Rush’s “Limelight” and Shakespeare “As I Like It”

I am not going to lie, I did do some research for the perfect song this week. I typed into google “Shakespeare and contemporary music” and there was an abundance of information. Shakespeare definitely has had a major impact on the lyrics in songs. In general, I was searching for a song that best fit the “As I Like It” play we read in class. Low and behold, Rush has an entire album entitled, “All the World’s a Stage” and I just thought HOW PERFECT?! Specifically, the song “Limelight” by Rush is dedicated to this idea that the world is a stage. The extremely melancholy character, Jaques, is the original character that coined this term. “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players” (Shakespeare). Similar to Jaques character, the lyrics create a somewhat melancholy feel to the song. “Cast in this unlikely role / Ill-equipped to act / With insufficient tact / One must put up barriers / To keep oneself intact” (Rush). The idea of the “gilded cage” also leads me to believe that this song is intended to be melancholic, as well (Rush).  I am guessing that the gilded cage is intended to be this place of detachment from the real-world, while the real-world is meant to be the stage. 

The last stanza of the song very blatantly references Shakespeare’s “As I Like it” because the lyrics are “All the world’s indeed a stage / And we are merely players / Performers and portrayers / Each another’s audience / Outside the gilded cage” (Rush). This idea of the “gilded cage” appears at the very first and very last stanza of the song. In the first, Rush refers to being “Beyond the gilded cage” and then states, “Outside the gilded cage” (Rush). I feel there is some type of significance here even though the words “beyond” and “outside” are somewhat interchangeable. Maybe the song is supposed to portray a person who isolates him, or her, self from the real – world and than comes to the realization that he/she “can’t pretend a stranger / Is a long-awaited friend” (Rush). The tone also seems to change from being melancholy to enlightening once the chorus joins at the third stanza, which is coincidentally when the “I” of the song has the epiphany that he/she can no longer hide from the world, and must become a “player” of the “stage”.   

Idea developed from:

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