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Music / Moving Pictures

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Moving Pictures is the best-selling 1981 album by Rush. Their most popular album commercially, this was the album that cemented Rush as rock superstars and they were the most popular touring artist of 1981. The album was one of the first to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA when the certification was created in October 1984, and eventually went 4-times platinum. The album contains their most popular songs "Tom Sawyer", "Red Barchetta", "Limelight", and "YYZ".

Fan and critic reception was extremely positive, and not only is it considered to be the best album of 1981 for music in general that year, it is considered one of the greatest albums in rock history. The Moving Pictures tour was documented on the 1981 concert film/live album called Exit...Stage Left. The also play the entire album live on their 2010 Time Machine Tour to celebrate the album's 30th anniversary. It was also used by Phil Ken Sebben as the top level of his threat chart.


Not to be confused with the Discworld book of the same name.


Side One

  1. "Tom Sawyer"
  2. "Red Barchetta"
  3. "YYZ"
  4. "Limelight"

Side Two

  1. "The Camera Eye"
  2. "Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear)"
  3. "Vital Signs"

Principal Members:

  • Geddy Lee - lead vocals, bass, synthesizer
  • Alex Lifeson – guitar, synthesizer
  • Neil Peart - drums, percussion

Vital Tropes

  • Celebrity Is Overrated: "Limelight" is about how alienating it can be working in showbusiness.
    Living on the lightèd stage
    Approaches the unreal
    For those who think and feel
    In touch with some reality
    Beyond the gilded cage
  • Cool Car: The titular car in "Red Barchetta".
  • Darker and Edgier: "Witch Hunt".
  • Epic Rocking: "The Camera Eye", the last song by the band that went over 10 minutes.
  • Fish-Eye Lens: "Limelight" includes the line "Living in a fish-eye lens".
  • Instrumentals: "YYZ", probably their most famous one.
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  • Literary Allusion Title: "The Camera Eye" is named for one of the four narrative modes employed in the U.S.A. trilogy by John Dos Passos, one of Peart's favourite writers. Dos Passos would also later provide the title for “The Big Money” on Power Windows.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the paintings on the cover is of the "Starman" seen on the back cover of 2112.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "YYZ". Subverted, however, in that the beginning features YYZ in Morse Code, and the music is based entirely around that code.
  • One-Word Title: "Limelight".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "YYZ" is a shout out to the Toronto Pearson International Airport, the band's home airport. YYZ (or CYYZ internationally) is the airport identifier code. Neil Peart has been quoted as saying, "It's always a happy day when YYZ appears on our luggage tags."
    • "Red Barchetta" is inspired by Richard Foster’s short story A Nice Morning Drive.
    • The Eraserhead posters on the studio wall in the video for "Limelight" and "Tom Sawyer".
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "Limelight" refers to Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" line. The band had already used this line as the title for one of their live albums as well.
  • Trilogy Creep: The "Fear" series started here with "Witch Hunt". It was written in Anachronic Order since part 3 of the trilogy was the first installment.
  • Uncommon Time: As expected with Rush, this is ubiquitous throughout the album. "Limelight" quite possibly has more time signature changes than any radio hit this side of tool's "Schism", and "Tom Sawyer" is no slouch in this department either. "YYZ" famously opens in 5/4, though this is probably just because that's the way the Morse code of the title breaks down.
  • Visual Pun: Features up to three different puns: a group of men carrying paintings from a museum, as in moving pictures, a group of women crying at the sight of the paintings, which are moving pictures, and a film crew filming the whole thing, making moving pictures.