“Jump” is the second song on Van Halen’s MCMLXXXIV/1984 album. It’s Van Halen only number one hit on Billboard. Recorded at 5150 Studio, Los Angeles, circa April-May 1983
The first song cut in Eddie’s new studio, it has the spatial quality of the kind of thing The Who had done in their early 70s heyday. The song had been in demo form for a couple of years, but he never managed to persuade the band or producer that it would amount to much. Recorded in one day, and featuring lyrics David Lee Roth scribbled as he was driven around Los Angeles listening to a tape of the instrumental track. Dave Marsh, in his book The Heart of Rock and Soul: The Greatest 1001 Singles Ever Made ranked it the 28th best single ever, one spot above the Beatles ‘Ticket to Ride’. On the back of its simple pared-down performance video, it helped the 1984/MCMLXXXIV album sell an astonishing eight million copies worldwide in the first ten months of 1984.
Parts of “Jump” had originally been written on the back of a tour bus in as early as ’79 or ’80. However, the band had always felt the song didn’t quite fit any of the albums they’d been working on. David Lee Roth and Ted Templeman were the biggest opponents of Eddie’s keyboard songs and consistently vetoed recording this song for more than two years.
When Eddie gained control in the studio by building 5150, he was able to record more with just Alex and Don Landee. One day the three laid down the basic tracks to the song and presented it the following day to Dave, Mike, and Ted. Whether the rest of the band truly loved the song or felt somewhat compelled to record it is not known, but soon Dave was writing lyrics for it.
David wrote the lyrics around a single phrase: “Go ahead and jump.” He came up with the line after watching the news and seeing a man on top of the Arco Tower threatening to commit suicide. The vocalist thought that there’s always at least one person in the crowd telling the guy to “Go ahead and jump.”
Eddie recorded the song using an Oberheim OBX-A keyboard. The solo was spliced together from at least two different takes.
The ending of the song has a history all its own. The main riff for Top of the World was written around the ending of “Jump”. However, the ending of “Jump” had been heard before, during the 1983 Us Festival, when Eddie played it at the end of “Dance the Night Away“.
Jump spent 4 solid weeks at #1 on the charts. The single was certified gold on 04/03/84.
In 2012, PRS for Music, the organization which collects royalties on behalf of 90,000 songwriters and performers, polled its members to find out what the most popular sporting song was in the run up to the Olympics. “Jump” was the number one most popular sporting song of all time.
This song appeared on the albums 1984, Best of Volume 1, Live: Right Here, Right Now and The Best of Both Worlds.
The music video for “Jump” (the first from the album 1984) was produced by Robert Lombard and directed by Pete Angelus. It was a straightforward concept, much like many of the hard rock videos of the time. It shows the band performing the song at a mock concert. It was nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards, and won “Best Stage Performance” for the video.
It was filmed using 16mm hand-held cameras at The Complex in Santa Monica, CA. Although David Lee Roth claimed the total cost was only $600, the actual cost was much higher.
The audio in the video differed slightly from the album version. (During the keyboard solo prior to the final refrain, David Lee Roth is heard (and seen) yelling out. He did this during the band’s mock performance for the video’s filming, and it is believed that afterwards he overdubbed this yell especially for the video version since it is not present in the song to begin with). Sharp-eyed viewers will also notice Eddie’s keyboard is quite dusty.
From Guitar World:
Eddie previously played synthesizer on songs like “One Foot Out the Door” and “Dancing in the Street,” but here he plays his Oberheim OB-Xa like a true keyboard instrument instead of a surrogate guitar. “Certain people didn’t want me playing keyboards because they thought I should only be a guitar hero,” he recalled. “But hey, I’ll play Barvarian cheese whistle, if I can play it well – whatever that is.” Ed called his guitar solo – spliced from two separate cakes – his favorite solo he ever wrote.