How Rush Wrote “Tom Sawyer”

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Thanks To Mark Twain’s Novel


The lyrics of Rush’s Tom Sawyer are based on a character Mark Twain created in his first novel book, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” that was published in 1876.

In the book, Tom Sawyer finds himself into different sorts of adventures. Throughout the book, Tom matures by experiencing a lot of things such as experiencing many rites of passage.

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Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart said in December 1985:

“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.”

Pye Dubois the lyricist for the band Max Webster also collaborated on the songs such as “Force Ten” and “Between Sun And Moon.” Tom Sawyer began as a Max Webster and was titled “Louis The Warrior.”

The first instrumental section, the time signature changes to 7/8, showcasing how geniuses Rush were musical. And this time signature can also be heard with other songs by Rush, such as “Limelight,” “The Trees,” “Distant Early Warning,” and “Freewill,” among others.

Geddy Lee once said that they hated “Tom Sawyer” when they first recorded it by stating:

 “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.”

Then he told to The Plain Dealer newspaper that they never expected this song to have such success:

 “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.”

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