Tom Sawyer (song)

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"Tom Sawyer"
Single by Rush
from the album Moving Pictures
B-side "Witch Hunt" (USA)
"A Passage to Bangkok" (UK)
Released February 28, 1981
Format 7"
Recorded October - November 1980 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 4:33
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, Pye Dubois
Producer(s) Rush and Terry Brown
Rush singles chronology
"Entre Nous"
"Tom Sawyer"

"Vital Signs"

"Tom Sawyer" (Live)

"Closer to the Heart" (Live)
Moving Pictures track listing
Beginning of Album "Tom Sawyer"
"Red Barchetta"
Exit...Stage Left track listing
"Tom Sawyer"
"La Villa Strangiato"
Music sample
"Tom Sawyer" from Moving Pictures.

Tom Sawyer is a song by Canadian rock band Rush, named after Mark Twain's literary character. The song was released on Mercury Records and PolyGram in 1981 on the Moving Pictures album and numerous compilations thereafter, such as 1990's Chronicles. It has also appeared on several live albums and bootlegs. 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 band's "defining piece of music...from the early '80s".[1] It is one of Rush's best-known songs and is a staple of classic rock radio. It reached #25 in the UK Singles chart in October 1981[2] and in the US peaked at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #8 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart.[3] In 2009 it was named the 19th-greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[4] "Tom Sawyer" was one of five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010.[5]


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. Peart was presented with a poem by Dubois named "Louis the Lawyer" (often cited as "Louis the Warrior")[6] that he modified and expanded. Lee and Lifeson then helped set the poem to music. The unique growling sound heard in the song came from Lee's fiddling with his Oberheim OB-X synthesizer.[7][8]

In the December 1985 Rush Backstage Club newsletter, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart said:

Alex Lifeson describes his guitar solo in "Tom Sawyer" in a 2007 interview:

"Tom Sawyer" begins in 4/4 before switching to 7/8 in the instrumental section. When the instrumental section ends, it returns to 4/4 before changing again to 7/8 for the outro.

In popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

In television[edit]

In video games[edit]

  • The song was released as a downloadable bonus track for Rocksmith on November 13, 2012.
  • A cover version of the song was featured in 2007's Rock Band, with the original released as DLC later.


(Alphabetized by artist)

Other uses[edit]

  • "Pass The Mic, Tom: Beastie Boys vs. Rush" by Melody Lanes - a mashup of the Beastie Boys' "Pass The Mic" and Rush's "Tom Sawyer"
  • "All Night" - a song by Mike Shinoda featuring Styles of Beyond from his mixtape We Major features the music of Tom Sawyer
  • All-Pro Football 2K8 has the song in its soundtrack,
  • Some of the Live performances starts with a short opening sequence with characters from the American TV show South Park. The sequence shows Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny trying play the intro to Tom Sawyer as Lil' Rush, which ends up with Cartman getting the opening lyrics wrong and Kyle forcing Cartman to start again, as the boys just about to start the song again the sequence ends and Rush starts playing Tom Sawyer.[23]
  • Until late 2012, The Toucher and Rich Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston used the song (with alternate lyrics) as the intro to their final segment, You Listened, Now Discuss.
  • On his 2013 tour, Kid Rock used the instrumental version of Tom Sawyer as the beat for his song "Forever."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rush Press Conference in Puerto Rico, April 9, 2008
  2. ^ UK Charts 1981, accessed July 17, 2008
  3. ^ "Rush > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved December 27, 2009 (2009-12-27).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ " music". Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ Infantry, Ashante (2010-01-20). "(News) New home a place to sing praises of our songwriters". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  6. ^ Popoff, Martin. Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away. ECW Press. ISBN 1-55022-678-9. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Joe Bosso (July 2007). "Vital Signs". Guitar World. 
  10. ^ Halloween Soundtrack on Amazon, accessed July 18, 2008
  11. ^ The Waterboy Soundtrack on Amazon, accessed July 18, 2008
  12. ^
  13. ^ Chuck Soundtrack on IMDb
  14. ^ Rush to Perform for the First Time on U.S. Television in Over 30 Years on 'The Colbert Report', PR Newswire, July 15, 2008
  15. ^ Rush in television Power Windows Website Accessed July 18, 2008
  16. ^ "Deadsy - Tom Sawyer". 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Mindless Self Indulgence - Tom Sawyer". 
  20. ^ List of Cover Albums on Power Windows, accessed July 18, 2008 Archived July 16, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Subdivisions on Amazon, accessed July 18, 2008
  22. ^ "Small Soldiers soundtrack listing". IMDB. 
  23. ^

External links[edit]