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Limelight (Rush song)

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Title: Limelight (Rush song)  
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Subject: All the World's a Stage (album), A Show of Hands (video), 1981 singles
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Limelight (Rush song)

Single by Rush
from the album Moving Pictures
B-side "YYZ"
Released February 28, 1981
Format 7"
Recorded October – November 1980 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
Genre Hard rock, progressive rock
Length 4:26
Label Mercury Records
Writer(s) Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart
Producer(s) Rush and Terry Brown
Rush singles chronology
"Tom Sawyer"
"Vital Signs"
Moving Pictures track listing
"The Camera Eye"
Audio sample

"Limelight" is a song by the Canadian progressive rock band Rush. It first appeared on the 1981 album Moving Pictures. The song's lyrics were written by Neil Peart with music written by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. "Limelight" expresses Peart's discomfort with Rush's success and the resulting attention from the public. The song paraphrases the opening lines of the "All the world's a stage" speech from William Shakespeare's play As You Like It; the band had previously used the phrase for its 1976 live album.

The single charted at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Top Tracks chart and #55 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and remains one of Rush's most popular songs. "Limelight" was one of five Rush songs inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28, 2010.[1]


  • Background 1
  • Recording and live performance 2
  • Appearances in popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


"Limelight" sees Rush commenting on their commercial success, and the fame and its demands that come with rock star status; the song, according to guitarist Alex Lifeson, "is about being under the microscopic scrutiny and the need for privacy--trying to separate the two and not always being successful at it".[2] Bassist Geddy Lee describes the motivation for "Limelight" in a 1988 interview:

Limelight was probably more of Neil's song than a lot of the songs on that album in the sense that his feelings about being in the limelight and his difficulty with coming to grips with fame and autograph seekers and a sudden lack of privacy and sudden demands on his time ... he was having a very difficult time dealing with. I mean we all were, but I think he was having the most difficulty of the three of us adjusting; in the sense that I think he's more sensitive to more things than Alex [Lifeson] and I are, it's difficult for him to deal with those interruptions on his personal space and his desire to be alone. Being very much a person who needs that solitude, to have someone coming up to you constantly and asking for your autograph is a major interruption in your own little world.[3]

In a 2007 interview, Alex Lifeson gives his take on "Limelight":

It's funny: after all these years, the solo to "Limelight" is my favorite to play live. There's something very sad and lonely about it; it exists in its own little world. And I think, in its own way, it reflects the nature of the song's lyrics - feeling isolated amidst chaos and adulation.[4]

Recording and live performance

Lifeson's guitar solo was performed on what he called a "Hentor Sportscaster", a modified Fender Stratocaster equipped with a Floyd Rose vibrato arm. Critics frequently point out Lifeson's use of vibrato in the solo,[5] with Max Mobley writing that it "is dripping with Floyd Rose whammy".[6] "Limelight" has been described as Lifeson's "signature song",[7] and critics cite the influence of Allan Holdsworth.[8] Lifeson himself calls it his favorite solo.[9]

The song is a staple of Rush's live performances, having been played on every tour since its release except the Grace Under Pressure Tour (1984), the Presto Tour (1990), and the R40 Live Tour (2015).[6]

Appearances in popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Infantry, Ashante (2010-01-20). "New home a place to sing praises of our songwriters"(News) .  
  2. ^ Morse, Tim (1998). Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Songs of All Time. St. Martin's Press. p. 104.  
  3. ^ "Moving Pictures".  
  4. ^ Joe Bosso (July 2007). "Vital Signs". Guitar World. 
  5. ^ Guitar All-in-One For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. 2011. p. 266.  
  6. ^ a b Mobley, Max (2014). Rush FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Rock's Greatest Power Trio. Backbeat. pp. 120–21, 190.  
  7. ^ Kitts, Jeff; Tolinski, Brad (2002). Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time!: From the Pages of Guitar World Magazine. Hal Leonard. p. 82.  
  8. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 167.  
  9. ^ Guitar World Presents Dear Guitar Hero: The World's Most Celebrated Guitarists Answer Their Fans' Most Burning Questions. Backbeat Books. 2012-05-01. pp. 16–17.  
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