My Effin’ Life, the long-awaited memoir by Geddy Lee, was released this week, and Rush fans crowded the Met on Broad Street to hear him read aloud from his new book. It’s not his first; his Big Beautiful Book of Bass was published in 2018 as an ode to his beloved instrument and his fellow players. This memoir was a different undertaking, though, and throughout last night’s conversation he revealed why opening certain mental lockboxes and documenting their contents was challenging at times.
“I had gotten very good at compartmentalizing all of the crap of my life,” he said on stage, “and when you start examining your life to the degree that you do when you’re putting a memoir together, especially if you’re even this much honest with yourself, you start unlocking those compartments, and they do come out and you have to face them. But for me, that was a good thing.”
The new book encapsulates the humor and heartbreak that Lee has experienced along his journey. As one third of Canada’s biggest prog-rock export, he experienced all the splendor that comes with the rockstar lifestyle. Through all that, though, he struggled with his identity, distance from his family during long stretches of tour, and later in life, keeping the tragic secret that his bandmate and dear friend Neil Peart was terminally ill. At Peart’s request, both Lee and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson kept the diagnosis quiet until after he had passed.
“It was really hard,” he commented, “and it’s unnatural, of course. But that’s what he wanted, and he was fierce about people not finding out. You have to make a choice: honesty or loyalty, and I chose loyalty.”
Despite the heavy reflections, Lee made it clear that chronicling his life on paper put him on a path of healing. It also helped him reclaim joy in one of the things he loves the most: “I finally feel I’m at the point where I can embrace music again.”
The first half of the evening was an insightful conversation hosted by director and producer Brian Koppelman. Geddy Lee read a couple of excerpts from his book, which all attendees got to take home a copy of. They were also shown the trailer for his quirky Paramount+ series Are Bass Players Human Too?
The event wrapped with a fan Q&A hosted by WMMR’s Pierre Robert, and the topics ranged from musical memories to Lee’s affinity for birds. Here’s what we learned when he answered your burning questions.