For Rush‘s R40 tour, they broke out “Jacob’s Ladder,” the track that closes out the first side of 1980’s Permanent Waves, for the first time in many years. But bassist-singer Geddy Lee revealed in a new interview that it took a while for him to warm up to the idea.
“We played it initially on the first couple of tours and then we stopped playing it for a while, he told Classic Rock. “We lost interest in it. But it was constantly one of the top five requested songs from fans for us to bring back into the live show. We resisted that until the last R40 tour when we did bring it back.”
“I was really not thrilled with the idea of playing it,” he continued. “The other guys were up for it, and I wasn’t until we were in rehearsals, where I went: okay, now I remember what I liked about this song. So I got back into that head space for it. And then during the last tour I enjoyed the hell out of playing it. We all did. It was clearly a highlight of the show. It’s got those great, relentless signature moments that Rush fans love so much!”
Lee explained that the writing of “Jacob’s Ladder” was pivotal for the group because, at seven-and-a-half minutes, they managed to find a middle ground between the lengthy compositions for which they’d gained a reputation and more traditional song structures.
“We wanted to do something different,” he said. “Even the longer songs – and there are a couple of profoundly important longer songs in our history. But songs like ‘Natural Science’ and ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ are on [Permanent Waves] too, right? So those two are both indicative of what I’m taking about. They’re quite different, and again they’re long concepts, but contained in a 10-minute time frame, as opposed to dragging this concept over a side-long thing. We didn’t feel that ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ was profound enough to be a one-side thing, you know? And over the years our affection for that song has grown, largely because of how much affection our fans have shown it.”
A 40th-anniversary edition of Permanent Waves will arrive on May 29, adding a second disk of 11 live tracks and a 40-page hardcover booklet. They’ve unveiled a couple more of the concert recordings, “Freewill” from London and “Natural Science” from Manchester, to go with a previously released Manchester cut, “The Spirit of Radio.” Check them all out below.