Like my 20th high school reunion approaching and catching me off guard, knowing that Pearl Jam with their amazing first album, Ten, debuting in 1991 caught me by surprise as well. Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands of all time. Unfortunately I have only seen them in concert once (wish I could say more) and when I did see them it was way after their initial success. But don’t get me wrong, that show was amazing and it only reconfirmed why I will always love and respect this band.
When I think of Pearl Jam, some great memories rush into my head. First they always make me think of one of my greatest friends from college, Bryan R. When Pearl Jam’s 3rd album, Vitology, came out, we drove from Ashland, OH where we were attending college to Cleveland, OH to stand in line at midnight to be one of the first to get the CD. And as I think about this, I think that is the one and only time I ever did that. And when we got back to our dorm room, we played the crap out of that CD for weeks and weeks.
Pearl Jam are a hard working band; not prone to stereotypical excesses of other rock bands. They just do their thing, work, tour, make music from their heart and minds and have always rebelled against corporate scum (ie: the Ticketmaster boycott in 1994).
Of course you can’t really talk about Pearl Jam without mentioning Nirvana. Nirvana introduced the world to grunge and killed the declining popularity of hair metal back in the early 90’s. But Nirvana and Pearl Jam are so different musically speaking. Cobain had issue with Pearl Jam at the time because he said they were “commercial sellouts” and that the album Ten was not a true alternative album due to its number of guitar leads (cited from Wikipedia.org and Rolling Stone). And Cobain is correct, their are the standard rock guitar leads on many Pearl Jam songs but that is what makes them great for they integrated the essence of “grunge” into rock n’ roll giving an expansiveness to their music where as I feel Nirvana’s music is so alienating at times (and I feel that is what Cobain was striving for most of the time) that you get caught up with the loss of Nirvana and what could have been. Pearl Jam had many dark messages but there was always hope and a sense of moving forward no matter what life dealt you. With Nirvana, it was just dark and not much hope.
(Photo by: Shandopics: http://shandopics.paradepro.com/)
Below are a few of my favorite Pearl Jam tracks!
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