Friday, December 31, 2010

Ten Club Changes for 2011

At the 11th hour of 2010, Pearl Jam announces some ... we'll say "interesting" changes to the Ten Club.  Members will surely be split in our thoughts about these changes, but it's hard to say that analog memberships won't be getting more than $20 worth of goodies for the premium price.  It looks like the changes kick in when you renew your membership in 2011.



With Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary year upon us bringing lots of goodies to boot, Ten Club is excited to announce a new option-based fan club experience for your 2011 membership renewal. Starting January 1, 2011 Ten Club will offer two (2) levels of membership -- ANALOG and DIGITAL -- giving you the option to choose the membership format that best suits your lifestyle. While our hard core dedicated ANALOG Level collectors will have even more limited edition annual freebies to add to their archives, our DIGITAL Level members can look forward to the streamlined, paperless, no-postage-necessary, virtual-only experience. Now's the time to dig deep and ask yourself, "Am I Analog or Digital?"



The 2011 renewal option change will not affect your current membership benefits. All memberships purchased in 2010 will keep the same benefits until it's time for your 2011 renewal. At that point, you will get to choose one (1) of these renewal options:




DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP, $20 US / INTL
 
  • Full Website Access
  • PJ Radio Access (Streaming only)
  • Holiday Single MP3
  • Deep Magazine PDF
  • Members-only Contest Eligibility
  • Members-only Merch Discount Events
  • Access to Members-only Merch
  • Access to Fan Club only Ticket pre-sales








ANALOG MEMBERSHIP, $40 US / $50 INTL





 
  • Full Digital Membership
  • Free Bootleg Download (Coupon code included in the renewal confirmation email)
  • Limited Edition Vinyl 45 Holiday Single
  • Limited Edition Hard Copy of Deep Magazine
  • Limited Edition Ten Club T-Shirt (New Design Each Year sent at the Time of Renewal Purchase!)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten Pearl Jam Moments of 2010: Part 2

5. Live From Saturday Night!



In March, Pearl Jam made their fourth appearance on Saturday Night Live. Despite a history of knocking the roof off of 30 Rock, this show featured the band’s most gentle, heartfelt performances to date with Just Breathe:








and Unthought Known:








Fans were also treated to a very quick cameo by the whole band in a skit called “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”










4. Best Friends?



Brad? How did a band other than Pearl Jam make it onto the Top Ten Pearl Jam Moments?



 


Seriously? Who would ask that question? Were you sleeping through 2010? Though no member of Pearl Jam was necessarily down in their down time, Stone Gossard’s band, Brad, worked incredibly hard to fill all the gaps in a Pearl Jam fan’s year.  After the August release of their fourth studio album, Best Friends?, Stone’s riffs could be heard across the Midwest, New York, Seattle, and L.A. All five members of Pearl Jam popped up throughout the year, but Stone and Brad were, by far, the most active in 2010.










3. Of The Earth



Although many fans in the U.S. will cite the show they attended as their personal Pearl Jam highlight of 2010, it was Pearl Jams leap over the pond that garnered the most attention and praise this year. Last December, Pearl Jam announced a fifteen show festival tour across Europe, their first since 2007. What no one really expected was for Pearl Jam to dust off an outtake first mentioned during the "Avocado" recording sessions and debut it during their first show in Europe. If Pearl Jam played any songs other than Of The Earth while in Europe, you’d be hard pressed to prove it. For the weeks following Pearl Jam’s Dublin show our forum and the official forum discussed little else, and my news feed was on fire with headlines about Pearl Jam debuting a new song.








We know that Of The Earth didn’t make the Live on Ten Legs cut. Will it be revisited in the studio? Will it be part of the next album? What about this year’s fan club single? Stay tuned in 2011 to find out.





2. Pearl Jam 24/7



Sure, there were a few of us who had amassed a Pearl Jam collection that would allow us to listen to Pearl Jam non-stop. But now thanks to two announcements in 2010, you no longer need to find space for 20 years worth of bootlegs. In 2010, Pearl Jam announced an on-line all-Pearl Jam, all-the-time radio station accessible via the Ten Club website and a SiriusXM satellite radio station playing non-stop Pearl Jam.





Both stations pull liberally from Pearl Jam’s collection of live performances and play a concert in its entirely on a semi-daily basis (you can find out when here: SiriusXM / Pearl Jam Radio Online).  The Ten Club station seems to be limited to bootlegs, but the SiriusXM station includes "unreleased material from the group's personal music library and side projects, including solo and pre-Pearl Jam music," as well as a weekly call-in show with Ten Club Manager, Tim Bierman, and the on-line station’s DJ, The Rob.



Surely, at some point, even the most hardcore Pearl Jam fan is going to be over exposed to Pearl Jam with nothing else coming out of the radio, but until this year, you never had the tool to test that theory.





1. The Hiatus



This is the end of our last show of the tour … not last forever but last for a long time.” - Eddie Vedder, July 10, 2010








Wait. What? Is Pearl Jam quitting? You could hear the collective jaws of a million Pearl Jam fans hanging open. Well, it should be said that the above statement is a rough translation of a statement made by Eddie reading phonetically spelled Portuguese, and that his publicist, Nicole Vandenburg, did rush to say, “(It's) nothing serious. He says that at the end of all tours, meaning that the tour is over. I think the remarks got a bit lost in translation.”



Buuuuuuuut … we still don’t have any Pearl Jam shows on our calendar. Oh sure, we had a Brad tour, a few Soundgarden shows, and the announcement of a Vedder-only tour of Australia, but we’re still waiting for our next does of Pearl Jam. Even as recently as December 1st, Ed told fans of the All Encompassing Trip call-in show, “Don’t wait on us. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a few things we need to accomplish before we go back and play shows, and do stuff that we’ve already kind of done before,” and that, my friends, was in Ed’s native language.




Pearl Jam - 7.10.10 - Oeiras




What will 2011 bring? It's safe to say the fans want more.  We’re sure to see more reissues of early albums, a documentary by Cameron Crowe, and a tour by Ed. We might see more band member performing with side projects or an Of The Earth EP. But will we see Pearl Jam perform live?



Maybe at least once.



...



Did you miss Part 1?

Missed 2009?
10-6 | 5-1

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Ten Pearl Jam Moments of 2010: Part 1

10. This All Encompassing Trip / From a Basement in Seattle



Even after twenty years, Pearl Jam continues to inspire artists. Along the vein 2010 saw the publication of two great books about the Pearl Jam experience. This All Encompassing Trip, written by blogger Jason Leung chronicles a superfan’s quest to follow Pearl Jam across a continent and across an ocean. Jason tells the true “rock and roll” story of his adventures in the iconic Touring Van.


 


From a Basement in Seattle: The Poster Art of Brad Klausen showcases 70 posters designed by Brad Klausen over the past six years and serves as a great compliment to the Ames Brothers’ poster book released in 2007.



Both books are available for purchase at the following sites:






9. Brett Eliason Returns to the Bootleg Mixing Board






In early November, Pearl Jam announced the impending release of Live on Ten Legs, their second compilation of live material showcasing material from shows between 2003 and 2010. A roar of excitement rose up from fans upon hearing that Brett Eliason, absent from the mixing board for the past seven years, would again be taking the helm.



Live on Ten Legs will be release on January 17, 2011. LP and CD versions can be purchased via the Ten Club, and a deluxe boxed set including mini-posters, photo prints, and a tour laminate is available via Universal Music.







8. Amongst The Waves



When Pearl Jam releases an album, you’re never quite sure whether you’ll get a video or not. Vs., Vitalogy, and No Code left us high and dry, and videos for hit singles have been few and far between since then, but in 2010 Pearl Jam used the release of their third Backspacer video, Amongst the Waves, to launch their environmental activism page. As with everything in the Internet age, fan reviews were all over the map, but any true fan would be lying if they said they weren’t excited about new Pearl Jam material.




Pearl Jam Oceans from Pearl Jam on Vimeo.


 
We also shouldn’t go without noting that Eddie also release a video for Better Days. It’s not the full band, and it’s not really anything more than a movie trailer, but it seems to be part of a larger effort by the men of Pearl Jam to make sure we bump into their music in more and more venues.









7. Better Days Leaks






Back in June, when Kelly Curtis asked Pete [Crosby?] to use the Monkeywrench Records messaging system to share a new Eddie Vedder solo track, titled Better Days, with Gary Westlake, he certainly wasn’t expecting that message to post publicly on the record label’s website. That having happened, he probably wasn’t surprised that it took rabid fans only minutes to notice the error, rip the song, and light the blogosphere on fire with their excitement. It only took fans another couple of hours to put together than Ed had dusted off a Pearl Jam outtake from the Riot Act recording sessions and updated it with his own Into-The-Wild-like style. Later that week, came the announcement that the song would be available as part of the soundtrack for the movie based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat! Pray! Love! staring Julia Roberts.







6. Pearl Jam’s 20th Anniversary



I’d love to bump this into Part 2, but frankly, Pearl Jam kept the anniversary of their first show (October 22, 1990 at the Off Ramp Cafe) largely quiet and seems to have pushed most major celebrations into 2011 (Vs. and Vitalogy reissues, Live on Ten Legs, Cameron Crowe’s documentary). However, that doesn’t make the anniversary a non-event. Pearl Jam marked the even with their 8th appearance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit. Their acoustic sets will probably not be burning up the charts, but fans were drooling over the live debut of Santa Cruz and Other Side as well as Neil Young joining Pearl Jam on stage for a cover from his new album Le Noise, Walk With Me.







Pearl Jam’s anniversary also brought us some fantastic updates in the history that brought us the band. Though not driven by the band themselves, the resulting resources are surely a boon for fans desperate to know more about the band that they love. The first nod to Pearl Jam’s history came this past summer when Universal dusted off a five-year-old documentary about Andrew Wood titled
Malfunkshun. Though our hopes for a tour have not yet come to fruition, fans in Seattle were treated to a showing at Hard Rock Cafe, and it looks like the rest of  us might get to own the DVD this spring.



  


TwoFeetThick dedicated the months of September and October to clearing out the archives with a history of the Mamma-Son demo and Stone’s “Gossman” demos, a review of Temple of the Dog's only live show, an archived Mike McCready interview, and Jessica Letkemann’s labor of love, Music for Rhinos: The Making of Pearl Jam. Not only did this fill some gaps in Pearl Jam history, but they compiled some long-lost resources into one place.



Look for Part 2 on Wednesday!

Missed 2009?
10-6 | 5-1

Friday, December 24, 2010

On A Side Note: Brad's Daytrotter and Fuel TV Performances



Brad recently dropped by The Horseshack to record a Daytrotter Session.  You can download it for free at the Daytrotter website.



1. Intro (Welcome to Daytrotter)

2. Never Let Each Other Down

3. Bless Me Father

4. Price of Love

5. Upon My Shoulders



Also, Fuel.TV has posted Brad's performances of Oh My Goodness and Low from last week's The Daily Habit.













Merry Christmas from Brad!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

LOXL: The Guessing Game

Are you an audiophile who thinks you may know the origin of the Live on Ten Legs tracks previewed on the Universal website?  We could use you're help.





Here's what we know so far.



1. Arms Aloft - Werchter, Belgium, July 4 2010

2. World Wide Suicide

3. Animal


4. Got Some - San Diego, CA, USA, October 9 2009

5. State of Love and Trust - London, England, June 25 2010

6. I Am Mine - Brisbane, Australia, November 10 2006


7. Unthought Known

8. Rearview Mirror - Perth, Australia, November 25 2006

9. The Fixer

10. Nothing As It Seems - Adelaide, Australia, November 22 2006

11. In Hiding - San Francisco, CA, USA, July 18 2006


12. Just Breathe

13. Jeremy


14. Public Image - Venice, Italy, July 6 2010

15. Spin the Black Circle

16. Porch - Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 26 2005

17. Alive

18. Yellow Ledbetter

Monday, December 20, 2010

On A Side Note: R.E.M.'s It Happened Today



R.E.M. has released It Happened Today, the track off of their upcoming album Collapse Into Now that features Eddie Vedder on backing vocals. You can take a listen at Antiquiet.com.  The album is set to release on March 8, 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sirius News: 12/15/2010



This week's episode of All Encompassing Trip (the last of 2010) Tim and The Rob hosted Kathy, JR, and Jessica from TwoFeetThick.com and Matt from Gremmie.net.  I didn't catch any critical Pearl Jam news, but it was a great show about how the fans experience Pearl Jam and Tim played two tracks from the upcoming, Live on Ten Legs.



If you missed it, Gremmie.Net archives AET on Gremmie Radio.



Thanks for the plug, John!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: The End

 This will be the last Guided Tour post of 2010.  Have a great holiday season!  Guided Tour and Meet Your Blogger will return in January! -B




by stip


The End

Since there’s no real narrative to Backspacer we can’t really say our journey ends with The End. It’s more appropriate to say that The End marks the conclusion of an exploration—an investigation into a state of mind. The whole record reflects the culmination of two decades of confrontation, reflection, retreat, and growth, and celebrates the hard won sense of peace, acceptance, commitment and meaning. Parts of Backspacer celebrate the immediacy of now, while others remind us that its sense of perfect freedom is somewhat meaningless in a vacuum—that without context (a sense of how the current moment is earned through past struggles), and without other people to share it with we cannot appreciate, take for granted, and are likely to lose, what we’ve worked so long and hard to achieve. Parts of Backspacer ask us to occasionally surrender to guilty pleasures, silly dreams, and an enchanted world, while other parts of the record remind us that anything worth having requires struggle, commitment, and sacrifice. While the record explores this moment in its totality, it is worth paying close attention to Backspacer’s final message. Pearl Jam chooses their final tracks very deliberately. They almost always encapsulate, if not the theme of the album, then the take away lesson they think is most important. These are not always the albums best song, but they are almost always among the most important. So what does The End ask us to take away from Backspacer?

Musically it is at once the simplest song on the record, and at the same time one of the most beautiful Pearl Jam has ever recorded, with a significant portion of its beauty deriving from its simplicity. Eddie has gotten really good at these graceful finger picking melodies. Unlike Guaranteed or Just Breathe, this one, for all the subtle movement, feels heavy, like it’s carrying the weight of history—but the weight is intimated. It’s implied, rather than forced upon us. It gives The End an understated quality that enables Eddie’s emotive performance (and the strings) to avoid descending into melodrama.

The orchestration does a wonderfully unobtrusive job filling the empty spaces in the song, providing the background images and coloration that makes The End feel like a life lived, not lived in. Each note evokes an image, reminds us of a moment, and encourages us to slide our own memory into that space, to make this the story of our life. There’s some urgency in the music, especially as the song peaks, but there is rarely sadness in the music itself. The bittersweet feel of the song comes from Eddie, not the music. The music is a quiet celebration of a life that, against long odds, found serenity and joy. It is the sound of salvation.

This is probably Eddie’s finest vocal performance on the record, and one of his best to date. It is also noteworthy that this is the case in spite of (or better, because of) the decline in the power of his voice. There’s vulnerability (‘I just want to hold on and know I’m worth your love’/’looking out from inside the bottom of a well’), defiance (‘slide on next to me’) , and empathy, like there’s always been, but it sounds lived in, rich with the quiet wisdom of experience, and the delicate vulnerability and subtle strength of age rather than the raw elemental power of his youth. I’m not sure there’s another Pearl Jam song where Eddie is as invested in every word as he is here. Eddie has always been good at sounding exposed, but there was usually a part of him that pushed back against that exposure—almost like it was involuntary. Here we have the sound of someone who, rather than fight it, hopes to open himself up to that exposure, and learn something from it. So what does he learn?

Lyrically The End is a well written enough, although the power of the song comes from the fusion of delivery, music, and history—the performance and the context—more than the actual words themselves. But, since this is a song, the performance matters, and Eddie makes this convincing.

As I said earlier, The End is not a sad song. At worst it is bittersweet. It is tinged with fear and regret, but it is the fear and regret that comes from finally winning something priceless and realizing that no matter what you do, and no matter how badly you want it, you’re going to lose it. Backspacer celebrates now, but now cannot last forever. Other songs explore how important it is to understand the struggles that led to this moment, so that we can preserve and recreate it. But The End implores us (as does, in its own way, Just Breathe) to recognize how fragile and fleeting this moment is, and so we need to embrace it while we can.

There is a slightly haunted quality to The End, but it approaches this emotion from a different direction than usual. The first few verses (really the entire song) are self-recrimination (what happened to our dreams and plans, what happened to the promises I made, why haven’t I lived up to the expectations I had for myself, why haven’t I been the person for you I always wanted to be— ‘believe I’m better than this’) but the guilt comes from his inability (he blames himself, but it’s not a failure) to fully embrace and experience the gifts of love and a life worth living—he’s not haunted by what he lacks, but by the fact that no matter what he does, no matter how much he commits, it’s simply impossible for him to ever drink it all in. There is a frustrated quality to Eddie’s delivery—now that he finally has everything he ever wanted he’s almost overwhelmed by its power.

We’ve all speculated about whether the singer here is dying, whether this is about guilt due to cigarettes (is The End inspired by his little girl asking him to stop smoking?), and what have you, but I’m not so convinced that this is the case anymore. This isn’t a song about anything so concrete. It’s not about dying, it’s about the abstract fear of dying, of having to leave everything precious behind. It mourns the impossible finality of death and exit because, for the first time, there’s something too precious to contemplate losing that would be left behind. The sickness in his bones is an awareness of his own mortality. The ‘just a human being’ lyric points to his own (unjustifiable, but no less powerful for being unjustifiable) guilt at not being able to live forever, not being able to be there forever for the people at the center of his existence. Pearl Jam’s music has always clinged to the possibility of love as the one light that could stand against the darkness of the world. Now he has it, and he’s grateful for it, but with it comes a whole new set of fears and regrets—the terror of losing it, and the remorse of not fully taking advantage of it. It gets almost frantic towards the end, as he imagines it all growing distant and slipping away—in Speed of Sound there was always the possibility of slowing down, of a distant light drawing nearer. But what happens when the light starts to dim and you know it is for the last time?

Someday, at the end of a long life, there may be such a thing as enough. We are all going to reach the point where we look to the past, rather than the future, for comfort. At that time our thinking may change, but at this point in time there’s no way to answer Eddie’s fears. There’s no comfort to be had. And so there’s a part of us that needs to not think about it. The fear of loss can paralyze us as surely as can the absence of anything worth losing, and we need to surrender to now to avoid being frozen by everything we will never experience and never know. But at the same time we need to make space for this fear, we need to hold onto the enormity of what we have to lose, so that we never take it for granted. We need those reminders sometimes, that even a dark world is full of impossibly precious things. I think that’s the real meaning behind the gasp at the climax of the song—the shock of how much has been given, and how little time we have for it. We need to make time for the past and clear space for the future, but the end draws near, and now is all we have. We had better make the most of it. Backspacer celebrates our being given the chance to do so.



Other songs in this series:

Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story Coming to DVD

Guerillacandy.com is reporting that Universal Music Enterprises plans to release the DVD of Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story, originally released in 2005, on March 15, 2011, a few days shy of the anniversary of Andrew's death.  Apparently, there are plans to release the DVD with a CD of music written by Wood and unreleased Malfunkshun music.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On A Side Note: Brad on Fuel TV

Brad & Friends 4/14/10



BradCorporation reports:





Brad's recent performance on Fuel TV's "The Daily Habit" airs this Thursday, December 16th and Friday 17th.



"The Daily Habit" is telecast weeknights at 9:30pm ET (6:30pm PT) while re-airing later in the evening at 11:30pm ET (8:30pm PT), 12:30am ET (9:30pm PT), 2:30am ET (11:30pm PT), and 3:30am ET (12:30pm PT).



Visit Fuel TV and check local listings for full details.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Force of Nature

by stip


Force of Nature
Force of Nature is a necessary counterpoint to Speed of Sound. If Speed of Sound is a cautionary tale, a warning to slow down and make your peace with the world, Force of Nature is a celebration of a stubborn, unwavering faith that things can change, that if we hold fast to what we believe in we’ll be rewarded with a better world. In some respects these two songs are at odds with each other, but both perspectives are needed (an acceptance of the way things are and a faith that they will get better) for a healthy, meaningful existence. It is really on Backspacer where we finally get this fusion, and Force of Nature is probably the high point of the album precisely because this song embodies the weathered optimism that is always at the core of Pearl Jam’s best music. While I think Pearl Jam intended for The Fixer, Unthought Known, and Amongst the Waves to really be the core of the record it is actually Force of Nature (filtered through the context of the rest of the record) that best captures the emancipatory heart of the record.

Musically this is a deceptively simple song. The main riff is not overly complicated or particularly dramatic, but it is remarkably evocative. The entirety of Force of Nature sounds like a person standing on a widow’s walk or on a shoreline looking upon the horizon, battered and soaked by a storm, but unwilling to give in. You can hear the grim defiance and stubborn hope in the delivery and the music. This is the sound of refusal, of one person willing to stare down vast empty spaces without blinking, to lean into howling winds and perhaps bend, but never break. In this Force of Nature differs from songs like Insignificance or Deep. These are also stormy songs, but musically they focus on the destructive energy of the storm itself. These are songs that emphasis impact. This is a song about endurance, and endurance is not a particularly flashy emotion, and one that may be hard to appreciate until you get swept up into the song itself.

Musically part of me wants a bigger entrance than the song gets, something more explosive in the vein of Deep, but that might have made this song a little too dramatic, and there is an understated toughness to the main riff. It churns along, with the bass and drums pushing rather than propelling. They don’t give Force of Nature legs, but they give it a spine, while the main riff continues to doggedly put one foot in front of the other, and is clearly prepared to do so for as long as it takes. There’s almost something petulant about Mike’s primary counterpoint to the main riff, the sound of the put upon grimace we all have when we’re trapped in the rain and long to be dry, even though we know that it’ll be a long time before we are. It’s not an appealing part in itself, but it is a necessary component of the overall piece. The soundscape is less evocative without it.

Force of Nature is a headphones song. Most atmospheric songs are (and this is an atmospheric song, despite the conventional riff). There are a number of great flourishes throughout the mix that are buried a little deeper than I might preferred, but they’re striking when they fade in and out of your hearing, and it means that every time you hear the song you’re picking up something new (especially in the second verse). The brighter guitar parts pushing through the wind and rain right before the choruses are well done—rays of light peeking through a storm, moments of hope on a lonely vigil. They become more prominent with each chorus as the singer steels himself. Mike’s ‘leads’ in the bridge are great. They sound like flashes of lightning. The atmosphere in this song is terrific, especially because it is so subtle. And while some have called it cheesy, I think Mike’s outro is perfect, its bright chimes pushing through the murk, muted but no less diminished for it. It speaks of hope and optimism and new beginnings and the promises finally fulfilled. It’s simple, but so is the solo at the end of I am Mine, and both are powerful in their simplicity, managing to convey so much with so little.

This is a song about determination and defiance, but it’s also a song about faith, and it may be the finest song they’ve yet written about it. There is an anger to Faithful, and a certainty to it, that FoN lacks. The singer in Faithful has his anger to ground him, and his partner. He has what he needs, as long as he stays true to it (the love and the anger). It’s a love song, albeit a circuitous one. The singer in Force of Nature has nothing but promise. It celebrates refusing to give in when confronted by absence and uncertainty, of never wavering even when everything around you is hostile, when there are no guarantees of victory, when there are no small rewards or mile markers to let you know you’re on the right path. This is the essence of faith. It’s faith in love (and faith in each other) rather than a faith in God, but faith nevertheless. There are elements of Given To Fly to be found here too (which also, in its way, celebrates faith as refusal and defiance) but without the martyrdom. Both songs celebrate sacrifice, but Given to Fly transcends. Force of Nature endures, at least until Mikes outro lifts us out of the storm and carries us to our reward.

Eddie’s vocals capture the feel of the song perfectly. Eddie doesn’t lift us up, but he’s not supposed to. The waves crash down on us here. They don’t’ carry us away. He needs to be a rock. His voice needs to convey refusal (which is like defiance, but weathered and beaten down—unable to lash out but still unwilling to give in). He sounds like he’s been through a war, and he has, but there are notes of pride here too, honoring the fact that even though he’s still a long long way from home he is able to hold his head up and this is no small victory. His performance here is subtle, but very effective—the way his voice slightly lifts up for the ‘somewhere there’s a siren singing’, the way he finds comfort and inspiration in his memories and his faith; or the way he trails off coming out of the chorus, like he’s steeling himself for what he knows is still to come (he does the same thing in the pre chorus, the way he carefully drags out each word). I love how he delivers the ‘makes me ache, makes me shake, is it so wrong for us to think that love can keep us safe’—the slightly exacerbated way he questions an indifferent universe and then answers his own question since something has to respond to the silence (the nature of faith is that you’ll never get an answer and so you need to provide it yourself). These are subtle moments, but this is a subtle song, and they’re no less powerful for being understated, and Eddie deserves credit for turning his new vocal limits into strengths, for allowing craft to substitute for power.

Lyrically this is some of Eddie’s finest work in a long time. The central phrase ‘force of nature’ evokes something wild uncontrollable and eternal—something impossible to stand against, and it’s this impossibility that makes his vigil so moving, his refusal to back down in the face of something he cannot possibly hope to master. In this particular case the force of nature is love, and his determination to stand by and not give up on someone deeply flawed and deeply wounded. The songs imagery speaks of waits and vigils, but he’s not waiting for someone to love him back (this isn’t I Got Shit), but for someone to save themselves (and to let him in so he can help). It’s going to be a difficult journey, and the Alice In Wonderland allusion is effective. There’s no romance here. No grand adventure, no dream someone is just going to wake up from. This is long, hard, thankless work, with no guarantee of a happy ending (again faith)—the ‘no way to save someone who won’t take the rope and just lets go’ lyric gets to the heart of the problem. Do you abandon this person? Do you give up on someone or something that has made it manifestly clear that they do not (maybe even cannot) be saved, or do you stand by them?

The chorus and the remaining verses make clear that you stand by them, even in the face of the impossible demands this places upon you (the storm and shipwreck imagery), but they’ll never make it back if you’re not there to light their way. Someone has to be the beacon. Someone has to make sure the light doesn’t go out. Someone has to have faith. The first chorus captures this beautifully, and is addressed to the person who is lost. When you’re ready to come back, I’ll be here to show you the way.

The second chorus is even better, and one of my favorite lyrical moments in the catalog. This is addressed to an internal audience. He’s signing for himself. The siren’s song drives the listener mad, and his faith is mad. It defies reason. It cannot be explained. But it doesn’t have to be—he just needs to hear it, to hold onto it. He doesn’t need to justify his resolve. He just needs to maintain it. There are moments of doubt, and the crashing bridge witnesses his crisis of faith as he cries out to a cold and indifferent world. “Is it so wrong to think that love can keep us safe?” It’s a more profound question that it first appears, since there’s a lot at stake. Love is more than caring for another person. It is more than how you feel about someone else, or even yourself. Love is safety. Love is shelter against a storm, love is the baseline that makes all futures possible. Without it we have nothing but ourselves trapped in a hostile, disenchanted universe. Should we give up on it, even when love is little more than faith in the possibility of love, and when leaving ourselves open leaves ourselves incredibly vulnerable? Love is risk, after all. The world doesn’t answer (the world never does), and so he has to answer himself

There’s a brief lull in the music and the storm starts up again, but we see him still standing there. He refuses to move. His faith endures, and the outro rewards us with a happy ending, although we don’t know whether the object of his love heals and returns to him, or if the faith is its own reward. It’s a better ending that way.



Other songs in this series:

On a Side Note: More Ed Shows

Sorry, Perth, still none for you.



10 March            QPAC Concert Hall                        Brisbane, QLD

12 March            QPAC Concert Hall                        Brisbane, QLD

13 March*          QPAC Concert Hall                       Brisbane, QLD

15 March            Royal Theatre                                Canberra, ACT

16 March            Civic Theatre                                  Newcastle, NSW

18 March            State Theatre                                  Sydney, NSW

19 March            State Theatre                                  Sydney, NSW

20 March*          State Theatre                                 Sydney, NSW

24 March            Palais Theatre                                Melbourne, VIC

25 March            Palais Theatre                               Melbourne, VIC

27 March            Thebarton Theatre                        Adelaide, SA

Sirius News: 12/8/2010



A couple of tidbits dropped by Kelly Curtis on fan call in show, All Encompassing Trip, last night:

  • Kelly Curtis is not a chick.
  • He and Pearl Jam are considering some kind of US activity this summer in the form of a festival-ish-type thing.
  • Mike McCready is scoring an upcoming documentary about Lance Armstrong.
  • Jeff Ament has a project with members of Kings X coming out soon.
  • The Rock Band project is on hold indefinitely due to lukewarm receptions for the last few Rock Band games.
If you missed it, go by Gremmie.Net to catch the show.  There was all kinds of good minutiae about how touring and recording decisions get made.

On a Side Note: Soundgarden's Live Album?



Despite my doubt about the dubious claim that Soundgarden is Seattle's greatest band, I checked out the article in the December issue of Guitar World Magazine.  Buried in page seven of a seven page article is a mention that Matt's working with the live recordings of Soundgarden's last tour.  It's barely a blip, but with our favorite drummer at the helm the first live Soundgarden album promises to be face melting.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8: Brad in L.A.


On a Side Note: Jack Irons in Drum Magazine

This month's issue of Drum Magazine features an interview with Jack Irons.





Here are some choice tidbits that relate to his leaving Pearl Jam.





Jack:



When I left Pearl Jam in '98, I wasn't in a good place. Honestly, the way I felt, the last thing on my mind was music. Music is, I believe, something you do when you're feeling strong. I pretty much had to kind of give up my career to get my life together.



...



I just wasn't well enough to carry on. You've got to be fairly healthy go play for 15, 20, 30,000 people four or five times a week. You can't start to come unglued. There's thousands and thousands of people counting on you to do your job and to do it well. I just couldn't at the time.



...



When I was diagnosed [with bi-polar disorder] back in my twenties they said, 'when you get to your forties you might be able to turn a corner with this kind of thing.' And I think that's very accurate. I had to learn to decipher sort of what was real and what was in my head. And that took time.




Eddie Vedder:



As upsetting as it was at the time - it's not like I could have more respect for the guy - but I've always respected that decision. Because it's one thing to be completely devoted to music and feel it in an organic way and to be pure about it. And then it's another to be in a big band playing big shows and big tours and big records. And working with the machinery of rock and roll, and keeping a big band afloat business-wise, and all that. It's a balancing act, those two things. And it's completely understandable if it seems difficult for someone who's so purely dedicated to the art to have a hard time with the other side.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On a Side Note: Brad on Jimmy Kimmel

Tune in to ABC tonight at 12:05am to catch Brad's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!



Monday, December 6, 2010

Meet Your Blogger: Gremmie.Net


 
ON-LINE PERSONA: Gremmie


WEBSITE: http://www.gremmie.net/


Gremmie.net was developed for the purpose of bringing hard to find and out of print pearl jam to the fan community.


REAL NAME: Matt


LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York, USA


DAY JOB: Hedge Fund Risk Analyst



FAVORITE ALBUM:
 

To me it’s more like average favorite album because it changes every-so-often. On average, my favorite album is Vs.; that Backspacer is a creeper though.


FAVORITE SONG(S):
It depends on the week. At the moment it’s [Original: Johnny Guitar] and [Cover: You Can Close Your Eyes].



FAVORITE BAND MEMBER:
Anyone but Stone. Growing up, my friend Rob Salom - who introduced me to Pearl Jam at age 10 – and I developed an irrational disdain for Stone Gossard. Maybe it was the glasses, maybe it was that he looks like a hippie lawyer. Whatever the reason, it’s stuck. The irony is that I ended up meeting him in Barcelona during college. Stone and his then-girlfriend were touring Gaudi’s La Sagrada Família before the 5/25/00 show at Palau St. Jordi. He was a pleasant, if unassuming fellow, and his girlfriend was lovely (apparently she was the inspiration for Thin Air). Still, Rob Salom may have been onto something; Stone had shifty eyes.


HOW MANY SHOWS HAVE YOU ATTENDED? 
25 or thereabouts


HOW EXTENSIVE IS YOUR PEARL JAM COLLECTION?
www.gremmie.net, my collection is as big as yours.


WHAT WAS YOUR GREATEST PEARL JAM EXPERIENCE?  
The line at Tower Records in 2006, waiting for tickets to the secret show at Irving Plaza. Thirty-eight hours we waited on a dirty East 4th Street to buy Avacado. See, each person received a ticket to the secret show with purchase of the album. Imagine over 500 hard-core fans (and a few squatters) huddled together overnight in the late Spring cold, counting the minutes until midnight. Between the Krispy Kreme doughnuts hand delivered to us by Clive Davis (yes, THAT Clive Davis), and the endless stream of what ifs (“What if the band got into a battle royale? Would anyone be able to fell the giant Boom?”), you get to know people pretty well. You make good friends. You laugh about esoteric bullshit. The show was great, but the waiting was better.


IS THERE A SPECIFIC LYRIC THAT MOVES YOU?  
The Fixer literally moves me during the chorus as I throw my hands in the air in-sync to the “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” Figuratively I’m keen on, “I wish I was a radio song, the one that you turned up…” [Wishlist].






WHAT ELSE IS ON YOUR IPOD RIGHT NOW?
Stevie Wonder, Soul Coughing, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I have a few episodes of Sports Night too.


WHEN YOU WALK AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Cooking.


WHAT PASSIONS DO YOU HAVE BEYOND PEARL JAM?
I love to cook and bake (honest). I make a peach/blueberry pie that’ll change your life. I have been boxing at an amateur level for a few years. I’m also in 2 bands at the moment (one cover, one original). These three things occupy most of my time. Also, the Jets. The god-damn-Jets.


WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I. The original holds up better than you’d expect. Also Mystery Science Theater, Mike or Joel.


WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING BLOGGERS, TWEETERS, AND/OR WEBMASTERS?
If you have a good idea, don’t procrastinate – just get working! No one likes an imagination without execution.




OTHER BLOGGERS IN THIS SERIES
KathyTFT, TwoFeetThick.com
Donny, All That's Sacred
Jason Leung, This All Encompassing Trip
Jed, Twitter.com/DirtyFrankDahmr
Matt, Gremmie.net
Stip, The SkyIScrape.com
Victor Nogales, PJCollectors.com

Goods Section: IAMBROKE

Today only, Pearl Jam is offering 20% off all items (except memberships) in their Goods Section with the code "IAMBROKE."  It's unclear if you must be a Ten Club member or not.



December 6: Brad in Seattle

 Sorry I missed yesterday!



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Guided Tour of Backspacer: Speed of Sound

by stip


Speed of Sound

I am not sure I’ve ever had as much trouble getting a handle on a Pearl Jam song as much as I do with Speed of Sound. The fact that the demo--so very different from the studio version-- was released first complicates things. People may prefer the Gone demo to the version on S/T (I prefer the S/T version myself, but I don’t enjoy either song all that much) but they are still basically the same song. The full band version fleshes out the logic of the demo—whether or not you like the final product it still makes sense. The full band version of speed of sound utterly transforms the mood and feel of the original.

Usually I talk about the music before the lyrics, as the music provides the background for the story the song tells, but I’m going to discuss the lyrics first. We need a clear sense of what Eddie was trying to do with Speed of Sound before we can figure out whether he was successful.

Lyrically this song is a gem—some of Eddie’s best writing in years (this song alongside Force of Nature is Eddie’s best 1-2 lyrical punch since Given to Fly -> Wishlist). It may help to think of Speed of Sound as an older, still unsettled but somehow more mature version of Off He Goes. Both songs are about trying to stay grounded in the middle of an oversized, overwrought life—the desire to hold onto the core of who you are against the howling pressures of the rest of the world. Off He Goes is not a song about fame. It’s autobiographical, but we all have to struggle to retain our integrity and our sense of self against what the world throws at us. We all fight the same war, even if our particular battles are different. But there’s a tentative quality to Off He Goes—not tentative in that he’s unsure of the outcome, but tentative as if he’s not necessarily comfortable raising the questions, or sure how to think about it. When I say that Off He Goes is immature I mean that it’s really a first attempt at coming to grips with how to survive in a world that really insists on making survival difficult, and it reflects the confusion, uncertainty, occasional overwroughtness and awkward hesitation that accompanies our first pass at these questions.

Speed of Sound approaches these same questions a decade later from an older, perhaps wiser, certainly more experienced and confident perspective (you can have confident uncertainty). Like Just Breathe, The End, and parts of Amongst the Waves and Force of Nature, it asks us to slow down and reflect. Much of Backspacer asks us to let go of the past and celebrate the moment of experience, something fairly unique in Pearl Jam’s catalog and the source of the album’s energy and abandon. But this is a Pearl Jam record, and Pearl Jam is far too self aware, too externally focused, to live in this moment forever. A song like Speed of Sound (and the others I mentioned) remind us that we will have to come down, and that if we want to hold onto part of the perfect immediacy of now we need to figure out how to make the present come to grips with the past and the future, to celebrate what we have now while recognizing how fragile, precious , and dependent that gift is. This is the story of Backspacer as a whole—no one song tries to capture that entire experience—and so Speed of Sound needs to be understood as playing a particular, concrete roll in the overall album arc. Inverting its name, it tries to slow us down. It warns us that if you only live right now you’ll lose sight of the things that made ‘now’ possible.

The song starts regretting how delicate and fragile the past is, how hard it is to find stability and permanency in a world that changes so fast and sweeps us up alongside it even as we change with it (moving at AND with the speed of sound—simultaneously subject and object). The chorus is hopeful and regretful at the same time. The singer keeps fixed in his mind his dream of distant light—of warmth, peace, illumination, belonging, and there’s no sense of surrender in the song (there is a certain sad sense of futility in Off He Goes—like we know how the story is going to end and so we might as well make our peace with it), but there IS a weariness to it. Not exhaustion, mind you—Backspacer is not Riot Act—but instead a grim awareness of just how long we sometimes have to float through dark empty spaces waiting for the sun.

The lyrics get a little urgent as he explores his inability to come to grips with his momentum. It’s an important verse: “Can I forgive what I cannot forget and live a lie. I could give it one more try.” There’s a sense in which his speed comes from his refusal to accept that the world he lives in is imperfect, and that it always will be. Acceptance is not the same thing as surrender (you can accept the way the world is while still trying to change it) but he cannot come to grips with that. It rings false. He feels guilty—like moments of serenity, calm, acceptance are unworthy of him—like he’s selling out a life long struggle. The problem is the hand wringing, the angst, the defiance, the anger fuel him but at the same time they push him further and further away from the peace he’s so desperate to find. The struggle for a perfect peace makes imperfect peace (all we’re probably capable of in an imperfect world) impossible.

The gravity of his situation, the way in which he feels trapped, the way in which he finds himself imprisoned by the same principles and commitments that are able to set him free, catches up with him in the final, confused verses. He hears a voice and reaches out to it, the promise of stability, fulfillment and security in an uncertain world, but he doesn’t know if what he’s trying to grab onto is real or not, whether he’s worthy of it or not, and in his own uncertainty, his reluctance to accept (not surrender, accept—again this is a key difference) he misses his window. He finds himself alone, isolated, moving too fast to commit to the rest of the world around him.

In the end Speed of Sound is a cautionary tale, and probably the darkest moment on the record. Speed of Sound warns us of what will happen if we cannot dial back our war against the world, if we cannot realize that we should change the things we can change and make our peace with what we cannot—even as we work to change the context that makes the possible impossible. We have to learn to accept that there are limits to what we are capable of (the wisdom of the old) even as we refuse to surrender the passion of youth that makes all things possible. The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. Utopia cannot be the enemy of happiness. Ours is an imperfect world, a dark world, but not lacking in moments of light that are all the brighter for the surrounding darkness. To that end, Force of Nature probably has to follow Speed of Sound, since it affirms what Speed of Sound can only say through negation.

It’s a heady song, and captures in important ways the intellectual journey the band has been on for the last 17 years. It requires the previous records to give it context, but when that context is there Speed of Sound says a great deal. So let’s see how this vision translated.

The Demo:

Eddie sounds great here, his voice delicate, floating along on the ups and downs of the vocal melody. Although there is no water imagery here, the performance paints the picture of a man carried out to see by a tide he’s too tired to resist, but not so defeated that he cannot look backwards with longing towards where he came from. This is one of the most wistful songs Eddie’s ever written and it showcases the weathered quaver in his voice that he uses to replace the power he’s lost over the year. His Bruce Springsteen influence is on display here—not in the lyrics, but in the delivery and the melody. I can easily see this song appearing on Nebraska or Devils and Dust. The double tracked vocals, especially towards the end, give the song a sense of urgency during the climax, the high part sounding running away while the lower register keeps him grounded—straining for the shore even as he makes his peace with the tides that carry him away. There is a starkness to the music that is simultaneously cold and warm, stark and full—as if you’re floating through an empty space but you have old memories to keep you from freezing and fill the void (I hear space alongside water). The plaintive, straining guitar notes that punctuate the song give the song a mature sadness that comes from reflecting on the failures of a life lived. Most of Eddie’s demos that we’ve heard (think Man of the Hour, Small Town, Gone) feel, to a greater or lesser extent, incomplete. The Speed of Sound demo, on the other hand, is complete the way it is—in fact there’s a very real risk that weighing it down with more music will destroy the sense of starkness, distance, and cold warmth that the song depends on.

Full Band:

And oh man, do they add more music. I wonder if Speed of Sound was sacrificed so that The End might live. I said earlier that this song reminds of Springsteen’s Nebraska, which was a record of demos that Springsteen decided to release. He definitely brought this one in for the E-Street Band. The music is actually pretty interesting. The problem is that, even moreso than the Supersonic solo, it is really poorly matched up with the song they added it to. For people who want more experimental Pearl Jam, this IS experimental pearl jam. There’s an alt-country feel to this one that they rarely play with, guitar tones they don’t use, and I actually like how it sounds. It’s spacey, pretty, rich, and has a hidden sing-songy quality to it that they manage to keep hidden without ruining the appeal. But it doesn’t match up to the song. I don’t know whether it’s faster than the demo, but it feels faster, and way too crowded. This is a song that demands quiet spaces for reflection, and here Eddie (who sounds good here, even though this song showcases him less than almost any other song on Backspacer) is struggling to think over the noise and the clatter. It makes some sense as an approximation for the subdued and reluctant alienation in the lyrics—the purpose behind the speed of sound lyric is not to necessarily convey speed (as a fast song might) but a lack of focus—unable to get perspective because everything around you is out of focus, a blur. The music pulls that off, although it’s probably too pretty for the subject matter. But still, had I not heard the demo I suppose I’d be satisfied with this. It would be imperfect, the same way that Unthought Known and Amongst the Waves are imperfect, but the song would make sense. However, the original presentation of Speed of Sound, reflections in a void rather than straining against a pleasant sensory overload, is so much more powerful that I cannot help but feel disappointed.

Speed of Sound ends the dip in Backspacer. You have a four song stretch of good ideas, vital to the arc of the record but imperfectly (or in some cases poorly) realized. It’s this block that keeps Backspacer out of the top tier of Pearl Jam records, but the album rallies magnificently for the final stretch of songs and the strongest finish to a Pearl Jam record since Vitalogy, and arguably of any of their albums.



Other songs in this series: