Jacob's Ladder
by Rush

Album: Permanent Waves (1980)
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  • Jacob's Ladder is a reference from the Bible's Old Testament, Genesis 28:10-22. Jacob has a dream about a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
  • Neil Peart (Rush Backstage Club newsletter, December 1985): "This song simply describes the phenomenon of the sun breaking through the clouds in visible rays, as it sometimes does after a rain or on a cloudy day. The actual name seems to be one of those traditional names for natural things which has probably been around for ages. I think Geddy actually suggested the idea to me, after hearing his mother-in-law use the name. It had a nice sound to it, and of course the event itself is a beautiful and inspiring one."
  • In the April 1980 issue of Sounds magazine, Neil Peart explained how the song was written: "Whereas most of the ideas we were dealing with this time were on the lesser side, and in some cases, like in 'Jacob's Ladder,' looked at as a cinematic idea. We created all the music first to summon up an image - the effect of Jacob's Ladder - and paint the picture, with the lyrics added, just as a sort of little detail, later, to make it more descriptive." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 3
  • Guitarist Kirk Hammett, a huge Rush fan, copped to lifting a riff from this song for the Metallica track "The Thing That Should Not Be."
  • Rush songs have extremely challenging drum sections, but according to Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, this one is the hardest to play.

Comments: 22

  • Desert Tripper from Yuckapai, CaIt's worth mentioning that "Jacob's Ladder" is also a term often used for the phenomenon of a high-voltage electrical arc moving upwards between two diverging electrodes, like is often portrayed in mad scientists' laboratories in the movies.
  • Carl from MichiganLove this song - to the mundane it may not appeal, but as a guitarist it's HELLA fun to play!
  • Dougee from San Bernardino, CaJim: The bottom line is, anybody who's completely gone on religion will go to great lengths to draw an analogy between ANYTHING and some facet of said religion. I was a witness of such sorry dealings myself, having grown up in a heavily evangelical household and going to parochial school. Rush's songs resonate on many levels and can be interpreted in many ways, much as the stories in the Bible can be. Depending on one's point of view, this song could portray a battle between good and evil, God and Satan, an epic sky battle between warring factions (be they deities, armies, or whatever), or simply, as Neil Peart stated, a dramatization of a stormy day before the sun eventually breaks through.
  • Jim from Eden Prairie, MnTO: Jesse - LA, CA -
    This song has EVERYTHING to do with religion and the fact that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, forever! Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!!!!
  • Dean from Pune, India"T.C Broonsie" not Brunwich. This was a nickname the band gave Terry Brown, their producer at that time. The part of Geddy saying the song was written a long time ago was obviously a joke.
  • Doug from Nunya, Pain the beginning of the "exit stage left" version, geddy says something about this song, "being written a long time ag o by a man (?)T.C Brunwich (?) anyone know what he is talking about?
  • Rich from Baldwin, Nythere is a movie featuring tim robbins "jacob's ladder" a great psychological thriller
  • John from Asheville, NcNever a favorite of mine and quite honestly, I think it's the weak link on an otherwise fantastic album. It's monotonous and plodding.
  • Tom from East Lyme, Ctalong with what Robert from LA said, almost NO Rush song EVER had stayed in 4/4 for the whole song, the only one that comes to mind is new world man
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesJacob's Ladder is also the name of a popular tourist attraction in the UK, based at Cheddar Gorge
  • Casey from Pensacola, Fluhh... Jesse... re read the first statement. It doesn't say the song is about the bible story, it only states where the TERM Jacobs Ladder comes from. You seem to be reading something into that statement thats not there
  • James from Westchester, EnglandThe lyrics are almost incidental to this song. I've always thought this would adapt well to a symphonic transcription.
  • Jesse from L.a., CaVery complex song---> Great live version on Exit... Stage Left!
  • Robert from Schaumburg, LaTo every musician who has argued that the instrumental saection of this song is in 44 better take some lessons.
  • Jesse from L.a., Ca"Though the name of this phenomenon was derived from the scripture, the song has NOTHING to do with religion... Read the lyrics..." <-----
  • Craig from Melbourne, FlThe first statement in the songfact section is very much true in that the name of the phenomenon known as a "Jacob's Ladder" is taken directly from the Bible. Jacob was a Hebrew patriarch and first son of Isaac. On his way home after being annointed he laid rest upon a stone (later named Jacob's Pillow/Pillar Stone, a.k.a. Stone of Destiny) and fell into a sleep. In a dream he saw a ladder reaching from Earth to Heaven upon which angels were ascending and descending.

    The atmostpheric phenomenon where the sun peeks between dark rainclouds looks very similar to what Jacob described in his dream, and hence the phenomenon was named a "Jacob's Ladder."
  • Brian from Taipei, TaiwanIt's funny how few lyrics there actually are in this song. However, it holds together nicely and is a FANTASTIC image-conjurer.
  • Jesse from L.a., CaThe first statement in the songfact section is FALSE. This song has nothing to do with the BIBLE, rather with the atmospheric phenomenon known as Jacob's Ladder. Jacob's Ladder happens when there are dark clouds in the sky and a single beam of sunshine is coming down in a certain spot. Though the name of this phenomenon was derived from the scripture, the song has NOTHING to do with religion... Read the lyrics...
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InThis song just speaks for itself and it's Rush at some of their best.
  • Corwin from Boston, MaAlso- it has nothing to do with the 1990 Adrian Lyne movie "Jacob's Ladder", with Tim Robbins.
  • Mike from Medford, NyListen to this piece and think of a huge Thunderstom followed by the clouds breaking up and the sun comming through. GREAT INSTRUMENTAL.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis song has nothing to do Huey Lewis and the News' 1986 US chart-topper of the same name. Huey's version was written by Bruce Hornsby.
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