During the course of the month I have been following @yesokwaitmaybe and @jasonsammis on Twitter. Music fans would submit which band they were covering and the idea would be to upload a favourite song each day.
I liked the idea of this challenge so put forward Pearl Jam for my contribution. Going to be quite a task as Pearl Jam have so many songs. To help me put together my selection I took inspiration from Pearl Jam’s one and only visit to Belfast in 2010 which would be the first time I got to see them in my home city. After so many false starts, 2009 being my first Pearl Jam gig in London, this was a band I was determined to see more than once.
Pearl Jam gigs are epic in nature, some clocking nearly 3 hours on stage. So the Belfast set list is the inspiration but there will be some changes along the way.
Starting at no.25 we will work our way down the list until we get to no.1 I hope you enjoy my selections. I had fun putting this together.
25. Sometimes (No Code 1996)
24. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In a Small Town (Vs. 1993)
Took me two songs to get the grip on how to post. The first two I posted I didn’t upload any videos. Looking back, I couldn’t find any but I have just come across this clip of Eddie Vedder being interviewed by Howard Stern back in November 2020 where he goes both songs at his home
23. Better Man (Vitalogy 1993)
Originally written by Vedder prior to joining Pearl Jam. A story about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. A personal song for Eddie. It was nearly given to Chrissie Hynde from Pretenders. Imagine this one getting away. It wouldn’t appear until third album Vitalogy was released in 1993.
I love this clip of Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder performing it live.
22. Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog 1992)
Temple of the Dog was a side project by members of both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It was a tribute to their friend Andrew Wood who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Eddie Vedder had just arrived in Seattle and contributed the vocals on Hunger Strike with Chris Cornell. A powerful duet from two of the best vocalists in Seattle scene. I would love to have seen them both do this live.
21. Given to Fly (Yield 1997)
The first single from their fifth album which was another favourite of mine. The original clip I posted on Twitter is no longer available. Below is the audio of the single.
20. Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover)
Many Pearl Jam set lists include covers for their favourite artists. I picked this one by the Dead Boys which is a blistering track live. Gets even better when you have other Seattle legends Mudhoney (Mark Arm and Steve Turner) along with Kim Thayli from Soundgarden on stage belting this out.
19. Long Road (Merkin Ball EP 1995)
Not on any particular studio album, Long Road being a B-side on the EP. It features Neil Young and Merkin Ball is a companion to Young’s 1995 Mirror Ball album. Pearl Jam played with Neil Young at Slane Castle in 1996 which is one of the biggest regrets I have of got going to as I was out of the country at the time. Somebody get me a time machine!
18. Present Tense (No Code 1998)
This song penned by Mike McCready ranges from a somber introduction to a soaring jam towards the end. A fantastic track from the album.
“Have you ideas on how this life ends? / Checked your hands and studied the lines?” “Makes much more sense,” “to live in the present tense.”
17. Low Light (Yield 1998)
Written by bassist Jeff Ament and showed the collaborative nature of the band. This being one the stand out tracks from the album. It was Jeff’s idea of when the album got it’s title, Yield. I love this version of the song from the Let’s Play Two soundtrack.
16. Nothing Man (Vitalogy 1994)
We had Better Man earlier, this time Nothing Man also from the same album written by Ament as well. Jeff wrote the music which Eddie wrote the words to it. The songs all form a trilogy of sorts, the other song being Leather Man.
15. Release (Ten 1991)
This is a great set opening for any Pearl Jam gig. The slow build up just draws you in when you are probably expecting a more heavier or rockier number to start the gig. It really doesn’t get much better than this. Found this clip on YouTube from the first Pearl Jam show I was at. What an opener for your first gig.
14. Yellow Ledbetter (b-side to Jeremy 1992)
This song didn’t make the cut for Ten and would feature more prominently in their career later. A live favourite usually at the end of the gig when the lights come on and you can see everybody singing along.
13. Wishlist (Yield 1998)
The second most popular Pearl Jam song from Yield. Matt Cameron from Soundgarden made his debut with the band when they performed this song on the Late Show with David Letterman. Matt has been regular drummer since then.
12. Alive (Ten 1991)
Following their appearance on The Late Show for BBC, Pearl Jam were no longer unknown quantity. Their debut album Ten still hadn’t been released in the UK.
With no audience in the studio for Vedder to play up to, Pearl Jam took their opportunity to perform in front of potentially millions of people at home. This had a big impact on me with it being the first Pearl Jam single I went on to buy that I still have and also the album too.
11. Jeremy (Ten 1991)
Another solid cut from Ten. Vedder was reading a newspaper article and wrote the entire lyrics about a Texas teenager who’d committed suicide in his high school classroom on 8 January 1991. This version below from MTV Unplugged is brilliant.
10. Even Flow (Ten 1991)
By this stage Ten is starting to dominate the list and it is easy to see why. It is such a quality debut. Always a live favourite, you are going to be guaranteed a Mike McCready solo. He is in such great form here.
This clip from Reading 2006 makes me wish I had the strength of my convictions to have my stag weekend be at music festival. Instead I spent the weekend in Barcelona organised by my friends. Prior to going to Barcelona, I finally got my first ticket to see Pearl Jam in Dublin. Sadly it was the day before my departure to Barcelona and there was no way I was going to make it time from Dublin for my flight.
I had to sell my ticket on and managed to get a recording of Reading 2006. Barcelona was a great stag weekend but I think this would have been my major highlight!
9. Once (Ten 1991)
Watching the live footage of Pearl Jam during the European tour of 1992 is amazing and the TV highlights of Pinkpop festival in Holland are one of my favourites to watch.
This just looks class. The crowd is up for it, there are no mobiles (imagine!) and it just makes you want to have been in that moshpit.
8. Animal (Vs. 1993)
Another great track from Vs. The first line of the song “five against one” was almost the title of the second album but they decided on Vs. instead.
7. Go (Vs. 1993)
Vs. is now taking over the selections. If Ten is a great album, Vs. is a masterpiece. As soon as you put it on, the opening track Go just it just blasts out the speakers and grabs you by the throat.
6. Daughter (Vs. 1993)
Written by Stone Gossard, it was played for the first time with rough lyrics on Pearl Jam’s first appearance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit.
5. Indifference (Vs. 1993)
A great song that closes the album. “I’ll swallow poison, until I grow immune/I will scream my lungs out til it fills this room.”
Clip below is a duet of the song between Ben Harper and Eddie Vedder.
4. Black (Ten 1991)
When I originally posted this I was torn over which version to go for. For your visual pleasure, I have included the MTV unplugged version as this is as good acoustic. Such a great song that Vedder refused to allow it to be released as a single. Imagine the overplay of it on the radio.
3. Corduroy (Vitalogy 1994)
One of the band most beloved songs. The song was inspired by the artist seeing a replica of his favourite thrift store jacket selling for hundreds of dollars by a store eager to cash in on the grunge zeitgest. “They can buy but they can’t put on my clothes”.
2. Rearviewmirror (Vs. 1993)
This song is the first time that Eddie plays guitar on. A live favourite it really gets the crowd going.
“Saw things so much clearer/Once you were in my rearviewmirror”.
- State of Love and Trust (Singles OST 1992)
Of all the songs that made my list, this one stands out the most and is my all time favourite Pearl Jam song. Possibly left over from the Ten sessions, the song appeared on Cameron Crowe’s Seattle influenced movie, Singles. The band contributed two songs for the film, the other one being Breath.
The movie may not have been my favourite but the soundtrack album changed my direction music wise as it opened it up a bit more than just Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
You can also check out the originals in my Spotify playlist.