1001 Songs Challenge,  1980s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #550: Tom Sawyer (1981)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Rush – Tom Sawyer (1981)

From Camden Town in London all the way across the ocean to Toronto, Canada for our listening pleasure today, dear reader. We are in the company of a rock band by the name of Rush. They first formed in 1968 but did not nail their ultimate line-up of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart until the latter joined the group. When we meet up with Rush it is 1981 and their eighth album, Moving Pictures, has been released. From here, 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Tom Sawyer.

Collaborating with lyricist, Pye Dubois, Tom Sawyer is the story of a modern day rebel, a reincarnation of the classic character created by Mark Twain. The song describes an individual who seems to be on the periphery of society but at the same time encompasses what the world is. He is beyond the reach and influence of the government, a free spirit, continuing along a self-chosen path seemingly without care or constraints. It resonates strongly with Twain’s character and also with Huckleberry Finn, both boys that sought adventure and were not keen on conformity. 

I have heard of Rush many times but, again, know next to nothing about them. Tom Sawyer is one of their most famous tracks though I don’t recall ever hearing it. It is an absorbing piece of rock with distinct vocals, mouthwatering guitar solos and some fine drumming. Rush would continue to perform until 2015 when all live shows ended. In 2018 it was announced that the group had disbanded, 50 years after their founding. Sadly, drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart died of cancer in 2020 at the age of 67.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)

The Police – Message in a Bottle (1979)

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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