5.4 lifeson

In the spring of 2013, the band "Rush" was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Even though the highly popular and influential group had been eligible to receive this honor for many years, for whatever reason, they had never even been afforded a spot in the organization's official ballot.

That annual oversight drew a growing tide of criticism from a legion of fans from all over the world.

The band, very graciously, always publicly showed little interest in whether or not they would ever be invited into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"We've been saying for a long time, years, that this wasn't a big deal," drummer Neil Peart said at the induction ceremony. "It turns out, it kind of is."

Peart and lead singer Geddy Lee delivered heart-felt speeches, thanking the many people who helped the band create a unique place in music history and a career that spanned more than four decades.

They did what so many others had done before on that same platform.

After being disrespected, snubbed and considered unworthy for so long, they showed up to an awards ceremony and accepted their induction with a sense of reverence — despite a few tongue-in-cheek references to how long they had to wait to be receive that honor.

Other bands and musicians have done the same.

Many of those who are critical of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are suddenly eager to show up and accept an award from the organization when their time finally arrives.

Peart and Lee did pretty much what they were supposed to do.

Alex Lifeson did not.

The final member of the Canadian trio to step to the podium, he only uttered one word.


And he said it over, and over, and over, and over again for more than two minutes.

Lifeson made funny faces, threw his arms around, changed the inflection of his voice to mock a range of emotions, answered an invisible telephone and even pulled a piece of paper of out of his pocket with an acceptance speech written on it.

The crowd, which was filled with Rush fans, absolutely loved it.

His bewildered bandmates, had a much different reaction.

"I wanted to kill him at the three-minute mark," Lee told Rolling Stone in 2015. "Neil and I were threatening to knock him on the head and drag him offstage."

Lifeson claims the memorable moment wasn't planned.

"Well, it just seemed like a good idea at the time," Lifeson told Rolling Stone in 2015. "I had a speech written and I was trying to memorize it and I couldn't remember it. And I thought I might as well just (go) 'blah blah blah.' And I thought, 'Well, that's a good idea.' And so I thought it would tell the story of our history and how we got to that stage without using any words. And the interesting thing is that everybody remembers my speech."

One word, repeated over and over, made a bigger statement than anything Lifeson, or anyone else, could have said on that platform.

It wasn't about an acceptance speech.

It was about speech.

Lifeson was expected to stand on that stage, accept an honor he should have received long ago, and be humble about it.

He couldn't do that.

Instead he mocked the whole fiasco with one simple word.

Over and over.

It was brilliant.

Lee, Lifeson and Peart teamed up to write some of the most iconic rock anthems of all time — "Tom Sawyer," "The Spirit of Radio," "Closer to the Heart" and "Limelight."

The words in those songs have made a tremendous impact on millions of people all around the world.

Including me.

The one word that Lifeson uttered over and over on that stage eight years ago, though, still resonates with me more than anything else.

And always will.

"I will choose a path that's clear. I will choose freewill" — Rush, "Freewill."

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