Limelight (Rush song)

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For the song by Kepi and Kat, see Limelight (Kepi and Kat song). For The Alan Parsons Project song, see Stereotomy.
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 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
file info · help

"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]


"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:

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

Recording and live performance[edit]

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

It is a staple of Rush live performances.[6]

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

  • The song was featured somewhat extensively in the 2009 movie I Love You, Man. The same film also featured "Tom Sawyer", the hit single from the same album.
  • The song was also featured in the film Fanboys, which also featured "Tom Sawyer".
  • The song was referenced in the 2009 movie Adventureland.
  • The song is available as a downloadable track for the music video game series Rock Band, along with the rest of the Moving Pictures album.
  • In an episode of Trailer Park Boys, Bubbles gives Mr. Lahey the finger to the opening riff of "Limelight" while driving by in a car.
  • Gregg Zaun, a former Major League Baseball catcher, used this song as his walk-up song.
  • The song was used in the movie Sonny featuring James Franco and directed by Nicolas Cage.
  • The song was used for the title sequence of That's My Boy.
  • Upon the band's entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a slightly edited version of the song was used in the intro for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada on April 20, 2013.
  • The song was used in the movie Used Cars, starring Kurt Russell. It's playing on a car radio in the parking lot.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Infantry, Ashante (2010-01-20). "(News) New home a place to sing praises of our songwriters". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  2. ^ Morse, Tim (1998). Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Songs of All Time. St. Martin's Press. p. 104. ISBN 9781429937504. 
  3. ^ "Moving Pictures". In the Studio with Redbeard. 1988. 
  4. ^ Joe Bosso (July 2007). "Vital Signs". Guitar World. 
  5. ^ Guitar All-in-One For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. 2011. p. 266. ISBN 9780470550182. 
  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. ISBN 9781617136047. 
  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. ISBN 9780634046193. 
  8. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 167. ISBN 9780793540426. 
  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. ISBN 9781476813592.