GEDDY LEE On Finding 'Lost' Solo Demos: 'It Really Lifted Me Up And Made Me Remember How Much Fun It Is To Make Records'
November 30, 2023
In a new interview with Q104.3's "Out Of The Box With Jonathan Clarke", RUSH bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee, who is promoting his newly released memoir, "My Effin' Life", talked about how he rediscovered two unfinished demo songs made in the late 1990s. "Gone" and "I Am... You Are" were originally written for his 2000 solo effort "My Favourite Headache", but they didn't end up on the album. Lee came across them while sifting through the archives for "My Effin' Life".
"During the course of writing the book, my co-writer on 'My Favourite Headache' came across these demos that we had sort of forgotten about," Geddy said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "And there are two songs. I talk about them in the book a little bit. One of them is a song called 'Gone' that I had written just after Neil's [Peart, RUSH drummer] daughter, Selena [Taylor], had passed away tragically in that car accident [in 1997 at the age of 19]. [Editor's note: Peart's wife died less than a year later of cancer.] And when you lose somebody, you relive a lot of your other losses. And I was thinking about how does one deal with a sudden disappearance of someone from your life, especially a daughter. So I wrote this song with Ben [Mink]. It was the first song we wrote for 'My Favourite Headache', and we demoed it, but it just felt — it was beautiful, but I felt it was too raw. It was too close to the bone. I didn't think it was appropriate to release it, out of respect for Neil and the way he was. I didn't feel it was right. So we shelved it. And the other one was a song that we had left sort of incomplete, but most of it had been recorded. It was called 'I Am... You Are', and it was about relationships. And it's about me in the midst of a difficult conversation with my wife, which happened more than once in my life."
He continued: "I think the personal nature of that made it also maybe something I wasn't prepared to follow through with, but hearing them last year when I discovered them again, it was, like, 'Wow.' I was amazed how they stood up. So I asked my friend and part-time RUSH producer David Bottrill to come in and have a listen to him. And he came over and sat down and, well, he loved them and he loved how raw they were and he loved how honest he thought the vocals were — very different from the other things that are on the album. And he just said, 'Leave it with me. Let me play with them and see if I can clean them up,' without changing too much, because he didn't want to lose all the guitars original. My vocals were original. They were done almost 24 years ago. We put new drums on it, and we got a friend of mine to play drums on one song. And then we called Benny up, Ben Mink, 'cause David thought the song really needed a violin solo and Ben is so amazing; he's like the Jeff Beck of the violin. And he just pulled off a corker of a solo. Anyway, he mixed them and sent them to me, and I was really shocked. And it really lifted me up and made me remember how much fun it is to make records. And so they're on the ['My Effin' Life'] audiobook, and they will be released to radio, and I hope people get a kick out of them. I call them the lost demos — 'cause that's what they were, really. I'd forgotten completely about them."
To date, Lee has only released one solo album, the aforementioned "My Favourite Headache". The disc was recorded during a time when RUSH's future was uncertain. The band was in the midst of what would be a five-year break from the road following the tragic deaths of Peart's daughter and wife.
In a 2015 interview with the A.V. Club, Lee stated about what it was like writing an album without his longtime RUSH bandmates Peart and Alex Lifeson: "That was a real interesting period for me. It was tough, because I had planned to do some jamming with my dear friend Ben Mink, who is an amazing musician, producer, and songwriter in his own right, and a violinist and guitarist. Because we had been friends for so long, and we had never actually made a record together aside from him playing on the song 'Losing It' from our 'Signals' album, we had always planned that some time when the band was on a break, we would just get together and start writing together and see what happened. We were planning to do that, and suddenly tragedy struck Neil's life. His daughter was taken from him in a car accident, and everything got really weird and it was just a horrible period. So I decided after a few months this idea of working with Ben might be a real tonic for me, because I didn't know really whether there would ever be another RUSH album. I had no idea; it was not something we were focused on, and people get through tragedies in different ways. I was kind of going crazy and needed something to focus on, so this project that was sort of in the back of my mind with Ben suddenly became critical so we started getting together in my home studio in Toronto and I would go to his place in Vancouver and over a series of months we gathered a whole bunch of material together and then we decided to go for it and make the record."
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