Tom Sawyer (song)
|Single by Rush|
|from the album Moving Pictures|
|B-side||"Witch Hunt" (USA)
"A Passage to Bangkok" (UK)
|Released||February 28, 1981|
|Recorded||October - November 1980 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec|
|Genre||Progressive rock, hard rock|
|Writer(s)||Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, Pye Dubois|
|Producer(s)||Rush and Terry Brown|
|Rush singles chronology|
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". 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 and in the US peaked at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #8 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. In 2009 it was named the 19th-greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. "Tom Sawyer" was one of five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010.
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") 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.
In the December 1985 Rush Backstage Club newsletter, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart said:
|“||Tom Sawyer was a collaboration between myself and Pye Dubois, an excellent lyricist who wrote the lyrics for Max Webster. His original lyrics were kind of a portrait of a modern day rebel, a free-spirited individualist striding through the world wide-eyed and purposeful. I added the themes of reconciling the boy and man in myself, and the difference between what people are and what others perceive them to be - namely me I guess.||”|
Alex Lifeson describes his guitar solo in "Tom Sawyer" in a 2007 interview:
|“||I winged it. Honest! I came in, did five takes, then went off and had a cigarette. I'm at my best for the first two takes; after that, I overthink everything and I lose the spark. Actually, the solo you hear is composed together from various takes.||”|
"Tom Sawyer" begins in 4/4 before switching to 7/8 and 13/16 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
- Fanboys (also featuring, "Limelight")
- Rob Zombie's reimagining of Halloween
- I Love You, Man (also featuring, "Limelight")
- Small Soldiers
- Adam Sandler's The Waterboy
- Ari Gold's Adventures of Power
- The band performed the song during an airing of The Colbert Report on July 16, 2008, in their first American television appearance in 33 years.
- Everybody Hates Chris
- Family Guy (plays as Chester The Cheetos Cheetah snorts Cheetos dust as if it were cocaine)
- Freaks and Geeks
- Fringe episode, "The Man from the Other Side"
- In the Futurama episode Anthology of Interest II, the song plays as Fry fights off an alien invasion using a control system identical to the game Space Invaders.
- The Hard Times of RJ Berger
- Imus In The Morning
- This song replaced the original MacGyver theme in its original airing in Brazil.
- Regular Show
- The Sopranos episode, "Walk Like a Man"
- Trailer Park Boys
- Season 2 premiere of the television show Revolution
In video games
- The song was released as a downloadable bonus track for Rocksmith on November 13th, 2012.
- A cover version of the song was featured in 2007's Rock Band, with the original released as DLC later.
(Alphabetized by artist)
- The main synthesizer riff is incorporated into the breakdown of the song "Pool Party!" by The Aquabats, from their 2000 album Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2
- The Bad Plus from the 2007 album Prog
- Briefly featured in "Grade 9" by Barenaked Ladies along with a brief cover of the intro riff from The Spirit of Radio.
- Heavy metal, synth rock band Deadsy from the 2002 album Commencement
- Imagine Dragons cover the song on their Into the Night tour. 
- Canadian gypsy jazz band The Lost Fingers on their album Gypsy Kameloneon
- punk, electronica band Mindless Self Indulgence from their 2005 album You'll Rebel to Anything
- The band Rage from the 1998 album XIII
- Run for Cover
- Sebastian Bach
- Umphrey's McGee
- Sampled by the Young Black Teenagers on their 1994 recording "Time To Make The Dough Nutz"
- DJ Z-Trip remix on Small Soldiers
- Alex Skolnick Trio on the 2007 album Last Day in Paradise
- "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.
- 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."
- Rush Press Conference in Puerto Rico, April 9, 2008
- UK Charts 1981, accessed July 17, 2008
- "Rush > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
- "spreadit.org music". Retrieved February 7, 2009.
- Infantry, Ashante (2010-01-20). "(News) New home a place to sing praises of our songwriters". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
- Popoff, Martin. Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away. ECW Press. ISBN 1-55022-678-9.
- Joe Bosso (July 2007). "Vital Signs". Guitar World.
- Halloween Soundtrack on Amazon, accessed July 18, 2008
- The Waterboy Soundtrack on Amazon, accessed July 18, 2008
- Chuck Soundtrack on IMDb
- Rush to Perform for the First Time on U.S. Television in Over 30 Years on 'The Colbert Report', PR Newswire, July 15, 2008
- Rush in television Power Windows Website Accessed July 18, 2008
- "Deadsy - Tom Sawyer". last.fm.
- "Mindless Self Indulgence - Tom Sawyer". last.fm.
- List of Cover Albums on Power Windows, accessed July 18, 2008 Archived July 16, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Subdivisions on Amazon, accessed July 18, 2008
- "Small Soldiers soundtrack listing". IMDB.