A Six-Pack of Pearl Jam

Finally, patient long-term readers of this blog are thinking. ME is finally saying something intelligent by featuring PJ. Well, no, you’ll have to keep waiting for some smart words to leak from these pages. But in the meantime, enjoy some Pearl Jam. One out of two ain’t bad.

My six-packs are not to say that these are the six best of any given artist, just six I dig. Could be a different list next week. 

Since my readership skews somewhat younger than yours truly – I’m like, 95 or so – you probably know more about these guys than I do. Nevertheless, a brief history and then I’ll run down some info and thoughts on 6 or a half-dozen tunes.

-Early ’90’s. Seattle scene comes out of nowhere and takes the rock world by storm. Grunge. Nirvana. Flannel. Soundgarden. Alice in Chains. Mudhoney. (Did I miss anybody?)

If you get a chance sometime, check out Pearl Jam Twenty, a documentary I saw a few years back. I remember pieces of it like Eddie Vedder getting hold of tape of the band’s (then called Mookie Blaylock) music, adding his lyrics and voice to it and being asked to fly up (from San Diego) to jam.

And I recall how dedicated these guys were to their music. I don’t remember hearing one conversation where anybody said, ‘If this doesn’t work out I’ll work at Dunkin’ Donuts.” This WAS their job.

Now, I don’t like every single thing they’ve ever done and I’m hardly a megafan. Sometimes they hit the note like they do here. Sometimes they can sound like a highly energetic rock band with generic rock songs. They have like, 80 songs that sound like “Corduroy.”

But they are a totally ferocious fucking facemelt band when they’re on. They play like a unified machine. I plan on seeing them next time they’re on tour. And while they didn’t defeat TicketPrickBastard, I’m sure glad they took them on. Like their idol Neil Young, they’ve got integrity.

First up: From Vitalogy, “Spin the Black Circle.” Per Wikipedia: “According to Vedder, the tune is about his and the band’s love for vinyl records. At the band’s July 1, 2003 show in Bristow, Virginia at the Nissan Pavilion, Vedder proclaimed “This song is about old records, old records, anyone remember old records?” (For that matter, does anybody remember laughter? – ME).

The lyrics play on the similarities between drug addiction and addiction to records and music, as many of the lyrics may be interpreted either way. It is unclear to what extent this is intended to be a serious comparison of different types of addiction and to what extent it is just intended to make the lyrics interesting.”

Spotify link

Until I read about “Daughter,” I thought it was a straight-up song about child abuse. It may (or may not) end in that but it’s a about a learning disability, probably dyslexia which Eddie Vedder had as a child. “The child in that song,” says Vedder, “obviously has a learning difficulty, and it’s only in the last few years that they’ve actually been able to diagnose these learning disabilities, that before were looked at as misbehavior; as just outright rebelliousness, but no one knew what it was.

These kids,” he goes on,”because they seemed unable or reluctant to learn, they’d end up getting the shit beaten outta them. The song ends, you know, with this idea of the shades going down—so that the neighbors can’t see what happens next. What hurts about shit like that is that it ends up defining people’s lives. They have to live with that abuse for the rest of their lives. Good, creative people are just fucking destroyed.”

Powerful tune:

Spotify link

Not too sure what “Animal,” from Vs. is about but word has it that maybe they were pissed off at the record company. If so, wouldn’t surprise me given what I know about one of the shittiest industries in the world:

Torture from you to me, yeah
Abducted from the street
I’d rather be
I’d rather be with
I’d rather be with an animal

I don’t 100% know what “Yellow Ledbetter” is about but Mike McCready owes a big debt to Hendrix on this one. That riff is all Jimi:

Spotify link

“Alive” sounds like one of those uplifting songs like U2’s “One.” However, according to the site RadioX:

It tells the story of a man who finds out his father is actually his stepfather and that his biological dad is actually dead- an event which occurred in Eddie Vedder’s own life when he was a teenager.

“Son, she said
Have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy
Was nothin’ but a…”

The fictional element of the song sees the mother then have an incestuous relationship with the son, who resembles his biological father.”

Fun for the whole family!

Spotify link

You know, after that I’m not even gonna fucking speculate on what “Go” is about.

Spotify link


23 thoughts on “A Six-Pack of Pearl Jam

  1. I tend to favour Pearl Jam between Vitalogy and Riot Act – I find the first two albums less enticing, and I like when Vedder took over and made them more punk and weirder. Yellow Ledbetter, along with Black, is my favourite track from the early era though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was talking to the guy I went to see Steely Dan with. He saw Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. He was surprised at how many of their songs he didn’t know. “Black” is his favorite tune as well. I avoided that though because at one point in time in these parts they played that and “Jeremy” so often you’d think PJ was a one-hit wonder with a double-sided single and not much else.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sadly, I have to admit that with the exception of a handful of songs and Adam Sandler’s hilarious impersonation of Eddie Vedder, I hardly know anything about Pearl Jam. And of course the Neil Young connection. Probably a band I should further explore.


  3. I really like this band. On a gut level I guess it’s because they rock hard. I seen that doc you mentioned. I like their style also. Good cuts. They have a pretty impressive library and hard core fans. I don’t keep up with the going ons of too many folks. I would say CB just likes their music.


  4. Pearl….. Jam? Never heard of em.

    Nice choice of songs there, sir. Yellow Ledbetter changes lyrics often enough but it takes it’s root from a friend of Vedder’s at the time (Tim Ledbetter) who’d just got a letter saying their brother had died fighting overseas ‘coming home in a box or a bag…’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, but somehow you remain the master. It’s funny but I hadn’t planned on doing a six-pack on them just yet. But then I heard “Spin the Black Circle” on the radio and said, man I have to push that song out. The choices weren’t hard and as mentioned, I’m kinda done with ‘Black’ and ‘Jeremy’ at least for a while. Sad story about Ledbetter. Vedder’s lyrics tend towards the dark.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well you rang my bell on this one for sure – snapped me out of my doze on here. I’m knee deep in a great book at the mo – an oral history of the scene called Grunge is Dead. I’m hoping to read one soon called How Trump Was Removed From Office


        1. Well, that book can come in one of two flavors – voted out or impeached out. The former only if the Democrats get their shit together. Unlike you lot with the Labour party, socialism here is somewhere below child molester. And Bernie is a socialist, Warren seems like one and Biden is on the verge of running out of money.

          As to Trump being removed by impeachment, it all comes down to a Senate trial. So the book you reference could only happen if it is preceded by a book called Senate Republicans Grow a Pair.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I dunno, Corbyn is a pretty toxic figure here too. I can’t stand the cretin, he’s a fence-sitting socialist and his determination to pull that party to the red left rather than the central ground that Blair used to dominate while raising the country again is painful. I don’t want to vote Labour but they’re the only party with a chance to take the seat off the Conservatives in my area next month.


        3. Understood. But the difference is you HAVE a socialist party and it is and has been an accepted part of your society. Over here in stupidland, we (literally) equate socialism with communism. So, the state will not only own the means of production but it will also tax you to death and we will first be like (God forbid) Sweden and then ultimately Russia under Stalin. It is a fucking joke but Joe Q. Average American citizen is – to quote our former secretary of state – a fucking moron.


  5. I do like Pearl Jam… one of the bands I listened to most when I was at high school, but I’m probably in the minority when I say I find Ten a bit too generic these days. I think they got interesting when they released Vs. That album still sounds like a shot in the arm. I also think it has been a case of diminishing returns since Riot Act.


      1. I saw them on possibly their worst night ever (back in 2000) and I’d like to see them again (regardless of the shit they’ve put out over the last 15 years, they remain a band I’m awfy fond of and, based on the boots I’ve heard, reports from a PJ daft pal, and footage, they’re very much still into it big time on stage. Consistently brilliant. Just a shame that they avoid Scotland.


        1. Yeah, I think you’re right… though I do think they should be capable of putting our something brilliant. Perhaps not interested in challenging themselves.


        2. Truthfully, I think most groups should probably disband after 6 or 7 years max. U2 hasn’t done anything great for years, for example. Just about any band you can think of runs out of ideas and effectively goes out as a nostalgia act of sorts. I saw the Stones this year and I think the most recent tune they did was early ’80s


        3. I dunno, if Pearl Jam did that they potentially wouldn’t have gotten to their best stuff. Flaming Lips definitely wouldn’t have. A lot of my favourite bands would never have made their best albums (in my opinion). Queens of the Stone Age… Pilots… perhaps there can be exceptions in certain circumstances. Three strikes and you’re out? U2 would have been long gone, RHCP and Weezer, too.


        4. Maybe then a better way to look at it is not in number of years but in when is a band creatively exhausted? Unfortunately too many keep on going long past that time, and to your earlier quote on another topic, it’s for the money and not much else.

          Liked by 1 person

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