By-Tor And The Snow Dog
by Rush

Album: Fly By Night (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • Rush's road manager Howard Ungerleider came up with the title at a party. There were two dogs at the party, one a German shepherd and the other a tiny white nervous dog. Howard used to call the shepherd By-Tor because anyone that walked into the house was bitten. The other dog was a snow-dog (white). So from that night on Howard called the pair of dogs "By-Tor and the Snow Dog." The dogs belonged to Rush's manager.
  • The song is divided into 4 chapters: I) At the Tobes of Hades, II) Across the Styx, III) Of the Battle, IV) Epilogue. Chapter 3 (Of the Battle) is divided into 4 chapters in and of itself: i) Challenge and Defiance, ii) 7/4 War Furor, iii) Aftermath, iv) Hymn of Triumph. Total running time, according to the label, is only 8:37.
  • On the back cover of the album Alex Lifeson is identified as "Snow Dog", and Geddy Lee is identified as "By-Tor".
  • The character By-Tor returned on the following release, "Caress of Steel." In that song, By-Tor was the victor in the battle. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeff - Haltom City, TX, for all above
  • This was the first Rush album with Neil Peart, their drummer and lyricist who became an integral part of the group.
  • There is a video created for the Vapor Trails tour that played on screen behind stage. This is also a hidden feature on the Rush In Rio DVD (Easter egg) accessible on the second disc (Boys in Brazil). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
  • Section III was originally called "The Battle."
  • On the original vinyl album, the chimes at the end were printed into the fadeout groove of side one. On older turntables, until the stylus was physically lifted from the vinyl, the chimes would keep playing. On the Archives version, the song is 28 seconds longer as additional chimes were included. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 2
  • This song borrows elements from Yes' "The Gates of Delirium." Rush has cited Yes as an influence.

Comments: 16

  • Mikey from Oregon Oh Does anyone (truly) know how they recorded/sampled the growling sounds of "By-Tor"...My guess is Alex went to a Pork Slaughterhouse and recorded them unloading the Hog trucks using cattle prods...The sound of By-Tor is a Hog or perhaps a wild boar.
  • Chris from PudseyMy vinyl copy of Archives (UK original pressing) does not have a longer version of the chimes at the end of side one, it is identical to the Fly By Night version :-(
  • Mark from NjThe 3 travelers remind me of the Lord of the Rings since the allude to The Necromancer. Sauron played that role in Tolkiens novels. Also, Rivendell is a close resemblance to the home of Galadrial, Queen of the Elves. "Eleven songs and endless nights, sweet wine and soft relaxing lights, time will never touch you here in this enchanted place......" Beautifully written.
  • Alden from Canton, GaYou can debate forever on what the meaning is. But one things is for sure- its a great song!
  • Ken from West Deptford, NjHi Shana,

    On the album "Caress Of Steel" there is a track titled "The Necromancer" who in turn in pure evil. Part III of the The Necromancer is titled "Return of the Prince" who is in fact By-Tor. "Stealthily attacking, By-Tor slays his foe. The men are free to run now, from labrarinths below. The fate of the Necromancer, shadows to the sky, another land to darken with evil prism eye".

    By-Tor appears to free the three travelers (Alex, Neil and Geddy) from the Nectomancer's evil clutches.
  • John from Asheville, NcI've grown to like this song a LOT more than I originally did...due mostly to the really cool musical breakdown around the solo. While it's still far from a favorite of mine, I've definitely gained an appreciation for it.
  • Sg Milkman from Dfw, TxThere's a fantastic, if brief, drum solo toward the middle that has a truly flawless snare drum roll crescendo. Gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
  • Pete from Cincinnati, OhGeddy is described as By-tor, and Alex is Snow dog, because during the "battle" instrumental it is the growling bass lines versus the screaming high pitched guitar lines. Low being evil(By-tor) versus high being good(Snow dog). Of course there's the backing track, if you listen real close you here it during the first several bars of this section
  • Kent Lyle from Cincinnati, OhThere is one potential problem with Jesse's storyline, in that Geddy was not an original member of Rush. Jeff Jones was, although he was quickly kicked out for not making gigs. They actually had the habit of borrowing Lee's amplifiers for venues before he was invited to join the band. Lee even left (or was encouraged to leave) Rush briefly during their early years, during which time they temporarily changed their name to Hadrian for no good reason. Those crazy formative years.
  • Jesse from Halifax, CanadaIm Not 100% Certain, but Im fairly confident in this fact. Im pretty sure this song was written because when Rush first started, both alex and geddy wanted to play guitar, but they needed a bass player, and since Alex could play 'better' solos, he was voted in as the guitarist, Thus, Snow Dog Being victorious. God I love rush...
  • Jordon from Farmer City, IlDerek from CT-
    that is soooo awesome! im play bass in a band, and we were inspired by 2112 to write one of our songs, "A Glimpse (of colour)"
  • Steve from Farmington, NyThe Tobes of Hades, lit by flickering torchlight
    The netherworld is gathered in the glare
    Prince By-Tor takes the cavern to the north light
    The sign of Eth is rising in the air.
    By-Tor, knight of darkness,
    Centurion of evil, devil's prince.

    Here's the "Prince By-Tor" bit...it's the first section of the song.
  • Jesse from L.a., CaBy-tor makes an appearance, as a GOOD GUY, on Carress of Steel. Listen to "The Necromancer"...
  • Nardo from Toronto, CanadaWhen Alex says By-Tor during "The Boys in Brazil" Documentary, press the enter key on your DVD's remote control. The movie plays then afterwards
    it'll take you right back to the same part in the documentary where you left off from.

  • Derek from Monroe, CtI love By-Tor. this song has inspired me to write a 20-minute song "Battle of the Ages" for my concept album where the Rock God (the past) and the Rap God (the future) battle to the death. It'll be awesome. Thanks Rush.
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaWhy does it say Prince By-Tor? lol a great song though...cool beat, really catchy
see more comments

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