You may have listened to “Jump,” Van Halen’s lone charttopping hit from 1984, without stopping to realize the deeper philosophical message laying just beneath the surface. David Lee Roth is here to help.
The ever-eccentric, ever-loquacious Van Halen frontman Roth was interviewed for the Japanese television show “Song of Soul,” linked in the video below, along with fellow co-founding Van Halen members Eddie and Alex.
“Might as well jump,” Roth says, ruminating. “Aw, you might as well. Let’s just not even have the verb ‘jump.’ Might as well! It’s a commitment to a forward space. There’s no wasted days, there’s no timing moves like in chess.”
Initially demoed in Eddie Van Halen’s new home studio with engineer Donn Landee, “Jump” was re-recorded the next day (in just one take, save for the guitar solo) by producer Ted Templeman, who recalls that Roth wrote the lyrics in the backseat of a Mercury convertible. Inspiration, Roth now says, came in the form of the age-old idea of carpe diem — or seize the day.
“Maybe the only rationale you can use is, ‘Hey, I might as well,’” Roth adds. “That may be all you need to propel you into your next big move in your life — or the next big mistake. Either way, at least you have a life worth living, a life well lived in.”
Eddie Van Halen, meanwhile, seems to have gotten his inspiration from a far more temporal source: The track’s famous synth signature, which heralded a move for Van Halen away from rock into more pop-oriented sounds, bears a striking resemblance to the riff on Hall and Oates’ earlier hit song “Kiss On My List.”