The clouds prepare for battle
In the dark and brooding silence
Bruised and sullen storm clouds
Have the light of day obscured
Looming low and ominous
In twilight premature
Thunderheads are rumbling
In a distant overture

All at once,
The clouds are parted
Light streams down
In bright unbroken beams

Follow men's eyes
As they look to the skies
The shifting shafts of shining
Weave the fabric of their dreams

Lyrics submitted by maxthedork, edited by chp2112

Jacob's Ladder Lyrics as written by Alex Lifeson Geddy Lee


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Jacob's Ladder song meanings
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  • +4
    General Comment
    I absolutely love this song. It evokes so much mood with the music - the drumrolls, the ever-changing time signature, the arpeggiated chords. It also is a great piece of philosophical poetry. The first section represents the philosophical darkness of the past. Clouds are something that are very ethereal and shapeless. They grow darker and darker until they begin to release their energy violently. And suddenly, someone understands. The philosophies of old fall impotent before this comprehension. "Light streams down in bright unbroken beams." And the result? The dreams of men are finally able to be acheived.
    TheSuperSpudon July 20, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    Hats off to you 'thesuperspd', this song is so underated. The timing of this piece just gets into your blood. Thunderheads are rumbling in the distant overture.. Love that shit!!
    chino69on August 01, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    This song has absolutely nothing to do with religion or philosophy. It is a simple and pure piece of descriptive writing created by Neil when he was inspired by a thunder storm and the natural phenomenon called "Jacob's Ladder" that occured afterwards and the sheer beauty of those sun beams breaking through the clouds.
    Blaze_Infernuson January 12, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    I wrote a short paper on this song awhile back for one of my Theological classes. As a long-time Rush fan (since 1977 or '78 in my mid-teens), and having read my share of Neil's writings, band interviews, etc... thru the last three decades, I know that my interpretation is likely NOT anything like Neil would admit to. That being said, let me say that in this song, which is one of my faves off this most excellent album, I hear a telling of the Second Coming of Christ. What follows is NOT the paper I wrote (alas, it is on a long-dead computer...), but simply some of the ideas as they stood in my mind, in my remembrance... 1. ANGELS in Christian scriptures are often symbolized by CLOUDS. 2. "the dark and BROODING silence" (the lyrics above are WRONG) - the end times, when Jesus returns, are not necessarily a joyous time for the heart of God, because it not only involves meeting His loved ones - those who have accepted the grace of God - it ALSO involves the destruction of the wicked, which is, in Scripture, called His "strange work," and "strange act," a "consumption determined upon the whole earth." Isaiah 28:21-22 Consider: "For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near— a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations." EZEKIEL 30:3; "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven..." DANIEL 7:13; "a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come." JOEL 2:2; "That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness" ZEPHANIAH 1:15; "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." MATTHEW 24:30... Also there are scriptures which speak of "silence in Heaven" for a certain time period, which may theologically be speaking of the time when the Lord returns... 3.) THE LIGHT OF DAY - Jesus... Obscured by the angels (CLOUDS) that are all around Him, until He should be revealed in all His glory... "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." 2 THESSALONIANS 1:7 4.) TWILIGHT PREMATURE again speaks of the darkness that accompanies the Lord's return, both figuratively, and literally (the angels/CLOUDS being such a great host as to block out the light of the natural sun) 5.) THE REVEALING - "all at once, the clouds/ANGELS are parted, light streams down in bright unbroken beams" - it will indeed be a glorious event, awesome to behold (see 2 THESS. 1:7, quoted above) 6.) Follow men's eyes... I belong to a church that has a certain emphasis on eschatology (end time events), and having studied it quite a bit myself, all the verses that speaks of Him "coming with clouds" (you can search these things using, I often find myself looking up on cloudy days, and thinking, "Is it today, Lord?" Yes, this is the fabric of my dreams... Don't go off on me, as I said, I know this is NOT Neil's view on the meaning of the song. Simply one man's interpretation... As the header asks, "WHAT DOES THIS SONG MEAN TO YOU?"
    OmegaThesison November 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Yes I highly recommend this song. One of Rush's best.
    zaqwert777on October 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    That is an interpretation taken very seriously!
    rushpwnsxon April 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    the keyboards sound like a meowing cat!!! thats pretty cool
    necrophageon May 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Rush's metaphors can have all sorts of meanings. Not sure if anyone missed the snare drums rolling a marching cadence at the beginning, kind of sets me to think of this as being about the military. The dark sullen storm clouds could be nations at war, brooding because they have no easy way to win. Suddenly the clouds are parted and the war is won by a bright new technology that causes death to the enemy: atomic bombs split clouds with their light. The shining shaft of weave the death of their dreams. I'm not saying anyone's interpretation is wrong. The dark sullen storm clouds could be a more pesonal war in a person's head with drug abuse causing the conflict. The shining beams could be a revelation: finding God or something to get them out of the drug abuse.
    mrbubbleon June 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    This Song Rocks Face
    Tailsfan2009on July 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    I have no idea what this song is about, nor can I agree with anything written so's too vague. There aren't enough lyrics to flesh out an absolute sort of meaning. I just am writing this 'cuz it brings back so many memories (Jacob's Ladder). As a musician in high school when this song came out, I remember every drummer, every bass player, every guitarist in my school could only aspire to play as flawlessly as Rush. But we tried! Many many hours we tried, hitting bad notes, missing cues, it was hilarious!
    DrBubbleon May 08, 2010   Link

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