Tom Sawyer (4:35)

Cover of Moving Pictures

From Moving Pictures and 167 other releases

“Tom Sawyer” is a 1981 song by Canadian band Rush named for Mark Twain’s literary character. The song relies heavily on Geddy Lee’s synthesizer playing and the techniques of drummer Neil Peart. Geddy Lee has referred to the track as the “quintessential Rush song”; It is one of Rush’s best-known songs and is a staple of classic rock radio. Geddy Lee told The Plain Dealer newspaper the band never foresaw the success of the song: He said: “The one song that we have to play for the rest of our lives. When we wrote it, we had no idea that it would touch such a nerve with people. In many ways, it’s the quintessential Rush song.” (Source Tom Sawyer Songfacts). Notably, it reached Number 24 in the UK singles chart in May 1981 as a follow-up to their breakthrough hit “The Spirit of Radio”.

Origin

The song was written by Lee, Peart, and guitarist Alex Lifeson in collaboration with Canadian lyricist Pye Dubois (the lyricist of Max Webster), who also co-wrote other Rush songs such as “Force Ten,” “Between Sun and Moon,” and “Test For Echo.” According to the US radio show In the Studio with Redbeard (which devoted an entire episode to the making of Moving Pictures), “Tom Sawyer” came about during a summer rehearsal holiday that Rush spent at Ronnie Hawkins’ farm outside Toronto.

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