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Drummer and lyricist Neil Peart: "There was a lot I wanted to address in that song, and it's probably one of the hardest ones I've ever written. I spent a lot of time on it, refining it, and even more doing research. There was one song previously, called 'Manhattan Project' where I wanted to write about the birth of the nuclear age. Well, easier said than done, especially when [writing] lyrics, you've got a couple of hundred words to say what you want to say. So each word counts, and each word had better be accurate, and so I found in the case of the Manhattan Project, I was having to go back and read histories of the time, histories of the place, biographies of all the people involved, and that's not without its own rewards, but it's a lot of work to go to to write a song - having to read a dozen books and collate all your knowledge and experience just so you can write, you know, if it says the scientists were in the desert sands, well, make sure they were and why, and all that. So with this song it was the same. I felt concerned about it, but, at the same time, I didn't want the classic thing of 'Oh, life's not so bad, you know, it's worth living' and all that. I didn't want one of those pat, kind of clichéd, patronizing statements, so I really worked hard to find out true stories, and among the people that I write to are people who are going to universities, to MIT, and collecting stories from them about people they had known and what they felt, and why the people had taken this desperate step and all of that and trying really hard to understand something that, fundamentally, to me is totally un-understandable. I just can't relate to it at all, but I wanted to write about it. And the facet that I most wanted to write about was to demythologize it - the same as with 'Manhattan Project' - it demythologized the nuclear age, and it's the same thing with this facet - of taking the nobility out of it and saying that yes, it's sad, it's a horrible, tragic thing if someone takes their own life, but let's not pretend it's a hero's end. It's not a triumph. It's not a heroic epic. It's a tragedy, and it's a personal tragedy for them, but much more so for the people left behind, and I really started to get offended by the samurai kind of values that were attached to it, like here's a warrior that felt it was better to die with honor, and all of that kind of offended me. I can understand someone making the choice; it's their choice to make. I can't relate to it, and I could never imagine it, for myself, but still I thought it's a really important thing to try to get down."
Bass player and lead singer Geddy Lee: "There are certain songs, like 'The Pass,' where I felt it was more important to keep the lyrics intact and to build up a musical statement that's born out of the message of the song. In a case like that, I have to do a lot of thinking before a single note is written and I really immerse myself into the song. I mean, if I have to sing Neil's lyrics, I have to feel some sort of relationship with what he's talking about. I have to feel in concert with them in order to make it believable, to myself and to the listener. So there is a lot of conversation that goes down about each song before I start writing melodies." (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 2)
The Garbage drummer/songwriter produced the Nirvana album Nevermind
, and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish
and Siamese Dream
Shaun Morgan of Seether
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Mike Watt of the Minutemen tells the story of the song that became an Indie Rock touchstone. It's also the story of what Mike calls "The Movement."