Background and Commentary

Neil in his book Roadshow says the song is one of his attempts to capture the experience of a touring musician. “I had tried to capture that paradigm from the beginning with the Wes Emerson stories [early attempts at fiction writing that he abandoned], and time after time since then, even in songs like ‘Limelight,’ but I had never been satisfied. I kept thinking that if I could just make people see what it was really like, they would understand everything. And, like everybody, I wanted so badly to be understood.”

“Limelight” is Neil’s take on fame. It “opens with a ‘Fly by Night’ power riff. This could have been an early Rush metallic tune, but there’s a much more accomplished band playing here [than before].”—Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

“It deals with two kinds of ways you can look at success. On the one hand, you can treat it as living out some sort of charade. On the other hand, it’s something that’s very real. You certainly have to draw the line somewhere as far as when you become public property and when you’re a private person.”—Geddy in Merely Players

“Because we’ve never been a high-profile band, we’ve managed to retain a lot of our privacy. But we’ve had to work at it. Neil’s very militant about his privacy.”—Alex in a 1996 Guitar Player interview

“Fame, for me, is embarrassing. It’s not something I get arrogant about. I don’t feel like people are bothering me. But, at the same time, I get embarrassed if strangers walk up to me on the street who think they know me. I just get embarrassed, tense, and uncomfortable. They don’t know me. It just makes me defensive. (Modern Drummer, 1984) I . . . changed it from the first person, to say ‘One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact,’ whereas my original intention had been ‘I must put up barriers.’ And when Geddy suggested the change of focus I realized it was right.”—Neil in Merely Players

The piece is one of five songs for which Rush was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. The other four are “Closer to the Heart,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “Subdivisions.”

Four “Limelight” tribute versions.


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 fish eye 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


by David Gilmour

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.








Ultimate Guitar.


“Limelight” guitar cover

“Limelight” bass cover

“Limelight” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 5, 2011.

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