Rush 101 Final Exam: Rand Paul, maple or oak?

Rand Paul, son of former libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul and some kind of great-libertarian hope in his own right, has been playing Rush songs at his campaign events and as a backing track in a campaign video. Without permission. His campaign recently received a cease and desist letter from the band’s lawyer, advising that the songs they’ve been using, Spirit of the Radio and Tom Sawyer among them, have not been licensed for that purpose.

Your assignment will be scored out of 50 points. Using the provided* lyrics to another Rush song, The Trees, explain how this song relates to current American life, as exemplified by but not confined to cultural ritual events like political campaigns. Do you think Rand Paul is a maple or an oak? What about Rush?

Also, for 10 bonus marks: Obviously, the dude’s a fan. He even quotes from Spirit of the Radio in some of his speeches in his run for the U.S. Senate: “Glittering prizes and endless compromises/shatter the illusion of integrity.” What is it that’s a little too much about using that line in a stump speech?

*also used without permission

The Trees (Lee/Lifeson/Peart)

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘Oppression!’
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

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