Fly By Night
1975 | Rock
Spotify | Amazon
"Live for yourself, there’s no one else, more worth living for. -- Begging hands and bleeding hearts, will only cry for more."
- The album hit #113 on the Billboard 200.
- Fly By Night is the first Rush Album to feature Neil Peart on drums & lyrics replacing drummer John Rutsey.
- The music for Anthem predates Peart joining the band and was written with Rutsey.
THE HOT TAKES
Another gem hiding in plain sight. The way I hear it, this is a tribute to the giants of industry. Perhaps the so-called "robber barons," or perhaps just any man or woman willing to face the odds and strive for greatness. After doing a bit of research, it looks like my ears were already on the right track. This is, in fact, a tribute to Ayn Rand and her novel by the same name. Now, I've read some Rand but I have never read Anthem, so my commentary on that particular relationship is going to be minimal. However here's a true story that I don't believe I've ever told publicly: When my son was very young, around 2-3 years old, I would read "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and "The Virtue of Selfishness" (both by Rand) to him. He seemed to enjoy the pacing of the words, without knowing what I was saying. Turning to the song, the same spirit very much emerges in the lyrics: "Well, I know they've always told you selfishness was wrong; Yet it was for me, not you, I came to write this song."
"Neil Peart’s love of Ayn Rand really shows in this song. It is about the virtue of selfishness, as she put it. The idea that pursuing your own interests is not only not an indicator of moral poverty, but it is the high calling of the individual. It is placing your concern where your value lies and therefore benefitting from that value. When we concern ourselves with what is in our best interests, we also must learn to cooperate and negotiate to give to another what they want in order to serve ourselves. This idea is brilliantly laid out in much of her work, here is one great example. “Sacrifice” is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue. Thus, altruism gauges a man’s virtue by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values (since help to a stranger or an enemy is regarded as more virtuous, less “selfish,” than help to those one loves). The rational principle of conduct is the exact opposite: always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values, and never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one. And from the lyrics "Though I know they’ve always Told you selfishness is wrong / Yet it was for me not you /I came to write this song."
I think this song must have been thrilling back when it was released. Considering it predates my birth by about a decade I can only image hearing this after Working Man. Wondering what was going to come next from a band making such great strides in musicality and content. Was this analogous to Rand’s Anthem when it was released? I’m not sure because that’s even further into the past. What I can ascribe to is the ways in which the message of self reliance and personal responsibility has empowered me personally. Rand gets a lot of shit for her “virtue of selfishness” because people now only read the headlines. To get into the philosophy it’s about putting yourself in alignment with the incentives that exist in being a thinking being with a desire to survive and in some cases thrive. No one wants that for you greater than yourself and being in alignment with that understanding is a power I can’t truly explain. There will always be outside forces set to conspire so a solid understanding of your own toolkit is indispensable.