“I think this is the first Pearl Jam post on the blog, so I’ll have to take a moment to talk about my twenty-year love affair with this band. Actually, I’m just going to quote myself from something I wrote a while back:
‘Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Pearl Jam, so it should go without saying that the first moment I heard their music changed not just the way I think about music but changed the course of my life. Their impact on me in my most formative years is too profound to go into here, but my first steps into understanding music, art, poetry, and even things like love and death started the day my new brother and best friend Hesam walked across the street with the Ten cassette. Ten was released a week after my 10th birthday, but the night I heard it was another year or so later. That was just fine with me at the time because the wait for Vs. was a lot shorter.’
Pearl Jam is a band that I’ve cared for and appreciated more and more as time has passed, to the point where they’ve stopped being a band in my mind. They’ve become like a beloved family that I don’t see very often, but when I do I can completely open up and trust them with all of my thoughts and feelings. They give me perspective on the world that has changed as I’ve grown with them. We both make missteps (me: bad relationships; them: that Avocado album) but end up stronger because of them (single life; Backspacer).
I actually don’t listed to Pearl Jam very often, but I know the songs intimately (except for the aforementioned Avocado ones) and treasure them dearly. It’s almost better not hearing them for awhile because the songs move and breathe with me in different ways depending on where I’m at in my life. I had just recently watched PJ20 for the first time since seeing it in theaters last year, which has sent me on a mini PJ kick through some of my favorite tracks.”
I hope you enjoyed that bit of Inception. Vitalogy is among my favorite PJ albums, but it looms the largest in my personal life as it soundtracked a troubled and complicated adolescence. I know, whose wasn’t, right? I was a horrible mess of emotions, hormones, and probably the onset of some form of clinical depression, struggled to find the right path and alienated myself from pretty much everyone in my life. I started experimenting with drugs and the liner notes featuring poems unrelated to the songs, dental X-rays, and archaic medical texts, not to mention truly bizarre songs such as “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me” were made manifest in strange ways in my already weary mind.
But those are stories for another time. (Never).
“Corduroy” is arguably Pearl Jam’s best song. It’s not my personal favorite (it’s amazing, don’t get me wrong), but I’d be hard-pressed to tell you another song that’s better written top to bottom. The title references Eddie’s famous brown corduroy jacket which was copied by fashion designer sold for upwards of $500. I’ll admit to having my mom buy me one, but it was the variety that could be picked up at Miller’s Outpost in the local mall for about $20. The lyrics are some of Vedder’s best, clearly illuminating the band’s psyche at the time as they waged war against Ticketmaster, fair-weather fans, each other, and fame itself.
I could write an essay on this song given the time and energy, but I’ll sign off here with another quote from yours truly:
“The band’s edges have naturally softened with time, but their music still resonates with me in a way that few other artists have. As songs by 20-year-old kids become less and less relatable, it’s nice to have a trusted friend that’s been there since I was eleven.”
“I don’t want to hear from those who know. They can buy but can’t put on my clothes.”