Geddy Lee Debuts Unreleased Music on Book Tour Opening Night
Geddy Lee kicked off his My Effin’ Life book tour Monday evening at The Beacon Theatre in support of his new memoir of the same name.
After an introduction from the evening’s guest interviewer, Paul Rudd, Lee walked on stage to a standing ovation. The song playing before Lee walked out, “Gone,” and the song played as the intermission came to an end “I Am… You Are” are both unreleased tracks from the sessions for the bassist’s 2000 solo album My Favorite Headache. They will be released today in conjunction with the launch of Lee's audiobook and will be streaming soon.
The duo reminisced about filming the 2009 movie I Love You, Man before unpacking some of the highlights from Lee’s book.
At 507 pages long, the book is a thorough, chronological exploration of Lee's life and storied career with Rush bandmates, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart — in the evening’s playbill, Lee remarked that the original draft was a whopping 1,200 pages.
Watch Geddy Lee Discuss Rush's First American Show
The 70-year-old musician admitted he had no intention of ever writing a memoir.
“I always looked at my life as an ongoing thing, like there was still stuff I needed to do, that this wasn’t a finished story,” Lee said.
But the loss of Peart in January of 2020 compounded with the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic and his late mother’s worsening dementia made him reconsider his stance.
“All those things made me realize that this, what you’re holding up here,” Lee said pointing to his brain, “is precious and it has a shelf life. And I just thought, ‘Well, maybe I should write my memories down before they disappear.’”
The result is sure to be a delight for any Rush fan. From early childhood memories and his father’s death when Lee was 12, to early days on tour scraping out a living as an opening band, hilarious tales from touring, tender recollections of his friendship with Lifeson and Peart, and mourning Peart’s death, the book leaves no stone unturned.
A surprising and humorous moment for some audience members came at Lee’s admittance that he was kicked out of Rush. Yes, back in 1969 after enlisting a manager, Ray Daniels, Lee was temporarily kicked out of the band at the manager’s influence. Ironically, former member Lindy Young, the brother of Lee’s wife Nancy, was the one who timidly lied to him that the band had broken up and that practice for the day was canceled.
Watch Geddy Lee Discuss Previously Unreleased Solo Tracks
Except it wasn’t canceled, and the band, now named Hadrian, had hired a new bassist and vocalist. So, Lee formed a new band and started gigging while Hadrian struggled on the gig circuit. Despite his new band’s success, Lee missed playing with Lifeson. So, one day, he decided to skip a Jimi Hendrix concert — “We all make mistakes,” Lee joked — and see the band who kicked him out.
“They were really bad,” Lee said. Before long, former drummer John Rutsey called Lee with his tail in between his legs asking the bassist to rejoin the band.
The entire third chapter of his book — 41 pages, to be precise — and a portion of the evening were dedicated to exploring Lee’s parents’ Holocaust survival story. Mary and Morris Weinrib — their emigre nom de plume, something else Lee explores in the book — were both born in Poland and later incarcerated at Auschwitz before being separated and sent to different camps.
Lee said their story was an essential part of his, adding that it’s important, especially in the midst of the ongoing war between Israel and Palestine, to acknowledge that the Holocaust did happen and that it wasn’t a made up story.
“What’s the job of a memoir?” Lee rhetorically asked. “The thing that a memoir is supposed to convey is some insight into how the person they're reading about that became that person. For me, I grew up in a household full of horror stories about World War II … What [my parents] went through, what they barely survived, that is the reason I'm here because they did survive. And I felt if you want to understand me and my value system, I have to tell the story.”
For fans in attendance — including this one — the evening felt like a bittersweet reunion. Sure, now the bassist who provided many of us with the soundtrack to our lives was now promoting a memoir and new TV show out next month. Still, just seeing Lee on stage conjured powerful emotions for many. Folks in attendance wiped tears away as Lee talked about Peart’s final days and reminisced about playing with Rush.
What became clear by the end of the evening is that Lee is ready to get back out on stage — not including guest appearances this was Lee’s first headlining gig since the last Rush concert on August 1, 2015. The Canadian Press recently reported that Lee has a solo project is in the works for 2024 and that he’s talked with Lifeson about the possibility of a collaboration.
Whether Lee and Lifeson will choose to ever play Rush music live again is still unknown. For now, the book tour will continue through major cities in North America before heading to the UK in December.
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Gallery Credit: Ryan Reed