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