Consider the Risks: Van Halen “Jump”

You may wonder, Van Halen and deep thoughts?  But “Jump” is a quintessential impactful song, one that elicits emotional response from me — that of joy and happiness.  The chords and music work together to create a sense of exuberance.

That said, lyrically, this song isn’t saying “I’m so happy, I could jump.”  Quite the opposite.  Things are tough and odds are against you.  That’s why you jump.  Precisely when you don’t feel like it.

I’m a soccer fan and it’s always fascinating to see the mental aspect play out in the game.  One example that comes to mind is a goalkeeper making mistakes.  Goals are so hard to come by in soccer, so when a goalkeeper makes a mistake and concedes a goal, it’s a big deal.  But what would be worse is if the goalkeeper just shrunk from the mistake and played timidly the rest of the game.  That’s sure to lead to more mistakes and conceding of goals!  What s/he has to do in this case is to just move on.  Be brave again, the next time a shot comes your way.

Jumping takes energy.  Jumping requires boldness.  Jumping is a risk.  If you wait until the opportune time to do so, you may never do it.  Sometimes you just have to do it, even when you don’t feel like to.


  1. Another great post, Ari. You analyze the fusion of lyrics and chords more deeply than anyone else I know.

    Although I haven’t listened to “Jump” in a while, I see where you are coming from with the way the lyrics contrast with the feeling you get from the chords and the melody.

    1. Thanks Aaron. I think this is a great example of a song where it’s accessible, easy to understand and upbeat, yet not shallow. David Lee Roth’s persona gets in the way a bit 😉 but the impact is there in the songwriting.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I thought it was an uplifting song to begin with, and the music is already that, but when I actually read the lyrics I realized it was even more powerful. I’m not one for happy songs but I’d like to have one or two heroic uplifting songs like this one in my catalogue one day.

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