February 1981: Rush Releases "Limelight"

 L-R: Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee performing live onstage on Exit...Stage Left tour at Wembley Arena in London on November 04 1981. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)
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(Fin Costello/Redferns)

By the time Rush reached the '80s, the band had refined its music from sprawling prog-rock epics down to more concise blasts of rock wizardry. As the band's sound became more polished, their popularity soared. While they rode the wave of newfound success, dealing with it became a new responsibility none of the members really expected.

RELATED: February 1981: Rush Releases "Moving Pictures"

"'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," Geddy Lee said in an interview.

"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," the bassist continued. "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."

Taking from the band's breakout 1981 album, Moving Pictures, "Limelight" would be released as a single on February 28, 1981. The track would make an impact on the charts, peaking at #55 on the Hot 100 for the week of April 3, 1981.

"Limelight" is also notable for Alex Lifeson's striking guitar solo, which he cites among his most memorable.

"I've always enjoyed the elasticity of that solo, particularly the way it sounds on the record," he told Music Radar. "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."

In a separate interview, Lifeson would expound further on the solo: "It's funny: after all these years, the solo to "Limelight" is my favourite 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."

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Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Keep these in your heart for awhile.
Tom Hill/WireImage
But the song has more meanings than you'd think.
The album peaked at #17 on the Billboard 20.

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