Rush Reboot – Limelight (1980)

This week’s selection is one of the band’s most famous songs. It is one that many of you will undoubtedly be familiar. It speaks to how difficult it is for some to reconcile who they are with who they often have to be. Alex’s guitar solo in this one is perfect for the loneliness that Neil wrote about. From Wikipedia:


In “Limelight,” lyricist Neil Peart comments on the band’s commercial success and the fame and its demands that come with rock star status. According to guitarist Alex Lifeson, the song “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]


Here, from the album Moving Pictures is the song Limelight.

Music: Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
Lyrics: Neil Peart

Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage

Cast in this unlikely role,
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact

Living in the Limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme

Living in a fisheye lens
Caught in the camera eye
I have no heart to lie
I can’t pretend a stranger
Is a long-awaited friend

All the world’s indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage

41 comments

  1. I didn’t…but u know that already.
    Amazing lyrics.

    How often we do that, put aside the alienation and go on with the fascination, usually about wrong things.
    But if we are, say, fascinated by life, instead of being frustrated by it, that’s a whole lot different story.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I knew you would, especially after you wrote about needing your quiet time these last few weeks.

          Yes, I do remember you reading it. I am currently reading his latest book about their (probable) final tour.

          Liked by 3 people

                  1. you said that one of my posts reminded you of a profound moment in your life. I challenged you to step away from your brilliant poetry and tell the story. You said you would consider it. Remember, you are a fine story teller brother

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. you didn’t promise, I merely challenged you to write about those things that stir up an emotion in you. I can only speak for myself but I would love to read it. And I would like you to get the feeling I get when I put a personal tale out there , it’s quite liberating

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not just one of my favorite Rush songs, one my favorite songs, period. Before knowing you I was just as likely to flip forward from an old Rush song on the radio or player, but never this one. This one I’ve always cranked up. Now, of course, I crank them all.

    When I was growing up (I can hear the audience groan, “why can’t Tom ever just say ‘great choice, love it!’ He always has an anecdote! 😜) folks would ask me, well we’d all ask each other probably, “don’t you want to be rich and famous?” or something along those lines. My answer was always the same, “I wouldn’t mind being rich if it fell into me but I’d hate to be famous.”

    A lot of folks didn’t know how to take that.

    I’m like Neil I can say now. Although I am a social creature there are times I want to be left alone, to be unrecognized and unrecognizable. Blend in, fade away. Fame would destroy my privacy. I’m with Neil. I can’t pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend (every time). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comments are just as powerful as your blog entries. No groaning here, believe me. Knowing that your fondness for the band has been rekindled is such a reward.

      I know I cannot take the showman out of me. It’s part of who I am. While I am getting better at not letting it hold reins all the time, I do feel the rush of attention. (no pun intended)

      I was in the performing arts for many years and could have pressed further. I chose not to and have often reflected how that might have saved my life. (See, you aren’t the only anecdoter here)

      As a VERY young boy my parents said I never met a stranger, but I do soooo appreciate the emoji and feel the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

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