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Tom Sawyer ~ Rush

rush-150Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968 in the Willowdale neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee; guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Lifeson; and drummer, percussionist, and lyricist Neil Peart. The band and its membership went through several reconfigurations between 1968 and 1974, achieving its current lineup when Peart replaced original drummer John Rutsey in July 1974, two weeks before the group’s first United States tour.

Rush is known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, history, and philosophy. The band’s musical style has changed several times over the years, from a blues-inspired hard rock beginning, later moving intoprogressive rock, and including a period marked by heavy use of synthesizers. In the early 1990s, Rush returned to a guitar-driven hard rock sound, which has continued to the present. The band’s latest studio album, Clockwork Angels (2012) won the Album Of The Year Award from Progressive Music Awards. The supporting tour ran from September 2012 to August 2013.

According to the RIAA Rush ranks 80th with sales of 25 million units in the U.S. Although total worldwide album sales are not calculated by any single entity, several industry sources estimated Rush’s total worldwide album sales at over 40 million units as of 2004. The group has been awarded 24 gold, 14 platinum, and 3 multi-platinum albums.

Rush has received seven Grammy award nominations, but have not won the award. The band has won several Juno Awards, was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Over their careers, the members of Rush have been acknowledged as some of the most proficient players on their respective instruments, with each band member winning numerous awards in magazine readers’ polls. Rush plans to stop large-scale touring at the end of 2015, although they have not ruled out the possibility of future studio albums and smaller-scale tours.

On December 7, 2015, drummer Neil Peart announced that he had retired from drumming due to chronic tendinitis.  Guitarist Alex Lifeson is also dealing with psoriatic arthritis.

Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer is a song by Canadian rock band Rush, originally released on their 1981 album Moving Pictures as its opener. The song relies heavily on Geddy Lee’s synthesizer playing and Neil Peart’s drumming. 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 a staple of both classic rock radio and Rush’s live performances, having been played on every concert tour since its release. It peaked at #25 on the UK Singles chart in October 1981, at #44 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and at #8 on the Billboard Top Tracks 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 lyricist Pye Dubois of the band Max Webster, who also co-wrote the Rush songs “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 vacation that Rush spent at Ronnie Hawkins’ farm outside Toronto. Peart was presented with a poem by Dubois named “Louis the Lawyer” (often incorrectly cited as “Louis the Warrior”) that he modified and expanded. Lee and Lifeson then helped set the poem to music. The “growling” synthesizer sound heard in the song came from Lee experimenting with his Oberheim OB-X.

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

Tom Sawyer – Lee, Peart. Lifeson

A modern day warrior
Mean mean stride,
Today’s Tom Sawyer
Mean mean pride.

Though his mind is not for rent
Don’t put him down as arrogant
His reserve, a quiet defense
Riding out the day’s events
The river

What you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift

The world is, the world is
Love and life are deep
Maybe as his skies are wide

Today’s Tom Sawyer
He gets high on you
And the space he invades
He gets by on you

No his mind is not for rent
To any god or government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is

What you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the witness, catch the wit
Catch the spirit, catch the spit

The world is, the world is
Love and life are deep
Maybe as his eyes are wide

Exit the warrior
Today’s Tom Sawyer
He gets high on you
And the energy you trade
He gets right on to the friction of the day

  • Audio from the 1981 album, Moving Pictures:

moving-pictures-170

Play SONG Tom Sawyer - by ARTIST

In Popular Culture

In film

  • Fanboys (also featuring “Limelight”)
  • Halloween (2007 remake)
  • I Love You, Man (also featuring “Limelight”)
  • Small Soldiers
  • The Waterboy
  • Ari Gold’s Adventures of Power

In television

  • Chuck,  episode “Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer”.
  • 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.
  • In part two of The Sopranos season 6, Tony Soprano listens to the song in the episode “Walk Like a Man”.
  • Trailer Park Boys
  • Season 2 premiere of the television show Revolution
  • “Togetherness” Episode 3 Closing scene
  • In Archer, Dr. Krieger is seen air drumming to Neil Peart’s solo while modifying  Archer’s weapons.

In video games

  • 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.

One thought on “Tom Sawyer ~ Rush”

  1. Yeah,

    Rush……

    Can I request another Rush song Deej???

    Either Time Stand Still or Superconductor

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