Nobody's Hero
by Rush

Album: Counterparts (1993)
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  • Neil Peart (Modern Drummer magazine, February 1994): "I had a lot of reflections over the last couple of years about the nature of heroism, what a 'role model' is supposed to be, and the differences between the two. That thought manifested itself in a song on the new album called 'Nobody's Hero.' A role model is obviously a very positive example of what can be accomplished, and it's what I think, with all humility and pride, Rush has been a good role model for other bands."
  • Neil Peart (1993 Raw Magazine): "If people think that discussing homosexuality is controversial, then they've been living under a rock. 'Nobody's Hero' will probably polarize people, even though the AIDS issue is only a small part of the lyrical theme, and people will probably jump to conclusions. That's their problem. I don't worry about it, whether it's brave or foolish or whatever. When things affect you, you talk about them and it comes out in your music. You let it fly. I never had the slightest idea that it could be interpreted as controversial until someone pointed it out to me after we'd finished the record. I guess I've always worked in the music business, which is very tolerant environment." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 2
  • The boy in this song is a old friend of Neil's that he met while in London in 1971. He used to work with him. Then years later he heard that his friend had died. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Taylor - Riceville, TN
  • In Martin Popoff's Rush: Album by Album, Chris Irwin said, "Yes, there's the reference to the Paul Bernardo murders. Kristian French was one of Paul Bernardo's victims, and she was the stepsister of Brad French, who is Neil's lifelong best friend. And that's why I didn't know the girl, but I knew her family. And I think, in fact, Brad and Neil are second cousins. And it's a complicated point, but I think he's saying just because somebody is a victim, don't glorify that. You should basically think about the person that they were, rather than the fate that befell them. And then elsewhere, Neil's getting across the idea that a proper hero is somebody who does a great thing like lands a crippled airplane or solves a mystery or cures a disease, that sort of thing, rather than sports stars or movie stars."

Comments: 15

  • Maxb from CaA little over a year since Neil has passed, I can hear him speak the lyrics to this song and it chokes me up. We all need to be tolerant of others and realize life is very fragile. Though I know Neil wouldn't consider himself a hero, to many of us he was. Do yourself a favor and read some (if not all) of his books. RIP Professor.
  • James from NzI don't understand how people could find the lyrics controversial. Perhaps that's just a sign of homophobia in 1990s North America?
    Empathy? Sadness? Compassion? How can you not feel those for someone who died of AIDS? It's much harder to understand how someone could feel hate or anger towards someone who slowly dies, merely because of their sexuality.
  • Chris from PennsylvaniaI think if people leave a group like Rush because one song is too controversial for their fragile sensibilities, they probably weren't true fans of Rush in the first place. I've been a life-long fan (been listening since...okay, since 1977...I was 10) and I've always thought Neil's lyrics were sometimes out there, sometimes fanciful, but they were always poignant and well thought out. Heck, all I have to to do is look at my kids, now, and the line, "...summer's going fast, night's growing colder...children growing up, old friends growing older..." will slip into my mind. It's that kind of an impact this music, and this band, and these lyrics have had on a lot of people.
  • Ahmed from Edinburgh, United KingdomQuite surprised to hear of people leaving Rush purely due to this song. I must say that being a Muslim Rush fan for almost 25 years, I found this song to be a real inspiration, by emphasising the human aspect, Nobody's Hero genuinely educated me on viewing homosexuality with more compassion.
  • Pryce from Litchfield, NhSo you're saying this song is about homosexuality. Well it's not what i think of when i think of Rush but i respect this song.
  • Eric from Bend, OrI never thought about this song being so polarizing. I never thought about people turning away from Rush after this song, and that's sad - Rush is a great band with a good message. Many of their songs (including this one) talk about peace and tolerance and understanding. Examples include "Closer to the Heart", "Witch Hunt", and then there's this one (I may be leaving out others).
  • Eric from Bend, OrThis is a great song. I like that Rush was able to write a song like this and not be afraid of what people think. I think the whole Counterparts album is great, too - one of Rush's best.
  • John from Asheville, NcIt's mentioned before that this song is polarizing on Rush boards and that's true. The key criticisms revolve around the lyrics, which I've heard described as dumb...and "gay" (opening lines) and all other sorts of things. I think the words are extremely well done fact, one of Neil's best overall efforts. I find a lot of compassion and empathy, surrounded by an infectious and memorable melody. I'm not sure what more you can ask for in a song, quite honestly. It's both uplifting and sad....that the real heroes out there are the ones doing the quiet living and dying...not the ones slathered in the press. It's both melancholy and triumphant...and that's quite a fine line to walk.
  • John from Louisville, KyThis is a great song!....a lot of good comments here. People who turned away from RUSH after this
    song probably never read RUSH lyrics anyway and never appreciated how insightful & philisophical Peart is. As Peart says...the homosexuality issue is only a small part of this song's message. It's also about inspiring people because it's noble and shows how great the human spirit is...not because you're going to be recognized for your actions.
  • Adrian from Monterrey, MexicoThis song is great. Really powerful.
  • Brendan from Easton, CtYeah, really, it is a very intelligent song. One has to look past the immediate shock of what they are saying. I agree with Robert from Arlington. Actually, it's amazing that Rush fans would so easily abandon ship after all the years of changes and controversial songs. Here is a question- if a person can stomach the message of The Trees, why not this?
  • Robert from Arlington, VaIt's frustrating to read on many Rush forums about how negatively polarizing this song has become. Their are legions of former Rush fans out there who are proud to tell you that they stopped listening to the band after they recorded this song. Thanks Mike from Moutlake Terrace, Washington for posting Neil's quote. Hopefully, this song will continue to cause people to look at the differences in mankind as simply differences and not negatives.
  • Jonathan from Philadelphia, PaWriting a song of this nature ahead of its time is always a plus
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesI love the way that, despite boasting quite an upbeat tone, the song actually has a touch of pensive sadness about it... Good stuff!
  • Taylor from Riceville, TnThe boy in this song is one of Neil's friends he worked with while he was in London in 1971. Then after Neil moved back he had heard that his friend had died.

    - Taylor Hixson
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