a bow:

By Led Zeppelin’s fourth album in 1971 they were the biggest band in the world, taking over from the now broken-up Beatles. The album featured many of Zeppelin’s best songs such as Black Dog and When the Levee Breaks and of course, Stairway to Heaven.  Led Zeppelins lyrics began to get more complex as they now used the works of Tolkien as inspiration for songs. Stairway to Heaven, Ramble On, Misty Mountain Hop, and The Battle of Evermore all reference LOTR in some way. The group also referenced Norse mythology and Vikings with songs like the Immigrant Song and No Quarter.

Try to find all the Tolkien references in the geeky “The Battle of Evermore”- 

wp-1462762553227.jpgOn their next few albums Led Zeppelin began to experiment with more types of music such as funk, reggae, ballads, progressive rock, folk, along with using spanish and eastern influences, such as on the song Kashmir (featuring the nerdy line: “I am a traveler of both time and space”) . Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti were some of the bestselling albums of the decade and their new musical styles helped bring in new fans.

However in the late 70’s personal tragedies, such as Plant being injured in a car crash and his young son dying of illness, along with drug use caused Led Zeppelin to begin to disintegrate. Soon after the release on their 8th album In Through The Out Door, John Bonham died of alcohol poisoning leading to the band’s breakup in 1980. In 1982, the album Coda was released. It was made of previously recorded but unreleased tracks. Page and Plant both pursued solo careers during the 80’s and 90’s. In 2007 the band reunited with Bonham’s son, Jason, on drums for the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert leading to a DVD release of the concert in 2012.  

Watch the trailer for the Celebration Day concert: 

Our Nerd Rock series continues on Friday with Rush! 

wp-1462762540468.jpgP.S. At the meeting, we talked about Page’s playing of the guitar with a violin bow and how different and unique that is, and how that is, really, what a nerd looks like. What do you think?

Send us an owl: What is your favorite Led Zeppelin song and why?

Nerd Rock: Pink Floyd

Círdan’s note: A few weeks ago, we asked our young adults if they had any topics or questions they wanted to address in a student-led discussion. One of our high-schoolers Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528, put together a fabulous presentation on Nerd Rock that we thought was too good not to share. We’ve transformed his powerpoint into blog form so that you can enjoy and rock along with us. Remember our Grey Havens YA slogo: “Being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about how you love it.” Ethan’s enthusiasm for rock and the connections he draws between music, fandom, and being a nerd are what Grey Havens YA is all about. This post is part one of three (so far), so stay tune for more classic rock and nerdy awesomeness. Party on, dude!

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Best of Both Worlds

You wouldn’t think it but Classic Rock and Fandoms go together extremely well. I can’t think of a nerdier type of music. While pop has to always please a mainstream audience, rock can sound like whatever you want it too as long as it just sounds awesome. While pop music has to fit inside a box, rock music can have large amounts of fans without a single hit. While the artists in this series are all pretty well known (except for maybe one), many people don’t see the nerdy side of their music. That’s what I am going to point out with this series and hopefully introduce to some new music that’s sure to get you as excited as the next Marvel movie.

Here is what I mean when I say “nerdy music,” and these are the factors that I used to make this list:

  • Characters- The members of the band are cool and may even may be nerds themselves.
  • Backstory- The band itself has an epic story (such as their rise to stardom, lineup changes, etc.)
  • Visuals- The band’s logo, album artwork, or images at live shows are nerdy in appearance such as taking from sci-fi or fantasy.
  • Talent- The band members have almost superhuman talent on their instrument.
  • Lyrics- The group’s lyrics feature nerdy themes (such as not fitting in, science, or themes and ideas based off of novels or poems)
  • Fandom References- The band’s lyrics or imagery references fandoms we still enjoy today.
  • Solid Franchise- The band has produced a steady stream of quality material during their time together.
  • Storytelling- Their music tells stories through either individual songs or concept albums

So Here We Go!!!

Pink Floyd.

wp-1462754049217.jpgPsychedelic/Progressive Rock band Pink Floyd is one of the most successful and innovative music artists of all time. Rated the 51st greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, The 18th greatest artist by VH1 and the 4th greatest rock band by WatchMojo, Pink Floyd is a combination of intelligent lyrics, lengthy and complex arrangements, unique themes and imagery, and spellbinding live shows.

Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd started out as a psychedelic band led by frontman Syd Barrett who used fairytales and works of fantasy as inspiration for Pink Floyd’s earliest albums such as The Piper At The Gates of Dawn and the space themed Saucerful of Secrets.        

Listen to the Tolkien influenced “The Gnome” from Pink Floyd’s first album. 


By their second albums Barrett had succumbed to the excess of the 60’s, his mind altered by drugs leaving Pink Floyd without a frontman. Bassist Roger Waters stepped up to the task working to find Pink Floyd a new sound, while guitarist David GIlmour stepped in to replace Barrett. The group tried out experimental soundscaping on
Atom Heart Mother and film soundtracks on albums like Obscured By Clouds and More. They even scored the the music for the moon landing on British television. In 1971 they released Meddle, which showed the band moving in a more progressive direction. Little did they know they were about to become one of the biggest bands of all time.

Listen to Pink Floyd sample the Doctor Who theme on “One of These Days” (at 2:20)

With the release of Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 Pink Floyd became superstars. The album spent 917 non-consecutive weeks on the charts and is now the 3rd best selling album of all time. Pink Floyd had found their mind-bending, epic sound with Waters providing the philosophical lyrics and themes, often using Barrett’s mental illness for ideas, which led to some of their most famous songs such as: Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and Brain Damage, while Gilmour’s guitar skills and the rest of twp-1462754049220.pnghe band’s musical talent (Richard Wright’s keyboards and Nick Mason’s drums) put unique music behind the words. The band released the album Wish You Were Here in 1975 while also receiving recognition for their live shows which featured laser and light shows.

As Pink FLoyd’s fame grew Waters’s lyrics began to grow more political. In 1977 Pink Floyd released Animals, an Orwellian concept album that compared social classes to barnyard animals and in 1979 they put out The Wall, a concept album telling the story of a rocker who builds a metaphorical wall from humanity. The album became the best-selling album of the decade (although DSOTM would later outsell it). However Waters (who wrote The Wall pretty much all by himself) began to see the band as his own. In-fighting caused the band to break up after one final album in 1980 (basically a Waters solo album).

Listen to “Pigs on the Wing Pt.2” from Animals

To people’s surprise, Gilmour, Wright, and Mason reunited for a new album in 1987 without Waters ensuring a legal battle over Pink Floyd name. Waters eventually relented and the new Pink Floyd lineup scored a few hits such as Learning to Fly and On the Turning Away. In 1994 the group released the album The Division Bell, an altogether stronger and more focussed effort. In 2005 Pink Floyd managed to put aside their differences for one last show together at the Live 8 Charity Concert before going their separate ways. Richard Wright passed away in 2008 and a mostly instrumental Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, was released in 2014 honoring his achievements.  

Now, I leave you with two final videos. Watch this incredible guitar solo from the Live 8 show (solo starts at 20:54, but you’ll also enjoy the rest of the video):

Finally, see more about the Pink Floyd live show experience in this trailer for Roger Waters’s new concert movie: 

Our Nerd Rock series continues on Wednesday with Led Zeppelin!

P.S. At the meeting we also enjoyed watching the first eight minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as it syncs up perfectly with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was pretty spectacular!

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite Pink Floyd song and why?