It’s fitting of course that author Salman Rushdie is coming to Ottawa on May 5 to pay tribute to filmmaker Deepa Mehta, since they worked closely on Mehta’s adaptation of Rushie’s novel Midnight’s Children, an anxiously awaited movie slated to be shown at film festivals later this year.
But how much more intriguing it would have been if Rushdie was attending this year’s edition of the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts, not to talk about Mehta, but about her fellow honourees that evening—the enduring rock band Rush.
This is not such a crazy fantasy: Rushdie wrote a rock novel, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and has opined that rock is the “music of freedom.” Knowledgable Rushdie fans might, however, protest that his tastes don’t run in Rush’s direction. He gave U2 the lyrics for “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” a decidedly un-Rush-like last-dance number. And his Desert Island Discs include Elvis, the Stones, and Country Joe and the Fish. Still, he once co-headlined with Dredg, a prog-rock band that must have some Rush in their DNA.
And here’s how The Ground Beneath Her Feet (the novel, not the song) was described in Maclean’s back in 1999: “The sprawling plot of The Ground Beneath Her Feet mixes mysticism, the netherworld, rock music and forays into a parallel universe, in language that is extravagant, pun-filled and exuberant. It draws from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the doomed musical sorcerer and his lost lover.”
Now doesn’t that sound like the premise for a Rush album, or perhaps a trilogy?