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Limelight by Rush

Album: Moving PicturesReleased: 1981Charted:
55
  • The phrase "In the limelight" means the center of attention. In the early days of theater, a limelight was a device used to brightly illuminate the front of a stage, which put the main performer in a spotlight. The light was made by focusing a flame at a cylinder filled with lime that was projected through a lens. Lighting technicians had to be creative before electricity.
  • Drummer and lyricist Neil Peart: "Success puts a strain on the friendship and it puts the strains on your day-to-day relationship, and it's something that we did go through, you know, we're not immune to it. But we were able to overcome it just through our closeness and we were able to help each other with difficulties like that and then we could deal with the pressures and things and that."
  • Lead singer and bass player Geddy Lee: "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 and I are, it's harder 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. I guess in the one sense that we're a little bit like misfits in the fact that we've chosen this profession that has all this extreme hype and this sort of self-hyping world that we've chosen to live in, and we don't feel comfortable really in that kind of role."
  • Guitarist Alex Lifeson: "We were very, very careful not to let it get the best of us. That sudden success can really change you and you become lazy and you constantly have other people doing things for you and you lose perspective on why you're there and really what you're doing."
  • William Shakespeare's 1599 play As You Like It contains the line "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players" - a similar phase appears in the lyrics - "All the worlds indeed a stage, and we are merely players." Rush named one of their albums All The Worlds A Stage. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 4)
  • See a limelight photo and learn more about it in Song Images.
  • Lifeson has said in interviews that the song's solo is one of his favorites to play live. He explained why to Musicradar.com: "I've always enjoyed the elasticity of that solo, particularly the way it sounds on the record. It has a certain tonality I just love. I do like playing the solo live, but I think I prefer listening to it on the album. On record, it has a magical quality to it - it really conveys the pathos of the song and the lyrics. I've never been able to re-create that live. I get pretty close, but it's never exactly the way it is on record. I'll keep trying, though."
  • Rush appeared in the 2009 movie I Love You Man playing this song. Geddy Lee told Entertainment Weekly the shoot was a blast: "For us it was easy. We just played the same song over and over again 150 times. So we're playing and we got the pleasure of watching these comic actors do take after take. We were being entertained the whole time. I loved it. They're so nice, those guys: Paul Rudd and Jason Segel and Rashida Jones. And it came at a tough time, because we were on tour. It was right between a couple of gigs. That was our day off. So it was nice that it was such a fun experience, because we were pretty beat."
  • Giddy Lee told The Plain Dealer newspaper how the song's use in the movie has led to a more animated reaction when they play this at gigs: "The characters are going nuts while we're playing that song. Now I see kids in the audience imitating them and climbing on each other's shoulders. It's given them license to go completely crazy during the song. It's pretty funny from our point of view."
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Comments: 55

Without a doubt, one of the greatest guitar solos EVER. Gut wrenching. And I always loved how the high note at the end resonates as he comes back in with the chorus.Jeff - Austin, Tx
After listening to music from many different genres over the years I have come to this conclusion: If you don't understand the meaning of the lyrics in Rush's songs you are probably too shallow a thinker, lack the interest in finding out, have limited imagination and are out of touch with past, present and potential future social/political issues. In short out of touch with reality and the things that have effected and are effecting the human experience. Too bad for you.Chris - Cheektowaga, Ny
I am deeply offended that anyone would compare Alex Lifeson to Jimmy Page. Alex's guitar work is tight, technical and consistently precise. While Page's, although pleasing to the ear, is nothing of the sort. I like Zeppelin just as much as the next guy but we have to be honest with ourselves. And as far as drummers go, the guy who is second to Neil Peart is second by miles. Just my opinion.Lynn - Chicago, Il
Why can we all just get along ! ;o)
Rush is a great Band, Zeppelin a great band, Floyd a great band - I listen to them all - seen them in concert
Another great band from Canada is Saga
Growing up in the 70'ties I was a Sweet fan - still is
I listen to all kind of music and respect others opinions - but why put in negative comments, just because (in this case) Rush is not your favorite band
Just dont get - anyway just random thoughts and a wish we all get along and enjoy good music
Ole - Copenhagen, Denmark
I agree with Mike, Page was sloppy as hell. He was great for his time, like Hendrix was, but they both were products of their time. After Zeppelin was done, Page was essentially finished, except for when he teamed up with Plant one more time in the 90's. He was sloppy then too. I know, I saw them three times on the Plant/Page tour - twice in Philly, once in NY. Please don't say "but what about The Firm!" Oh please....
If Jimmy Page was the all powerful guitar god he is held up to be, he would have continued in a much more significant way than he did.
And yeah, I know this comment has nothing to do with Limelight.
Claude - Kingston, Ma
I don't understand a lot of the comments here, like those about record sales. Is somebody trying to say that Beethoven was not as good a musician as The Beatles?Bob - Munich, Germany
To the butt-nuts arguing about who's better, Zeppelin or Rush: THEY'RE BOTH GREAT BANDS. Can we please stop the sadness? Paige was a sloppy guitarist, but made up for it with great feel.Mike - Matawan, Nj
My favorite song. Has good meaning, has great music.Alden - Canton, Ga
This is my favorite Rush song. I love how they use theater as a metaphor for life. And I think I would appreciate that more than others because I want to be an actor when I grow up.Bret - Coos Bay, Or
hey don't worry friend, I saw these guys back in May last year and they played it!Nick - Edmonton, Canada
If I were to see Rush live and they did not play this song, I would feel as if they didn't play Tom Sawyer. These songs ARE the staple of seeing Rush live!!Jason - Denver, Co
Rush rocks just as hard as Led Zeppelin, so don't compare and contrast'em. This song has my favorite drum part in it. It's just really cool.Trey - Kalamazoo, Mt
'Limelight was a Italian restaurant in Chinatown in NYCPete - Staten Island, Ny
Overplayed but a classic and perhaps my favorite Lifeson riff and one of his best solos. Great song from an exceptional side 1 of the best Rush album...LOL. Says everything. Awesome tune....(vocally too).John - Asheville, Nc
I love this song, could be one of my favorite Rush songs. The guitar riffs and Geddy's singing give me the chills every time I listen to it; which is like every dayAllie - Clarkston, Mi
Alright everyone, I love Led Zeppelin, I love Rush, and I love Pink Floyd. But I laugh when someone says "o led zep totally kix rushes A$$!!!1!!!!11!" same goes for rush and pink floyd fans. And just cuz all u led zep fans r being stupid like that on this thread, would u like to know that they ripped off half of there songs from lesser known blues bands before them? Its so ironic how how everyone says they are the greatest band in the world. Look there great, but there is no "greatest band in the world." to do that you would need to compare to completely different genres of music. and doing that is like comparing dark matter and apples. it just wont work. so sit back, shut up, and enjoy the music.Brandon - Philadelphia, Pa
Ok, why are people putting down Rush and Led Zeppelin?? They are both AWESOME bands, although completely different so its impossible to compare them, or the players because each member had different styles and ways they contributed to their respective band. Zeppelin is my favourite band but that does NOT at all mean that Rush is bad. I love Rush. So please people if you have negative opinions about these godly bands keep them to yourself, especially here on a thread of Rush fans. Get a life. and this isn't a zeppelin thread so lets stop discussing them. seriously...Melanie - Seattle, Wa
Limelight is such a great song, it's catchy, has a deep meaning, and it quotes Shakespeare. What cooler things could you ask for? Rush rocks. :DMelanie - Seattle, Wa
This song is beastly. Neil Peart is one of the best freakin drummers around! Jimmy Chamberlin, Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, and Tommy Lee are all up there tooMax - Laconia, Nh
Thriller is still the best selling album of all time. like it or not. outa here with that "open your minds" , while you spew closed minded comments about a band that you happen to not appriciate. This is a great song.Bradley - Portland, Or
anyone who makes fun of Rush is probably listening to some head bangers who play palm mute E on the guitar for the whole thing...lmao...that ain't music, that's monkeys learning how to strum a guitar...John - Shreveport, La
Alright, Led Zeppelin is a kick a** band, its been my favorite for years, my dad has gotten me to listen to rush, ive just seen them live on their snakes and arrows tour, it was kick a**, excellent, 50 year old guys on stage opened with this song, this song is great, but for you pple who are bashing rush have no brains at all. led zeppelin is blues essentialy, rush is progressive(im preaty sure), but there compleately two different styles music, there un compareable, they are both deffenetly the worlds greatest bands for skill, and for great music. Page and Lifeson are (were) equall in skill, i say were because page hasnt been playing much in the past 25 years, but both guitarists in ther hieght were equally skilled, they played two different types of music though, same goes for bonham and piert, John bonham could work wonders with one bass drum, you'd have to listen hard, but both drummers were excellent and un beatable, same for Jones and Lee, but once again, they all played two different styles of music. both bands are un beatable in their on ways, both are excellent, both produced music tht no other band could think or even flipping dream of makeing, half the bands today lip sing and pretend to play, ive seen some of them "play live", rush is the last of their breed of music, if bonham hadent died, led zepp would be around too, but, to sum it all up, there both great bands, and lime light has great meaning in it, not just of the lyrics, but guitar bass drums and lyrics all together makes the song meaning fullJimmy - Front Ro, Va
o and the number 1 selling album was dark side of the moon, it was on the top 100 charts the longest so it is not Led Zepplin IV. but don't get me wrong, led zepplin is still awsome...Ian - Greensboro, Nc
alright...my opinion is this: for all of you Zepplin fans out there, i'm all with you that they are a great band, and i think that pink floyd and rush are too, but instead of coming to the rush comments and insulting them, why don't u just go to the Zepplin comments and comment them. because some of the people who are commenting here are probably hardcore rush fans and don't want you to be talking smack about rush. i'm just saying...Ian - Greensboro, Nc
actually...who this some guy who likes music! peart is rated as the number 1 drummer in the world! bonham is number 2...but my personal favorite...danny carey of tool isnt quite up there yet...#8 but hell get there...you bet ur a**Adam - Wauseon, Oh
Matt & Justin, check this out, it's what this song is all about... (And life for that matter)

Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
The underlying theme.

Peace Out -)
John - Austin, Tx
Hey Matt, you're an idiot. if you knew anything about rush you would know that among musicians or even anyone with good musical taste they are very highly regarded and respected. You're just so stupid you can't think of any better way to insult them than to call them "bald queers", because with their musical merit, you really can't insult a band like rush.Justin - Montpelier, Vt
Rush, Led Zepplain, and Pink Floyd are all amazing bands in their own regard. And matt, I dont think you having a negative oppinion of them makes them "bald queers" (whatever you were implying).Chris - Spencerport, Ny
Alright, I'm sick of this...all i've seen is the comparrison between Led Zeppelin and Rush. They are both legends in rock history. They are also so different you cannot compare them. Whether it's Peart's technical style or Paige's amazing speed and mind blowing solos. They both rock which is why they are my two favorites. Stop trying to compare hard rock/blues with progressive rock...it doesnt workOliver - West Jefferson, Oh
I enjoy listening to some of Rush but I will have to admit led zeppelin is better. They are one of a kind. They worked hard to earn their respect. I am especially a fan of their later music before the death of their drummer. If you have never watched the Led Zeppelin DVD you don't know what you are missing. Watching them perform Achilles Last Stand in 1979 is just breathtaking. It makes me not even want to listen to Rush anymore. Most of the lyrics in Rush songs just don't meake any sense. Zeppelin songs have a lot of deep meaning to them, I encourage you guys to listen to some real music.Matt - Detroit Rock City, Mi
First of all, don't go putting down led zeppelin. they are a hell of a lot better than"Rush." Rush doesn't even have any meaning to the name of the band! Led Zeppelin does! Led Zeppelin has sold twice as many albums than Rush! Led Zeppelin is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Jimmy Page was listed as second greatest guitarist of all time! John Bonham is rated #1 drummer of all time! Don't go talking about things that you don't know a damn thing about. Led Zeppelin I, II, AND IV were rated #1 sellers 7 years in a row! Led Zeppelin would draw the largest crowds than any other band,even the Stones! The 1979 Knebworth concert had a crowd of over 250,000 people! LOL!LOL!LOL! EAT THIS RUSH FREAKS! ROLL THIS INTO A BLUNT AND SMOKE IT!LOL!Someguywholikesmusic - Fayetteville, Nc
I agree with Paul. Rush is quite annoying and Jimmy Page smokes Alex Lifeson, Bonham smokes Neil Peart. You Rush guys need to open your minds a little more. And by the way, the best selling record in rock history was Led Zeppelin IV.Brett - Muskegon, Mi
Sometimes when I hear certain folks converse about songs like this on Songfacts I wonder if they are completely oblivious to the hidden meanings of these records. "Oh, it's got a catchy hook", "That 3/4 time change is sooo cool", etc...
It's so much deeper than that. A great song must be felt to be understood. The meaning of this song is so heavy it hits like a ton of bricks. Can you not feel the force of what it's saying? "Limelight" has to be one of the most brilliant rock songs I've ever heard.
Daniel - Springfield, Ma
lol paul Rush has sold more albums that zeppelin first of all and Rush are great musicians there songs have meanings i think that hearing about overatted led zeppelin is annoying and hearing that Jimmy Page is a good guitarist is annoying cuz he really isnt Alex Lifeson hands Pages ass to him in a paper bag and so does RushRocco - Toronto, Canada
This has to be the best song of all times!!!!!!!Even if you´re not a rush fan, you have to admit it´s a killer song. Incredible chords and wonderful interpretation.Miguel - Lima, Peru
The performer's anthem. One of my favorites.Joe Public - Anytown, Al
This has to be one of my favorite songs. Not only is it a friggin amazing song for its sound, but because the way RUSH plays it. They took this fairly simple song(for RUSH) and turned it into a musical masterpiece. The members of RUSH are truly " musician's musicians". And have proved that time and time again. P.S. yyz is awesomeJoe - North Arlington, Nj
Rush has some of the most impressive key changes of any rock group ever. Here is a comparison: Led Zeppelin (who i hate, but everyone else seems to have a hard-on about) had a song called "Black Dog." It was written in two distinctly different keys, but Jimmy Page and John Bonnham ignored it and played it in 4/4 time like woosy girls. Rush would have never done that...they thrive on musicality.Brandon - Peoria, Il
I agree with Allen from Coquitlam. Rush is not typically known as pop. Yet the song has "pop" elements to it, whatever pop really means. In all, music is made to be viewed by us differently individually. I get erked when people are called poser or not a real fan cause they don't agree or buy into a group of fans POV.Tony - Boston, Ma
another great song by rush. me and my little brother play this song. drums are pretty simple for peart. if only my brother were better at guitar...Sam - Sacramento, Ca
I've been singing this as a bedtime song for my daughter (now age 3) for well over a year, and she just loves it.

I kept wondering if it was getting through to her, when one day I came upon the video for this song playing on VH1. At the chorus ("living in the limelight...") my daughter turned to me and said "My bedtime song!!!"

Brought a tear to this Rush junkies eye.
Mike - Sayville, Ny
Very well done, ecxellently composed and written, fantastic song.David - Port Hawkesbury, Canada
The line "All the world's indeed a stage and we are merely players" is actually a quote by William ShakespereChris - Spencerport, Ny
Y'know, if anyone here is really a rush fan, you wouldnt really care how you classify Rush's music. It's not going to change the music, or anyones oppinion on it. And yes, it's a very pop-y song... for Rush, so yeah, you could say it's pop. either way it's still damn amazing

oh, and as for "the best" tom, it couldn't be... Marathon is MUCH better
Allen - Coquitlam, Canada
this song beats any song written now a days and is really a great piece of music escopiecally the drumming this is coming from a young boy who hates rap( i agree with the guy below me)Matt - Haddon Hieghts, Nj
I think Tom is right, in the best sense of 'pop.' This song is beautifully written and arranged, perfectly produced, and authentically heartfelt. It is everything today's pop songs are not.Brad - Indianapolis, In
Tom in England I hope the word "pop" means Rock cause if not you have the wrong song in mind. Limelight and Rush are my favorite of all time!!!!!!Scott - Riverton, Ut
My personal favorite song of all time.Michael - Houston, Tx
tom, rush is in no way shape or form pop. they were actually very influentail to bands like metallica.Norman - Detroit, Mi
I don't even think its so much to do with super stardom AS to do with "EACH OF US" ...All the world's indeed a stage
And we are merely players:... each of us is in our own play... and somebody else is merely another's audience outside their "guilded cage"
Steve - Marietta, Pa
The ultimate pop song. anyone agree?Tom - Trowbridge, England
I guess super stardom and fame can have a huge effect on your personal life. It's a very demanding job, but noone does it better than Rush. So Rush guys keep doing what you're doing because you make ppl very happy.Yolanda Morphinite - Bountiful , Ut
The opening guitar riff sounds very familiar to a riff used in the segue section of Wings' "Band on the Run". Don't believe me? Take a listen sometime! Alex took it and turned it into one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time.Kent Lyle - Palo Alto, Ca
Limelight also used to be a dinner theatre in Toronto, the bands home townThomas - Victoria, Canada
Good message in this song.Travis - Lawrence, Ks