Tom Sawyer
by Rush

Album: Moving Pictures (1981)
Charted: 25 44


  • The lyrics are loosely based on a character Mark Twain created in his first novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The book was published 1876.
  • In Twain's book, Tom finds his way into different sorts of adventurous mishaps. Throughout the novel, Tom matures and experiences many rites of passage. Due to cultural and social changes, some public school copies have been edited, removing certain parts that were deemed offensive.
  • Pye Dubois, who is the lyricist for the band Max Webster, collaborated on this song as well as "Force Ten" and "Between Sun And Moon." This song began life as a Max Webster song titled "Louis The Warrior."
  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for all above
  • During the first instrumental section of this song, the time signature changes to 7/8. The unusual choice in time signature is consistent with other songs by Rush, such as "Limelight," "The Trees," "Distant Early Warning," and "Freewill," among others. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Zach - Horn Lake, MS
  • This song was used in an episode of Cartoon Network's Futurama when Fry (the main character) plays a video game while listening to his "All Rush Mixtape." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    James - Miami, FL
  • This was a key plot element in the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer" (2008). When Chuck, an undercover CIA asset with a top secret supercomputer in his brain, discovers that the Atari game Missile Command holds the secret codes to satellite missiles in its kill screen, he must beat a terrorist to the codes to prevent World War III. Chuck finds a secret weapon in the Rush tune, which matches the same underlying mathematical pattern of the game and helps him reach the kill screen.

    The song was also used in these TV shows:

    City On A Hill ("The Night Flynn Sent The Cops On The Ice" - 2019)
    Togetherness ("Insanity" - 2015)
    Fringe ("The Man From The Other Side" - 2010)
    The Sopranos ("Walk Like A Man" - 2007)
    Family Guy ("Chick Cancer" - 2006)
    Freaks And Geeks ("Smooching And Mooching" - 2000)

    And in these movies:

    Little Evil (2017)
    The Infiltrator (2016)
    I Love You, Man (2009)
    Halloween (2007)
    The Waterboy (1998)
  • The band chose this song as their concert opener for their 2002 Vapor Trails tour, something they had never done before. After all the trauma and tough times endured by the personal loses of Neil Peart (wife and daughter dying within a year of each other) and the possibility of the band being done for, they believed "Tom Sawyer" would send the message that they were back to stay. They usually introduced the song with a 1 to 4 count, but for Vapor Trails, there was no count, at least not in the usual sense. Peart gave the signal: he simply closed his Hi Hat cymbal pedal with his foot, and this gave the band the signal to silently count the start of the song. This can be seen in the Rush In Rio DVD - before the concert starts you hear a muted cymbal sound that starts the count. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sebastian - Miami, FL
  • In a Family Guy clip, Chester Cheetah is seen snorting Cheetos while listening to this song. After he finishes, he yells, "There is no f--king drummer better than Neil Peart!" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Sunrise, FL
  • In 2008, Rush performed this on The Colbert Report, making a rare US television appearance. Before the performance, host Stephen Colbert interviewed the band and asked if some of their songs were so long that they actually influenced themselves by the end of them. The "Rush plays long songs" bit became a joke on the show, and when Rush played "Tom Sawyer," Colbert acted like he had to go to commercial because they were going to keep playing. When they came back from commercial, Rush was still playing the song. The next night, the show opened with Colbert asleep at his desk while Rush was still playing. While Rush does have some epics, this is actually one of their shorter songs, clocking in at a mere 4:33.
  • Artists to cover this song include The String Cheese Incident, Deadsy and Mindless Self Indulgence. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Amanda - Amawalk, NY
  • On their 2006 tour, just before Rush played this song, the jumbotron above the stage played an animated short in which the four boys of South Park try to play this song, only to argue and get the lyrics wrong. After the short was complete, the band would come out and play the song the way it was meant to be played. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alec Thorp - Yorktown Heights, NY
  • Frontman Geddy Lee said the band hated this classic track when they first recorded it. He explained: "I remember being disappointed in the studio, thinking we really didn't capture the spirit of the song. We thought it was the worst song on the record at the time – but it all came together in the mix. Sometimes you don't have the objectivity to know when you're doing your best work."
  • 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."
  • On their 2007 Snakes & Arrows tour, Rush played a video leading into this song showing the characters from South Park rehearsing it with their band Lil' Rush. When Cartman makes up lyrics to the song ("Modern day warrior today's Tom Sawyer, floated down the river on a raft with a black guy"), Kyle interrupts him, informing him that he's recalling the plot of Huckleberry Finn, not Tom Sawyer. The video was made specifically for Rush and was not broadcast.
  • This song was featured in the Rush episode of Trailer Park Boys (fifth episode of Season 3). According to Chris Irwin in Martin Popoff's Rush: Album by Album, it was Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson who approached the Trailer Park Boys' Mike Clattenburg about being in an episode. Lifeson and the rest of Rush had become hooked to the show after watching it while setting up and breaking down before and after their performances on the Vapor Trails tour. The episode is titled "Closer to the Heart."

Comments: 134

  • Ray from Southern CaliforniaYou have one word wrong.

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

    It's not He gets by on you. It is "He gets high on you."
  • Tim from Tempe, AzI found a couple of errors in the lyrics. "He reserves the quiet defense" is actually "His reserve, a quiet defense". And the first time it says "He gets by on you" should be "He gets high on you".
  • Tommy from Monroe N.cThings that geddy Lee's voice sounds like:
    1. People on a rollercoaster
    2. Paul Mcartney getting George Harrisons guitar shoved up his ass
    3. A hamster going into warp space
    4. A hamster jumping off a building
    5. Mickey Mouse on helium
    6. A siren malfunctioning
    7. That high pitched dental machine
    8. A drunk Guinea pig with a megaphone
    9. Mickey Mouse jumping off a bridge
    10. A chihuahua being neutered by a serving fork
  • Dave from Callee-forniaResponding to: "In at least two interviews published online, former Journey manager Herbie Herbert claims that Rush stole the music of this song from a Journey song called "Nickel and Dime". It appeared on Journey's 1977 album, Next." ----> Herbie is confused. I just listened to Nickle and Dime, I'm not a journey fan but I do like some songs from their earlier albums before Steve Perry became vocalist. Anyway, Nickle and Dime is a nice instrumental that starts off in a kinda nonchalant way, breaking into a repetitive and peppy guitar riff, then at about the 1:04 mark it abruptly changes to .. Xanadu ! (Cheddarface got it) The momentous 2 chord with flanged guitar part. I mean it's exactly the same. Our good friends Rush must have been Journey fans
  • Terry from GeorgiaThe fifth episode of the second season (2008) of Chuck is entitled "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer." Chuck learns that the designer of the arcade game Missile Command is a fan of Rush and thinks Tom Sawyer is the best expression of the music of the universe. The game designer also hid actual missile codes in the arcade game. In order to retrieve the codes, Chuck must complete the video game, which he is able to do by listening to Tom Sawyer as he plays the game.
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaThis is my second favourite Rush song, after Free Will.
  • Cheddarface from Las VegasThe Futurama episode actually makes a good joke with the use of the song, as well. The premise of the episode is a "what-if" scenario in which the world is attacked by video game aliens (basically the plot of Pixels but 15 years earlier and better). Fry is the only one who can stop them, and says the line "All right. It's Saturday night. I have no date. I've got a 2 liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mixtape. Let's rock." Cut to Fry playing a real-life version of Space Invaders, listening to Tom Sawyer, specifically the line "He gets high on you, and the space he invades he gets by on you," making a pun on Space Invaders with the lyrics of the song. It's hard to catch, but it's hard to believe it's unintentional.
  • Ylandrum from Usa@Steve: Journey's Nickle and Dime sounds a lot more like Xanadu to me than it does Tom Sawyer.
  • Mike from CaliWow, I know this is an open ended discussion but it's still odd with no date notifications. Lol but anyways. Like some were saying the best drummer of what? All I know is if everybody was to meet to discuss thered be fist-a-cuffs a flyin. But what I think makes a good drummer great let alone they're God given talents is the ability to be set aside from the mass and recognizable by name. And all the above mentioned are all true of that. Even non mentioned you can call out just by hearing them like Alex Van Halen, Stewart Copeland, Tommy Lee. There's the ones that just beat the living crap out of skins like Rich, Pearl, Bonham oh and don't forget Joey from Slip, my God Wow. Then there's guys that take it and jus bend the Fkkk out of it on purpose like Danny Carey and Nick Mason. Carey, frickin amazing along side Maynard. Takes awhile to adjust to jus play guitar or drums. Oh and Herbie Hancock. Soft clap. But there's also ones that just don't leave they're talent to just drums. Phil Collins and Dave Grohl. Amazing musicians period. Not sure why so many dislike Grohl. In my mind everytime I hear something bout the guy, his name may appear on ballot come election time. No lie, lol ok the I never learned how to read music is jus Dave being Dave. Of course he knows how, he was just never taught it is what he's stating. What was the last story, I think Cory was saying Dave came to the band and said hey I really want to add piano to this song and nobody knew how including Dave, and they were all laughing the next when there was Dave playing the piano. When asked, Dave just said I just thought well how fkkkn hard could to play? Smh Dave tell that to the little Asian kid that has fingers that look like pretzels and arthritis for rest of his life cause of his parents. I mean I wasn't supposed, I mean the guy after the death of Kurt was fiddling around at home writing and playing every instrument put together a whole F in album or Cd I should say and being the funny man he is called it the Foo Fighters as Dave likes to say, what the Fkkk kinda name is that? Shakes his head. He never thought it would stick so he went out and got a band. Lol The funniest is listening to music after listening Dave and all others mentioned how clean the shyt is. I mean really a huge difference. Another thing is if you listen to the Foo and they're list of hits. Either half or 3/4's of every song Dave is screaming, I mean rock like. And every one of these songs are mainstream, all airwaves. Only one person I can actually think of is Chris Cornell but in no way mainstream. Smh at aerosmith.
    But anyways don't know exactly what I accomplished here but hey also if you've never heard bout Meytal Cohen. She's a sexy gorgeous sweetheart of a gurl that I guess most would call a recreational drummer. But don't know too many that can play the links she covers as clean as she does always with the sexiest smirk and smile and not a drip of sweat. U really need to take a look c. Won't regret it. Swear. U all b ez e!
  • Anthony from Richmond, VaOne of my favorite songs by Rush, every time it comes on the radio I can't help but sing along.
  • Dustin from Nashville, Tn@Sebastian - Miami, FL

    It really drives me nuts when people post something authoritatively but is a complete and horrible inaccuracy:

    Tom Sawyer was used as the show opener on the Vapor Trails tour sure enough but it was preceded by the band's on and off long time use of the Three Stooges Theme (aka "Three Blind Mice") complete with a parodied version of the Three Stooges title screen image on video behind the stage featuring the band instead of the original stoogies. They would break into the song immediately following the last note of the intro music. There was no "silent count" or other BS

    The Rush in Rio DVD and CD do not feature this intro music but it was played in RIO as well, as it was the entire tour. It was cut from the final mix because of its near inaudibility due to the loudness of the RIO crowd.

    The only minor thing that was correctly mentioned was the use of the hi-hat by Peart to signal that, regardless of their inability to hear the intro recording, it was immediately time to start the song. The drums are mixed into the in-ear monitors with much more volume than the intro/background and sound effects from the band's video screen recordings.

    Leave conjecture out of it!
  • Drake from Huntington Beach, CaListening to the song a couple of times makes me think of two meanings of the lyrics. Besides Mark Twains fictional character, Tom Swayer could also be a nickname for the media. Descriptions in the lyrics could relate to this like, "Today's Tom Swayer get eye on you, and the space he invades he gets by on you." It describes the media like the newspaper in,"Always hope for your discontent, thoughts changes are permanent." and "Maybe as his eyes are white."
  • Chris from Corning, NyNickster: I believe at one time Neil Peart explained that the line simply refers to an incident in the Twain novel where Tom is spitting into his palm and shaking hands to seal a deal. (Google about this custom, if you don't believe it.) It was meant to show trust and good faith, kind of like sealing in blood, but milder. Not that your interpretation doesn't make sense and Peart could've meant that, too, but I never saw/heard him say so.
  • Steve from Torrance, CaIn at least two interviews published online, former Journey manager Herbie Herbert claims that Rush stole the music of this song from a Journey song called "Nickel and Dime". It appeared on Journey's 1977 album, Next.
  • Robert from Las Vegas, NvYour right Nickster, makes total sense. And I just listened to the Rush in Rio cd too Rufus and your right what an amazing audience! Guess they are just not use to such an awesome band playing for them live. We Americans probably take it for granted. Karen thats great you like em so much because my wife says she can only stand a few songs and Tom Sawyer is one of them. But she understands how good they are. I mean playing for longer than Ive been alive is achievement enough :)
  • Nickster from Minneapolis, MnEric, I think "catch the spit" means that when people spit on you, you're strong enough to just take it.
  • John Parker from Grayson, GeorgiaTom Sawyer and Rush are very much featured in the movie, "I Love You, Man".
  • Dusty from St. Louis, MoThe reason the dots are there is so that when he goes to the keyboard, he knows where he is. He has to go to the keyboard very quickly, so the dots help him know where he is. :)
  • Rufus from Wheeling, WvThe drum fill after the guitar solo, especially on Exit. . .Stage Left, is amazing. And the crowd from the Rush in Rio CD/DVD. . . it's as if, not only had Rush never played there before, it's like those folks had never been out of the house. What a crowd to play in front of.
  • Ivy from Springfield, NeYuck, wayyy to 80s sounding. Oh, I remember that Family Guy! Oh my god, that was HILARIOUS!
  • Kenzi from Riverside, UtJustin from Bethlehem, PA ...I can't beleive you are the only person to mention the south park intro to this song! It is the first thing that comes to my mind everytime I hear it. Not only is it hilarious but talk about getting a crowd going! I had seen this on youtube beforehand and loved it but actually being there for it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life! Amazing! Also Pearts drum solo LIVE is something everyone should see....It will definately give you an insight on how great he really is! I will be the first to buy tickets to their next show :)
  • Jim from Mburg, PaThe only reason I posted for this song was to see if anyone knows why Geddy has dots on a few of the keys on his lower keyboard while they play this song on the R30 tour. I saw the dots during the closing keyboard solo while watching it on TV. Yes, if you look closly they look like they were made with a blue marker or something - about three or four of them.
  • George from Waynesburg, KyIn the T.V show Chuck the game Missile Command is based off of this song. In order for Chuck top stop a real missile he has to play the game while listening to this song
  • Karen from Manchester, NhThere is a blogger who likes to joke that girls don't like Rush...they're a "guys' band". Well, guess what? I'm a 44-year-old woman who DOES like Rush! I'll admit that this was the song that introduced them to me, but I've been educated since, especially since I used to have a (guy) friend who was T-H-E ultimate Rush fan. I love the different time signatures.

    (Oh, to Stunner from Oz, if you don't like them, why did you look them up? It's easy enough to avoid any artist you don't care for here.)
  • Chase from Miami, FlYou know my favorite band is Led Zeppelin, but my second favorite is Rush so that proves there can be peace! And I'll bet that Jimmy Page does respect Rush.
  • Eric from Beaverton, OrStunner from Australia: That's pretty harsh. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but it's harsh to put people down for listening to a band that you don't really care for. And Rush is still going strong after more than 34 years - I think they deserve some credit and respect for that at least. I love Rush, but even if I didn't, I still think they're better than many other bands out there.
  • Matt from Houston, TxNO TALENT! neil peart could hold his own vs. john bonham and keith moon put together. oh whatever, just keep listening to your jonas brothers and paramore and shopping at hot topic and watching twilight you bendictive f**k!
  • Stunner from Australia, AustraliaRush has no talent. I can't believe you listen to them.
  • Eric from Bend, OrThis is one of my favorite rock songs ever, but one thing that bugs me about it is the line where they say "catch the spit". I'm not really sure what it means, and taken literally, it sounds a bit gross.
  • David from Broomall, PaI can agree with Danny from Des Moines (IA) - this is a forum for the song (Tom Sawyer) and, maybe as an extension, for Rush...still, given that my following comments may not be read elsewhere, I am "compelled" to contribute to the discussion of "best drummers"...I am a drummer myself (since 1973)...I have skill, but I would not put myself in league with the majority of career drummers or even other recreational drummers...still, I have read several "Who's the best drummer?" comment wars (here and in other places) about this?...can we say that each drummer offers his/her own contribution - no matter if one drummer is actually better than another...for example, personally, I think Ringo Starr, overall, was not as "fancy" as, e.g., Buddy Rich or Neil Peart (etc., etc.), but he made his contribution...and - best drummer or not - I imagine that Ringo inspired a generation of drummers who would not hesitate to acknowledge his influence upon them...and perhaps we can say the same for Peart...and Bonham...and Moon...and Rich...and (Billy) Cobham...etc....we can appreciate EACH drummer without necessarily having to compare them or put them down...(for me) even though I may hold my own opinions on "Who is a better drummer?", I prefer to consider whether I enjoy the overall "experience" - fancy drumming or not...also, a skilled drummer may not necessarily be a seasoned musician...I was in a band in the late 70's, and I was expected to drum to the Beatles' "Yesterday"...well, I actually told the group (during a small concert) that I would not play that song (because I felt that drums did not feel appropriate for the style of this song)...and realize that drummers may prefer a certain genre that may not require fancy playing...OK, it's time to get off my please try to appreciate ALL of the drummers...Thanks...P.S. Please appreciate drummers such as Thomas Lang and Dave Weckl, too...Thanks again...
  • Brandon from Manchester, United KingdomThis song is featured in the video game Rock Band
  • Trey from Kalamazoo, MtThis song should be played at the beginning of every sporting event, wedding, funeral, election announcement, convention, and intervention.
  • Ryan from Garland, TxI read/saw that Geddy's part was originally a sound check he used but they used it as a song later.
  • Alex from Melbourne, FlCW from Vancouver, that's not Jimmy Page's website: "This site is not operated or authorized by Jimmy Page who is not responsible for its content."
  • Jonathan from Varnville, ScMy dad has been a drummer for a while and he's said that Neil Peart is the only drummer that he can't figure out. He introduced me to Rush and it is a great band, one of the best I've ever heard.
  • Justin from Bethlehem, PaI'm gonn see Rush live and when they preform this song there's an awesome south park intro! You can find it on youtube.
  • Ken from Lowell, MaI find it pertinent to note that the song "Tom Sawyer" is played while Fry is playing a giant game of "Space Invaders," a reference to the portion of the song when Geddy sings "Today's Tom Sawyer/He gets high on you/And the space he invades/He gets by on you."
  • Jeffery from Myrtle Beach, ScGreat song. Amazing music from an amazing band. Oh and by the way, heather from LA you think this song is dumb because you are a dumb bimbo with no musical taste what so ever
  • Colin from Sherwood Park, Canadaisn't this song about the life of tom sawyer and that when it mentions the part "and his mind is not for rent, to any god or government" isnt it sort of about how he was a free man and lives without the constraints of society bearing down on him and he was free to do whatever he wanted
  • Matt from New Castle, NhAlthough the lyrics are incredible, I don't really understand them. It sounds to me like this song started out as an instrumental, and really most of it is. It showcases all the talents of Rush really well.
  • David from Columbus, OhI've been drumming to Rush, LZ, and The Who for about 40 years, and here's my take. Moon - awesome speed and power, but a lack of discipline and limited imagination restricted his range. Don't get me wrong, the live version of "A Quick One" on LAL is an astounding tour de force. But by Who's Next he was already showing signs of fading. I disagree with John in Hendersonville - WGFA is a great song, but compared to other Who songs (like "Little Billy") it is almost plodding. Bohnam - seasoned studio pro from the beginning, and it showed. Great chops and discipline, moments of true inspiration. But he lacked a big ego, and Page had a huge one, so most of his recorded work is merely perfectly solid. Peart - best of the group, otherwise spelled G-O-D. Speed, power, training, creativity to burn, and not afraid to do it in the studio. Early Moon and Bruford influences clearly visible, mellowed lately with big band leanings. Pure genious with the bass drums, one of the very few who know what to do with two of them. As for Tom Sawyer, it is deceptively clean. It sounds easier to play than Red Barchetta, but it isn't. And those lyrics...!!!!!
  • John from Hendersonville, NcPeart is awesome, but I still hold with Keith Moon. Listen to "Won't Get Fooled Again" and you'll see what I mean.
  • Amanda from Amawalk, NyThe band Deadsy covered this song on their album Commencement.
  • Rocco from TorontoGreat song by the way the synth is cool
  • Micah Cameron from Dallas, PaFor heavens sake Neil Peart is the best rock drummer of all time and I will never figure out why anyone else will disagree, however he is NOT the best drummer of all time. Guys like Buddy Rich could drum circles around him.
  • Andy from Auckland, New ZealandI read at about the time Exit...Stage Left was released in Kerrang! magazine (UK hard rock comic) that Tom Sawyer was played on Top of the Pops, the long running but now defunct prime time BBC music programme. I'm pretty sure that it was the first, last and only time Rush ever got played on TOTP. I'm not sure if it was the studio version from moving pictures or a live version that was played. I had a copy of the live single, with Passage to Bangkok on the B side.
  • Joe from Montreal, CanadaPeart will be a pleasure to see onstage again soon in, Montreal. In my notion, it is hard to judge or choose who is best, seeing that they have all different stles of music, not worth fighting over. I would give my number 1 choice to Cozy Powell from "RAINBOW" BUT it is agin a diff style of drummer. As for our lovely neighbours to the South, get more hit's as I read before, free will is nothing to some others this Toronto band has and will perform.
  • Adrian from Monterrey, MexicoIn the song "The Trees" there are various time signatures: 6/8, 4/8, 5/8 and 4/4, but I'm not sure about 7/8. A lot of Rush songs use this signature in some point though: La Villa Strangiato, Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer, Anthem, Distant Early Warning, Freewill, Limelight, Natural Science.. and I'm sure I'm forgeting some
  • G-bo from Da Durty Burg, FlBest drummers in no particular order:

    John Bonham of Led Zepp
    Neal Peart of Rush
    Danny Carey of Tool

    Although having seen Danny Carey perform live in person several times does make me a bit biased towards him. he is insane and he is massive. His hands could juggle planets.
  • Frank from Las Vegas, Nva good reason why Peart should be considered one of the best drummers can be seen on his drum solo at the Buddy Rich tribute concert (there are clips on youtube). Of course, watch the related clip of Buddy Rich doing a solo and see a guy in his 60's playing with a speed I haven't seen matched and style to boot.
  • Kenny from Wilmot, Nhyou guys need to stop comparing neil peart to john bonham...bonham probably was an inspiration to two favorite drummers(percussionists)
  • Ryan from Seattle, Waget bent, paul from muskegon. Rush is the devil and they rule hard. Peart might not be the best drummer, but he's up there. He IS the best lyricist. Ever.
  • Danny from Des Moines, IaHola, mis amigos. Como estan? Muy bien, I take it. Well anyway, este articulo es sobre un song, y not sobre los drummers o sobre Zeppelin de Led. Pardon mi Ingles, but yo typie muy bien, don't you piensas?
  • Brian from San Diego, CaTom Sawyer is too good because thats all they play on the radio!Rush has alot of songs that deserve just as much air play.
  • Kickflipthecat from Podunk, NjAs far as amazing drummers, I mention a perennially unheard of name: Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater (he probably wins the most bass drums award). Less than one tenth of my friends recognize the name, and I hang out with prog fans.

    In other news, I absolutely love this song, and it's one of my favorite of all time. Moving Pictures just has so many really powerful songs (try all seven of them). Think about the message behind the lyrics, though, and you'll see that it's really deep and relevant political commentary on perception and popular thuoght.
  • Jon from Fort Collins, CoThis song is awseome. It is an amazing song that propelled Rush to the peak of their sucess without being simple rock or pop song that Rush has always been against. It also shows the amazing muscianship of Geddy, Alex, and Neil.
  • Culley from Greenwood, InNeil Pert rocks the house.
  • Alex from Dallas, TxI am obsessed with Rush and dont get me wrong its one of the greatest songs ever but..its definitely not even on my top 10 favorite rush songs. I perfer limelight if your going for mainstream rush songs there all amazing songs but there is much better Rush songs out there.
  • Pat from Costa Mesa, CaRE: This is an amazing song, and seeing Geddy play it live is quite an experience; his method is to play the bass parts with his left hand and the keyboard parts with his right, a popular approach with bass guitar-less bands (ala the Doors).
    - Mike, Ft. Lauderdale

    And you forgot taurus bass pedals with his foot as well!
  • Pat from Costa Mesa, CaKeith Moon was good. Alittle sloppy but good. Bonham and Peart, I think once at this level there is no more "who is better". The notion of comparison here becomes almost ludicrous. The title of "best drummer of all time" belongs to not one but rather an elite handful of percussionists to which these 3 most definitely have approval for induction. There exist past and present too many insane mind-blowers (Mike Mangini is one small example) thus making it impossible to say one is better than the other, etc. To say one is your "favorite" would be more realistic. Anybody agree with this? I just now came up with it but if you really think about it, it seems to hold more bottom-line "absolute" truth.
  • Basil from Skylark Sound City, MtActually Neil is not the best drummer in the world. It's another nameless soul who will probably remain that way. The world, consequently, will never know this truth because of it. But many are confident that on Judgement Day, the Day of Atonement, Christ Himself will resolve this issure between Moon, Bonham and Peart. If you read Apocalypse v. 3 or 4 or 5 (around there), he says something about a thundering (obviously he's referring to a drum solo) followed by eyes looking up toward the heavens (stage riser) and lights, fog, robes, crying, gnashing teeth (an audience in a mosh pit...) I believe at this point, the Angel Gabriel will call the three men in question to a gigantic Tama, with cast-iron rims etc. double bass. I would say mother-of-pearl, or perhaps the orange set Bonham played, I haven't deciphered the Biblical details of this holy drum competition. But I do know that, NO ONE ELSE will be judged "Until such time as the Lord Himself determines whether Peart really was the best drummer of all time." I believe he was, though Phil Collins' early stuff was quite tasty. It's my belief that most of the dead have fallen irrevocably into camps. This will be an awful reckoning.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrNo Matt H., Niantic, CT, it's not just you. I thought that when I first heard this.
  • Tony from Boston, MaAwesome song and can I just point out that its not the only song played on the radio. I would bet that Limelight or Freewill are played more.
  • Sam from Sacramento, Caguitarist in my band told me to listen to this song and when i did, i fell in love with rush and neil himself.
  • Adam from St. Louis, Moit seems that you all failed to mention the Mindless Self Indulgence cover of this song which can be found on their "you'll rebel to anything" album. i enjoyed it and you rush fans that have never heard it will too. also this version is featured in an episode of futurama where the character is playing space invaders while listening to his "all rush mixtape"
  • David from Guelph, CanadaWIL, Milwaukee, WI

    Bonham and Moon didn't kill themselves. Its just like taking a little too much alcohal. You might die. Its a word we call "accident". I think Peart is the 2nd best next to Bonham. And Moon is slightly overated
  • Kyle from Huntington, NyI don't even think it can be debated that Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time. I'll admit Keith Moon probably deserves second, but you only have to listen to a few Rush songs, like YYZ and One Little Victory to realize just how good he really is.
  • Mandy from CalgaryThis is a really good song. I like it a lot. It is probably one of my favourtie RUSH songs.
  • Mischa from WinnipegYou idiot of course lee was trying to sound like robert plant. Alex lifeson and jimmy page were friends and lifeson would've probably been in the yardbirds
  • Wil from Milwaukee, WiThe argument for Keith Moon or John Bonham being the greatest drummers in rock would hold a tad more validity if they hadn't KILLED themselves!!! At least Neil Peart had the GUTS to keep living after the horrendous personal tradgedies he's endured...AND to come back so strong as to claim the UNDISPUTED PERCUSSIONIST (not "drummer") in rock 'n' roll HISTORY!!!!!! Yes, I AM BIASED!!!!!
  • Jeanette from Irvine, CaGeddy was trying to sound like Plant. Before he came to Rush he'd travel around doing Whole Lotta Love performances in clubs and stuff.
  • Mischa from WinnipegYes tom sawyer is a great song. and ryan from WPG, cant wait till rush comes back to our hometown!!!!!!
  • Tristan from Omaha, Nethis is the best rush song ever because of the fact it has killer guitar and it was also in the movie waterboy the best football movie becides friday night lights and rudy
  • Sebastian from Miami, FlThe band chose this song as their concert opening song for the Vapor Trails tour.Something they had never done before. After all the trauma and tough times endured by the personal loses of Neil Peart (wife and daughter dying within a year of each other) and the possibility of the band being done for; they beleived Tom Sawyer would send the message that they were back to stay.It caught everybody of guard that they would use this song to open the concerts, but it made a powerfull statement to all their fans. This song was usually intoduced with a 1 to 4 count, if you were in the concert you would know it was coming.. For Vapor Trails, ther was no count, at least not in the usual sense. Neil gave the signal , which I am prety sure a lot of people missed. He simply closed his Hi Hat cymbal pedal with his foot, and this gave the band the signal to silently count the start of the song , cathcing everybody of guard. Check this by watching the Rush in Rio DVD or CD before the concert starts you will here a muted cymbal sound that starts the count.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScRush and Zeppelin ar pretty different. I don't know how you can compare them. They are both very influential though.
  • Joe Public from Anytown, AlKeith Moon is the greatest drummer of all time. No question. But "Tom Sawyer" is similar to "Freewill" in terms of message; the "modern-day warrior" is independent, experimental, free-thinking, and idealistic, just like the character from Twain literature. "No, his mind is not for rent / To any God or government."
  • Tom from East Lyme, CtCW from Canada, once again you speak the truth, I couldn't agree with you more
  • Cw from Vancouver, CanadaHey, if it's any consolation for you Rush fans, even the legendary Jimmy Page has a link to Rush on his website. I think it's safe to say even Jimmy respects Rush.

    See? There can be peace between Zep and Rush fans!
  • Cw from Vancouver, CanadaI disagree with AJ from Toronto about Peart being a beeter dummer than Bonham, but I agree that both are amazing drummers. I've seen them both play and I'm convinced that Bonham is still the greatest of all time. As far as fluidity goes, hmmmmm... that's a close call, but that's not why I would pick Peart or Bonham over the other. I do know that Bonham was an incredible thrasher, who evolved into a more technically great percussionist by the end of his short career and I don't think Zeppelin would have been half the band they were without Bonham. He was that dominant a drummer and that is the simple reason I'd choose Bonham over anyone else. Now, I've also seen Keith Moon play... another great drummer. When you get to that level, it's hard to pick the "best".
  • Aj from Toronto, CanadaI have to say, when it comes to comparing Led Zeppelin and Rush, it's impossible to conclusively say who's better; both are influential, both are extremely talented, and both are awesome bands in their own right. However, this nonsense that Bonham is a better drummer than Peart, that stops here. Bonham is easily one of the top 5 greatest drummers of all time, but you put him next to Peart in a drum battle, and it's not even close. Peart is so complex, so dynamic, so fluid, it's incredible. This song is a perfect example, especially the segue back into the second verse after the solo; utterly mindblowing. Neil Peart is the greatest rock drummer of all time, end o' story.
  • Nick from Trenton, Nj"It's just you, Matt CT. Geddy does not sound like a woman. He sounds like Geddy Lee, the singer of one of the best band on planet Earth. And oh yeah, Bonham could have only dreamed of being as good a drummer as Peart. - Rick, Toronto, Canada"
    Please, you must be kidding. Peart better than Bonham!? It's like asking whose a better guitarist, Jimi Hendrix or Billy Joe Armstrong. Bonham was a great drummer, he played them so beautifully, you don't relize that he's beating the crap outta the drums. In my books, Keith Moon is first, Bonham is second, and Peart is around sixth or seventh.
    But about the song, its pretty cool. I showed it to me friends once and they didn't like it. I guess they just don't appreciate good music.
  • Jujee from Marquette, MiWhy are people comparing Rush to Zeppelin...get a grip people..both groups have given us ALL so much and deserve much respect. This is about a song for crying out loud!
  • Chris from Spencerport, NyThis song kind of annoys me. While it is a good song in the fact that it is a bridge for many people into the world of Rush, many people dont get past it. Ive heard a lot of people say that Tom Sawyer is the most awesome song ever or when asked what their fav. Rush songs are they can only respond with Tom Sawyer. While it is a good song, there are MANY better Rush songs out there, two other big hits on the same album (Red Barchetta and Limelight)
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaThere are a lot of great studio bands out there,but what made rush so great was their ability to pull it off live. Lifeson with taurus pedals, or geddy playing the six-string tom on his double-neck while playing bass pedals(while lifeson solos in 'passage to bankok'), Rush is the best live act i've ever seen.
  • Rick from Toronto, CanadaIt's just you, Matt CT. Geddy does not sound like a woman. He sounds like Geddy Lee, the singer of one of the best band on planet Earth.
    And oh yeah, Bonham could have only dreamed of being as good a drummer as Peart.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThat's really funny Michael from NJ. This song is about teenagers in the eighties; "Today's Tom Sawyer mean mean pride." Neil Peart does so well on this! Yeah, Keenan, that's because you are from Canada. Here, I get Tom Sawyer, New World Man and Limelight.
    Interesting space invaders thing, whoever said it (sorry about the disrespect, but I have to get off the computer to do homework.)
  • Brettt from Voodoo Lounge, Txyea right Rush may be good their drummer is awsome but Rush isn't anywhere close to being better Zep
  • Bill from Dallas, TxZeppelin is and always be the best, but Rush is right up there with them man, i'll tell ya
  • Def from Houston, TxNot that it is worth anything, but if you listen closely you'll notice that when Geddy first sings "the world is, the world is" (at approx 1:12 into the track) the snare drum hits on "is" are lower in pitch than the others on the song. I've often wondered if they were dubbed-in for whatever reason.
  • Gary from Wilmington, Nc"Tom Sawyer" is a good song, but not nearly the best Rush song. For all who jumped on the Rush bandwagon with "Moving Pictures" you need to go back to the earlier albums for some true gems: Anthem, Bastille Day, Fly by Night, 2112, Xanadu, A Farewell to Kings, The Trees, Spirit of the Radio, Freewill - and the list could go on! Or just buy "All the World's A Stage" live lp and get the full experience!
  • Dave from Denver, CoIt's really hard to imagine a better, more intelligent song - unless you listen to just about anything else by Rush. War Paint, Scars, New World Man - these guys defined social consciousness in rock and roll. AWESOME band!!!!!
  • Chris from Charleston, ScAn Oberheim OB-XA synthesizer was used on this track for the opening sound effect and the synth-solo.
  • Travis from Phoenix, Nyi used to think that led zeppelin was like, the best band but then i found about Rush who completely changed my mind. awesome band, great song.
  • Jimmy from La, CaMy all-time favorite song ever

    catch the spirit - Coca-Cola (or Pepsi) advertising line from the early 80s

    catch the spit - that game of seeing who can create the longest spit bubble?

    the river - like "the ocean"(Zep) - the river of kids at concerts? The Mississippi River from Huck Finn?

    the space he invades - the popular 80s video game "Space Invaders"

    catch my drift?
  • Prince Edward Iii from Mountain Lakes, NjPerfect song--bass, drums, guitar. geddy's voice fits perfectly in the song. a masterpiece from perhaps the most talented musicians ever assembled.
  • Randy from Strathroy, OntarioWay back when this song came out, I was aware of Rush, I liked a couple songs, but they where just a litte too progressive for my taste, along with Geddy's grating voice. This song was instrumental in making them more mainstream, for the masses and made them more popular the world over. This song, this album got me interested in them bigtime. I haven't looked back since. I've seen them 3 times in concert. All of them virtuoso's at what they do.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThis song is awesome. I don't think I would have found out about Rush if I hadn't happened to hear it.
  • Mike from Ft. Lauderdale, FlThis is an amazing song, and seeing Geddy play it live is quite an experience; his method is to play the bass parts with his left hand and the keyboard parts with his right, a popular approach with bass guitar-less bands (ala the Doors).
  • William from Toronto, CanadaThis is a great song and one of Rush's best that they made.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI know what you mean matt from Connecticut. Geddy sort of sounds like a woman, and my dad thought that he sounded like a woman one time when we were listening to a Rush album. Hahaha.
  • Matt H. from Niantic, CtIs it just me...or does Gary (or "Gedde") sound like a women?
  • Liriwen from St. Louis, MoRush is fascinating. If there's one band that can pull off 7/8 time signature changes, it's Rush.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI think Led Zeppelin's songs are better than Rush's, but Rush has done some great songs.
  • Marlon from Nyc, NyThis sounds great live. On "Rush in Rio".
  • Mike from Philadelphia, PaThe "What you say about his company is what you say about society" verse in the lyrics is a referrence in itself to Huck Finn, the novel by Mark Twain. Most "Literature Scholars" agree that Tom Sawyer represents Society and its views in that story.
  • Keenan from Edmonton, CanadaI'm sorry but i'm gonna have to contradict almost everyone here, but tom sawyer is not the only rush song on the radio... where i live they play almost all rush's most popular music
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InThe staple Rush song no doubt. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy this song still to this day, but it seems to be the only radio played song anyone who is not a Rush fan knows. Maybe thats a good thing in a way.
  • Eloise from London, EnglandYou are absolutely right, Fred from Grathock. Too similar to be coincidence....
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhThis song is good but not as good as some of Led Zeppelin's best.
  • Fred from Grathock, NeI'm suprised Rush was not sued by Genesis for plagerism. Listen to Genesis' "I know What I like" from Seconds Out. The drum beat and synth in the begging is the same as Tom Sawyer.
  • Mathew from Orlando, FlI really love Rush, but Led Zeppelin definitely made several songs better than this.
  • Joshua from Ontario, CanadaThis song is definately better than anything Led Zeppelin ever did, it's not played enough on the radio though, this is number one in Toronto, no mystery why it is number one here too. This link comes up in Rush message boards all over the place.
  • Norman from Detroit, Miyeah i agree andrew, great song but its not exactly the most popular song in the world, at least not where i live
  • Meagan from Baton Rouge, Lacharlie, its true about your friend with alot of other people. people hear one song from a band expecially a famous band that every one likes and all the sudden they like it too. but id ont know i never hear anything being said about rush even though it should be because they are awsome. some people would call these several people "posers" and they cant find something for themselves that they like. this i usually happens with really popular classic rock bands like led zeplin and ac/dc which i dont know but in my opinion are overrated. classic rock is becoming a new thing i see and this is like the only rush song on the radio and w/e is on the classic rock station people are gonna like because it is now becoming a fad which is annoying because i hate when people talk about a band i like or dont like when they have only heard a song and know nothing about them. one guy actually thought that ronnie vanzant from lynyrd skynyrds name was lynyrd skynyrd which is disturbing to me. WHAT A WORLD :D its amusing at times...
  • Rob from Las Vegas, Nvtom sawyer brought me to rush. i was in little league baseball we were playing out of town and coming back on the bus i was sitting across from the girl on our team. her name was mary (good player too!)very pretty i had a crush on her as any 12 year old would i'm looking at her with my new hormones and tom sawyer comes on the radio she mouthed the words and i was in love she's gone but rush is still here true story
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScYeah song's great. The bass line's pretty cool too. "Tom " was the first Rush song i heard, and that was about a year ago. I bought 'Moving Pictures" yesterday, and yeag, it's a great album. At least that's what I think after listening to it all the way trough once.sawyer
  • Sam from Boise, IdThe keyboard ditty in the bridge section is played on a MiniMoog analog synthesizer.
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandRob- hey, I'd nevr thought about how good the production is on Moving Pictures is but it is quality! As is the production on Back in Black. I also think Operation Mindcrime by Queensryche is extrememly well produced.
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaTom Sawyer is definitely one of my favorite songs, ever. I was initially a little thrown by the synthesizer sound, being a 16-year old rock purist, but by the third time I heard it I was thinking, "Holy freakin cow, this is unbelievable." The lyrics kick ass, as do the bass, guitar and even keyboards. But, let's not deny it: it is Neil Peart's drum track that elevates this into the stratosphere. BEST DRUM TRACK EVER. EVER. My friend and I got into a fistfight over the binoculars when they started to play this in concert in 1984. I HAD to see Neil do this, up close, and of course he did not disappoint.

    The production here is landmark. Neither Rush nor anybody else would sound this clear and powerful ever again. Drums cannot sound any better than they do here. Moving Pictures was the first disc I heard on a CD player system and I was blown away, like that guy in the Maxell ad. Along with its contemporary, AC-DC's "Back in Black", I consider this to be the best-produced rock album in history.
  • Garth Wilson from Boylston, CanadaBarenaked Ladies do a small musical homage to this song in the middle of their song "Grade 9" off their first full length album "Gordon"
  • Stephanie from Houston, TxIn the book "Contents Under Pressure" it is stated that the original title for this song was "Louis the Lawyer".
  • Paul from Houston, TxThis is not a song about a boy. It's a song about "Pride" and "rebellion"! "Todays Tom Sawyer, mean, mean pride". This is a great song by a great band. No doubts why they open so many shows with this and why it usually begins any list of "best of Rush" collections.

    This is the better that most any other song by any other bands. I think I'll go listen to is now!

  • Marlo from Perth, Australiabit strange a mature man singing a song about a young boy
  • Chris from Hoboken, NyThe band has suggested several times in interviews that this is their favorite Rush song, because it brings together all of their favorite elements of their songs and, according to Geddy Lee, "a really wicked baseline".
  • Tom from Horn Lake, MsThis is an awesome song. If you have any taste in rock n roll at all you have to admit this is a supurb backbeat. It's not as good as some other Rush songs, granted, but it's a favourite classic rock song! The lyrics are kind of strange, I'll give you that. but it tells of a rebel like the original Tom Sawyer character, in that while he's a rebel that you can't judge him or who he hangs with, without judging society - as in "And what you say about his company is what you say about society."

    Whatever, it's an interesting song and I wish you luck as a song writer and hope you can be as good as Pye or Neil someday.
  • Judson from Birmingham, AlThis song is about today's "TOM SAWYER". The reference is to that even though the Tom Sawyer we are famailar with is set in a different time period and era, it can still be applied in today's society if we just will open our eyes and see the resemble.
  • Michael from Kearny, NjDuring the Moving Pictures Tour of 1981, the roadies constantly played pranks on Neil Peart, leaving dead fish everywhere he went (on his drum set, in his dressing room, etc...). While Rush was playing this song at the Garden, the roadies had placed a dead fish over a radio controlled car. A stunned Neil stopped playing for a moment while he watched the fish ride accross the stage. Since that moment, when playing Tom Sawyer live, Geddy Lee often sings, "Catch the spirit, catch the fish".
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Ctim a big rush fan and even though this is a great song, it is overrated. its not half as good as the necromancer, which is a SERIOUSLY underrated song. my freind john always talks about rush sayin how great they are, but this is the only song he knows! i seem him at school singing it all the time.
  • Horace from Western, MdThe late wrestler Kerry Von Erich used this as his entrance song in the 80's, billing himself as the "Modern Day Warrior". Rush took this as a compliment.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesIncidentally, Tom Sawyer was Rush' third UK Top 40 hit - helped by the success of The Spirit Of Radio the previous year, it reached a respectable No.24 in 1981 despite very little airplay.
  • Aaron from New Glasgow, CanadaAlex Lifeson plays this on Trailer Park Boys while bound with duct tape after his captor, Ricky, requests that he play "that Diane Sawyer song." Once freed Lifeson forgives Ricky for the misunderstanding and lets megaRush fan Bubbles act as the guitar tech at their next gig. Lifeson is a huge Trailer Park Boys fan.
  • Eric from Lake Forest, CaThe syndrum Peart used to make the signature sound really is a phat sounding synth...
  • Will from Portland, OrIts funny that a rap group would say that!
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis track was later sampled by a short-lived US rap collective, the Young Black Americans, apparently as they believed that Tom Sawyer was "the phattest s**t ever recorded, and deserves to be revisited".
see more comments

Editor's Picks

The End Of The Rock Era

The End Of The Rock EraSong Writing

There are no more rock stars - the last one died in 1994.

Who Wrote That Song?

Who Wrote That Song?Music Quiz

Do you know who wrote Patti Smith's biggest hit? How about the Grease theme song? See if you can match the song to the writer.

John Waite

John WaiteSongwriter Interviews

"Missing You" was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion triggered by a phone call. John tells that story and explains what MTV meant to his career.

Movie Stars In Music Videos

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Francesca Battistelli

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

Yacht Rock!

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.