Monday, February 28, 2011

Guided Tour of Vitalogy: Bugs

Flip to the page on Bugs in the Vitalogy songbook and you’ve got a great big picture of a cockroach, and that’s it. Not the most subtle moment in the booklet, but Bugs is not a very subtle song.

Bugs is a difficult song to listen to at times, at least casually. It’s a wry, sarcastic spoken word piece accompanied by an out of tune accordion and percussion that sounds like someone stepping across a field of swarming roaches.

In some ways it’s a depressing piece to follow the tentative, but somehow triumphant, Corduroy. Bugs is a song of descent, of gradual surrender, and takes back the progress and momentum of the previous song.

In this song it seems pretty clear (to me anyway) that the Bugs are meant to symbolize the music industry and the intrusive celebrity culture that is so destructive of art, authenticity, and even life, but the bugs can represent any force that’s hostile to those principles. Bugs are a good choice of metaphor for Eddie to use for this piece. They are faceless, identical, amoral, and have an inexorable sense of inevitability about them (waiting…waiting…). They only want to feed themselves and expand and care nothing for how they affect the lives of those they need to feed off of (flashbacks to Rats are not inappropriate here). There are too many to kill, to many to reason with., and in the end there is no choice left but to give in. He never fully does, as Bugs is immediately followed by Satan’s Bed, the last moment of real resistance on the record, but you leave Bugs wondering just how long the subject is going to be able to keep fighting back against a foe, an industry, a trend, a collection of social values so much more powerful than he is—especially if he remains alone, one man staring down the swarm.

Beyond the thematic fit there is something powerful about Bugs as a statement. While the presence of the accordion and music like this is less impactful after discovering an artist like Tom Waits, including a song like this on a record from one of the best selling bands in the world is a wonderful fuck you gesture and artistic statement directed at an industry that habitually takes whatever innovative art they can fine and distributes bastardized clones as quickly as they can be assembled. It is a declaration that there is something intangible at work here, that there is a core to the music that cannot be copied, duplicated, or even defined, and a refusal to be a party to any attempt at doing so.



Phoenix Coyotes' Jason LaBarbera

Looks like Pearl Jam has a fan in the Phoenix Coyotes' goalie, Jason LaBarbera.  His helmet from last season, featured in In Goal Magazine, features a friend of ours.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tres Mountains at South By Southwest

It appears as though Tres Mountains has added a show at Stubbs in Austin, Texas for March 19th.  Enjoy the show, everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sirius News: 2/23/2011

This week's guests were John, Jessica, and Kathy from TwoFeetThick.  No "news" to report, but it was a great show about collecting memorabilia.   Some great stories including a fan with a copy of Ten signed by Mookie Blalock.

As always, if you missed it, Gremmie.Net archives episodes of All Encompassing Trip for your on-demand enjoyment.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All That's Sacred, Episode #76

We haven't had any guests on the podcast since before the hiatus. With the Team McCready Global Event right around the corner, I asked friend and organizer, Lisa Cressman, to join me on ATS to discuss this event inspired by our favorite axeman.

Additionally, we explore some of Mike's tastiest licks through his work with Pearl Jam and various side projects. If you own a bucket, you probably want to go grab it and hold it underneath your chin because ATS #76 might just melt your face off!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time to Plant Trees in Seattle

If you can make it to Hartman Park in Seattle on March 5th, you can help Pearl Jam offset the carbon footprint left by their 2009 tour.  I wish I could tell you for sure that Pearl Jam would be there, but I'm not sure. certainly implies as much.  Regardless, would it kill you to go plant a few trees?

Official Pearl Jam Band Photos

Pearl Jam will hold a restoration event to encourage fans to plant trees at Hartman Park between 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on March 5th, 2011 to offset the carbon emissions that accumulated from their 2009 world tour.
“Pearl Jam’s 2009 world tour emitted 7,000 metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere and the only way to offset this is by planting trees,” said by a Seattle tree service specialist in a conversation. “However, if Pearl Jam will do all of this by themselves, it will probably take forever.” 
That’s the reason why the popular band is looking for volunteers to help them out. So far there are 100 volunteers who have already signed up for the event.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Guided Tour of Vitalogy: Corduroy

(A Guided Tour: Vitalogy)


Corduroy is the high point of the record, the climax if you’re looking for a happy ending, and the start of the descent into Immortality if you aren’t. It’s also (I think) the most important song in Pearl Jam’s catalogue—their mission statement, if you can put it in those terms. As such there is much more going on here than a diatribe against fame, and limiting it to that does the song (and a great injustice. 

The Vitalogy booklet offers us a few subtle clues about the song. It’s significant that it shares a page with Pry, to, as the former is essentially the introduction to Corduroy, the passage on nightmares the reality that Corduroy confronts and attempts to transcend. All we have for Corduroy is a picture of Eddie’s teeth, all in bad shape and, as he said in the interview a few pages back, “analogous to my head at the time”. In the same interview he calls it a relationship song but the relationship between an individual and a mass public, an individual who opens himself up for others, and in the process of that exposure loses his humanity. Is that the inevitable price of being an artist, of following a muse? Does it have to end in the exploitation of the artist and the commodification of his work? These are questions running throughout the album, but Corduroy is where they all come together.

The pages that surround Corduroy are worth looking at too. There is the discussion of ‘self-pollution’ and while this is obviously not a song worried about the evils of masturbation, it is worried about the pollution of the soul, of the ways in which we miss how seemingly pleasurable behaviors and experiences gnaw at our humanity and sense of self until we are left, without realizing it, as a shell of the human being we had originally set out to be. The following page has a few paragraphs on the sanctity of child birth, the crime that comes from bringing unwelcome children into the world, the importance of being grounded and at peace before you begin creation, the value of self-knowledge, knowing who you are, where you are going, and why you want to be there. The parallels between these questions and the importance of authenticity and meaningful creation that run through the record should not be too hard to spot.

This section of the booklet ends with Eddie reflecting on the discovery of a dead child, abandoned in a ladies room trash can. There is no judgment in his story, only hope that the soul of the child gets another shot at life, and sympathy for a young girl, alone and in pain, trapped without having anywhere else to go, or anyone else to lean on. No one can face what the girl has to face for her, but someone could have been there to hold her while she does it. These themes will play themselves out during the course of the song.

And of course there is the story of the corduroy jacket—Eddie getting them cheap and then seeing them sold many many times over once he became famous—the jacket symbolic of the problems with image, the artificially of celebrity, the creation of meaningless connections (that dressing like someone famous establishes a meaningful bond) that supplant the real ones.

Corduroy opens with its slow, ominous build, tentative at first but building in power (as if the music is steeling itself for a fight) that crashes into the first verse and its provocative opening lines, delivered with a weary defiance. You wait your entire life for your dreams to come true, but what happens if they arrive tainted? What happens if, by realizing them, you end up losing yourself? You’re left with no choice but to reject everything you ever wanted in the hopes of personal salvation. It’s a devastating step to have to take, but that’s the price the subject is forced to pay. And so Corduroy is a song about purging yourself of those corrupted dreams, of freeing yourself so you can start over. And the details are vague enough (as it the entire record) so that the listener can read their own struggles, their own demons, into the lyrics and the music. 

And so moving into the second verse the process of rejection and emancipation begins. The ‘rewards’ that come with playing the game, with subjecting your art and your person to the forces that dehumanize it in the name of profit are simply not worth it. Better to walk than run on their track, better to starve than be forced to subsist on the food they feed you. Better solitude and authentic isolation than the fake intimacy that comes from millions of people knowing the image of you that’s been created and mistaking it for the real thing, burying you in the process.

In the third verse we move back into the Sysphisian/Camusian language of struggle for its own sake. The singer is engaged in a battle with himself, to restore his own humanity, and this will come not from beating your foe, but from rejecting and resisting him. And there is the reminder (he’ll come back to this later) that even if the act is by necessity one you have to engage in alone, you are not the only person in the world dissatisfied with the artificial superficiality of our culture and the way it is destructive of authenticity and meaning. There are others fighting back too (we saw this in Whipping, the way the language moves from personal endurance to a collection of individuals engaged in the same fight)

The song continues with its laundry list of rejection. There is a call to trust your own eyes, your own experiences, your own intuition rather than accept what you’re told. No one else can and should tell you how to live your life or define what matters to you. Their values, regardless of how seductive they may be, need not be yours. It is your humanity that they are trying to buy, and we can never lose sight of the fact that the costs that must be paid will have to be paid by you in the end, and the real you—the one that existed before fame, before the temptation, before the creation of that artificial construct posing as you. The language becomes the language of the slave (or the martyr depending on how charitable you want to be). There is a willingness, almost an insistence, to suffer physically if through that suffering, through that resistance, there is a chance to restore your humanity. Cut up and half dead, paying debts in blood, all in an attempt to find some kind of reset, to turn back the clock—to end up alone like he began. On the surface it sounds like a defeat, but at least once alone he can begin to restore his own humanity, to be a person he is rather than the thing he had become…

We move into the plaintive bridge. Everything has chains, absolutely nothing’s changed. The freedom is illusory—the costs are still there. There is a recognition that life is always going to be a constant struggle to preserve your authenticity, your soul, and your self from the larger forces that will spend the rest of your life alternately seducing you or bludgeoning you into submission. But there is that moment of solidarity that is so important in Pearl Jam’s music—that sense that even if this struggle is ultimately a personal one, one we have to engage in alone, we do not have to be alone while we do it. The world is full of people facing the same demons, fighting the same fights, and they are a source of strength. That’s the power of music, what Eddie fears is being lost and what Vitalogy is in part an effort to save—music’s ability to bridge the distances between people, to restore that sense of solidarity. At its best music reminds us that we are never really alone—that we are part of a shared community and that music is the language that unites us. The artist is a part of this process, but the reward comes not from the money or the fame, but from the chance to be a part of the creation of meaning. When we forget that the music loses its power and the artist loses his soul.

And the lyrics finish with this declaration of emancipation—the realization that what is most valuable in life is the freedom that comes from authenticity, and that if we are willing to suffer for it, to fight for it, this cannot be taken away from us. Our freedom can be given up, but it cannot be stolen. And so the lyrics conclude with the realization that while he has to fight the battle alone, as long as he is willing to fight, he’s already won.
This is where the outro music leaves us. It’s the sound of a bitter, difficult, struggle, but at the same time there is a gritty sense of triumph to it. Since then (live) Corduroy has become an independence day celebration, rather than a declaration of war against long odds, because we know how the story ends—or at least that the worst is over and we’ve come through it. But the studio version lacks that celebratory tone because the fight is just beginning (we see this with Alive too) and the happy ending is a long way away, if it even comes at all.



Red Mosquito T-Shirts!

I want to formally apologize to all of you who had t-shirt orders cancelled.  Even through any resemblance to persons living or dead was purely coincidental, the design made Zazzle a little uncomfortable.  Instead we bring to you our official Red Mosquito Forum t-shirts.  The design, by forum member, bizarro-low_light79, was voted on by forum members last year.  The original design was two-sided, but since that drives up the price a little, we've made two one-sided options.

We've also put the design on stickers and buttons, and still have stickers, buttons, and a mug with an alternative forum design.  We hope you enjoy, and remember, all royalties support the server costs at the forum.  We're not an officially registered 501c, but I assure you, no profit is to be had hosting a rock music fan forum.

Ten in the Top Ten

Rolling Stone recently release a top ten list of the best albums of the 1990s.  Coming in at #3 (and there are worse things than coming in behind OK Computer and Nevermind) was Ten.  Presumably, this is the original version, not the Brendon O'Brien remix.

Here's the full list for your critique.

1. Nirvana -- 'Nevermind'
2. Radiohead -- 'OK Computer'
3. Pearl Jam -- 'Ten'
4. U2 -- 'Achtung Baby'
5. Oasis -- '(What's the Story) Morning Glory'
6. Smashing Pumpkins -- 'Siamese Dream'
7. Metallica -- 'Metallica'
8. Jeff Buckley -- 'Grace'
9. Smashing Pumpkins -- 'Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness'
10. Guns N'Roses -- 'Use Your Illusion 1 & 2'

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pearl Jam to Reissue Immortality Single?

File this under "Very Poorly Supported Rumor," but the UK Record Store Day website lists an  Immortality/Rearviewmirror seven inch on their Exclusive Vinyl page.  Could we see a new release of this classic single?

In the meantime, you can check out Rearviewmirror in the latest trailer for MLB 2K11!

Vs./Vitalogy Teaser

Just a little to get you excited ...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sirius News: 2/16/2011

Today's guest was Matt Cameron and Jeff Ament (That's "Ay-ment.") dropped in for a few minutes as well.  I just picked up a couple of notes on facts that we did not previously know, but I highly recommend having a listen, Matt's stories and insights into Pearl Jam and music in general shouldn't be missed, plus they played Need To Know, Matt's demo for The Fixer.
  • Soundgarden has been working on new music since December and is recording right now.  Any Soundgarden plans will be made with respect to Pearl Jam's schedule.
  • Pearl Jam got together and played demos for each other in May 2010 and are about to get together again to listen to some more.
  • The band loves, Of The Earth, but haven't been able to make it fit in the last two albums.  Don't give up hope for Pearl Jam's Tenth Album.
  • No, chances are not good for a new Temple of the Dog album.
As always, if you missed it, Gremmie.Net archives episodes of All Encompassing Trip for your on-demand enjoyment.

Scratch That! No Green River Album.

A couple of retractions this morning.  It seems that the post on the Green River MySpace page that we reported on yesterday has been deleted and replaced with a new announcement.

This page under new management
The person who was taking care of this "official" page is no longer running it as of today.  Should any recording, shows, tours, etc. actually be in the works we will let you know.  As opposed to the prior blog there are no such plans at this time.  Until then, take care.


Sadly, it looks like we won't be seeing a new Green River album this year.

Just to add to the mea culpas ... I was fairly certain that the Malfunkshun video I posted yesterday was not footage from Scott Barbour's documentary, and I pretty much said so, but it looks like after several fans assumed that the fan-made video was, actually, his movie, Scott felt the need to clarify as well.

To clarify, the piece I just posted here is not part of the Documentary that I made about Andrew, it's just a short that I found that details a bit of the influence Andy's role had on the music industry that came to follow him. It's a nice perspective, and an area my Doc really doesn't go into all that much, so I liked it and thought I'd share.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Patagonia Music Collective

TwoFeetThick caught the news that clothing company, Patagonia, will be launching the Patagonia Music Collective on March 1st at (don't bother, it's not there yet), and Pearl Jam is one of the artists donating tracks.  

The collective will begin with 24 tracks selling for $.99 to benefit the environment, and each week, they'll add four more.  No word yet on when to look for your exclusive Pearl Jam track, but it's coming!

Malfunkshun Movie Update

A twelve-minute history lesson has popped up on the Malfunkshun Facebook page.  I haven't seen the movie yet, so unfortunately, I can't tell you if this is footage from The Andrew Wood Story or not.  We're still waiting on a DVD release date, and the page also touts the coming of posters and a website redesign.  Keep your eyes and ears open, 2011 is quickly turning into 1988.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Soundgarden to Green River, "Eat Your Heart Out!"

As if we didn't know, Soundgarden has announced their plans to release a new album in 2011.

Over the past few months, we've been busy jamming, writing and hanging out together - exploring the creative aspect of being Soundgarden. It feels great. We have some cool new songs that we are going to record very soon. Thank you for all of the support!

Loudest of Love,

Ben, Chris, Kim, and Matt

New Material from Green River

Green River - 11/29/08

With this post on Myspace (or is it My _____), Green River appears to becoming the fifth Pearl Jam side project (Ed, Tres Mts, Flight to Mars, and Soundgarden to date) in action for 2011, and we don't even have official word on that Brad-South-American-Europe Tour yet!

New Recording In the Works?
The other day some of the guys got together to trade new riffs for new Green River songs to possibly record. They are still in the early stages, but the songs seem to be in the up-tempo scale of things at the moment. We'll see how it all goes as it all smooths out.

A Possible Mudhoney / Green River Split Single?
There has been an offer for Mudhoney to do a 7-inch single which may actually turn out to become a split Mudhoney / Green River 7-inch.

And, of course, there has been a push on for them to play more shows.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed on all of this!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flight to Mars at the Showbox, April 8th

Flight to Mars

Mike's UFO cover band is coming to the Showbox at the Market for their annual fundraiser benefiting CCFA.  Tickets go on sale this Saturday.

Guided Tour of Vitalogy: Pry, To


On the surface it as cute, jaunty little jam, seemingly thrown off. But Ed’s call for privacy, muted the entire time, becomes increasingly desperate until this turns into an urgent claustrophobic call for help. The casual air of the music obscures the real sense that the walls are closing in

The liner notes for pry, to are particularly telling in this regard.


In this disease the patient, in time of sleep, imagines he feels an uncommon oppression or weight about his breast or stomach, which he can by no means shake off. He groans, and sometimes cries out though oftener he attempts to speak in vain. Sometimes he imagines himself engaged with an enemy and, in danger of being killed, attempts to run away, but finds he cannot. Sometimes he fancies himself in a house that is on fire, or that he is in danger of being drowned in a river. He often thinks he is falling over a precipice, and the dread of being dashed to pieces suddenly awakens him.

So the call for privacy, for peace and space to clear your head, is speaking to a powerful sense of dread, not just the whining of a famous cry baby. This song helps establish the frame of mind and mood for Immortality, at the climax of the record.

And then of course there is the ‘play pry,to backwards moment, where you can hear Eddie chanting something along the lines of ‘Peter Townsend how you saved my life.’ The fact that this message is hidden is significant. Music, once an immediate form of escape and release, is perverted, taken from him, its healing properties now buried, hidden, difficult to extract

Pry, To is one of the reasons why I have some issues with Whipping’s placement on the record. There is some need to relieve the tension from the Tremor Christ/Nothingman run of songs, but the strides that are made are immediately lost in Pry, to. It cheapens them in a way, especially since Pry, to is such a short piece and it moves immediately into Corduroy. Plus the segue from Nothingman’s sad silence into Pry, To works well musically, and taking out whipping makes Corduroy, the centerpiece and probably the most important song on the record, even more cathartic as it comes without the temporary reprieve granted from Whipping. However, the A Side/B Side division, which does not come up on CD, could be a factor here. It's possible they wanted to end the A-side on a note of defiance, with Pry, to serving as more of a reprise, a 'previously on Vitalogy' moment before Corduroy.

So Pry, to is the first of the ‘filler tracks’. Is that a fair label? I don’t think so—certainly not here at any rate. Pry, to never makes any of my mixes—but I think it is pretty clear that it plays an important role in ratcheting up the tension before Corduroy, a reminder of what is at stake that makes its message of resistance all the more powerful.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guided Tour of Vitalogy: Whipping

by stip

Whipping is one of the outlier songs on Vitalogy, around the level Betterman or Nothingman. Connections can be made, but it isn’t immediately obvious what its relationship is to the broader themes of the record.

Musically it sounds like a protest song—a call to arms. STBC may be a harder, but it isn’t as angry or propulsive as Whipping is. STBC is more a moment of joy so intense you can’t stand it. Whipping is a song of defiance, and the music carries that feeling. It is music to take a beating to, complete with moments to catch your breath in the chorus, and some wordless howling by Eddie underneath the music leading into the first chorus (and during second chorus and outro as well).

So it’s a protest song of some kind. The album art clearly draws attention to abortion, but it isn’t a song about abortion per se. The lyrics make no specific reference to abortion as a political issue. Whipping is a template, to be used when and as necessary.

Whipping is a protest song, but it isn’t really a song about fighting back, which only makes sense in the context of Vitalogy. Vitalogy is a record about enduring, about Sisyphus continuing to push the rock despite the apparent futility of the act. The enemy is so big, so totalizing that resistance can only be personal, an act of self-purification rather than political engagement.

The choice of title is telling here. Whipping is associated with the image of the master and the slave, the punishment for disobedience, for not obeying the arbitrary rules that you never meaningfully consented to. And while there were occasional slave revolts, much of the resistance was personal, finding ways to keep your dignity and endure (and perhaps fight back in subtle ways) in the face of seemingly overwhelming, almost totalitarian force. It’s also worth considering that the reason the slave system lasted as long as it did was its effectiveness in keeping slaves isolated from one another. The numbers, and in important ways the power, were on the side of the slave, but what was missing was the communication and organization necessary to resist. As long as we fight back as individuals, rather than as a group, we cannot win. Defiance will be personal only. And there is a nice tie in later with the whip cracks at the start of Satan’s Bed, another song about personal defiance (although one centered more around authenticity than the bull headed endurance of whipping).

The lyrics reflect this throughout the song. It begins with images of protracted suffering. Too wet for a raincoat to matter, so much blood spilt that a bandage would be useless. It continues in the second verse. Too suspicious for help—there are always consequences and strings attached. There is anger at the people responsible for making the decisions that trap us (a shot at the culture industry in the context of Vitalogy, but easily read as a shot at conservative politicians, or whatever the listener needs it to be). There is also a sense of inevitability about the fight at this point. Too late to turn back—no choice but to endure. And as the song progresses it moves from a solitary act of pushing the rock to a greater sense of solidarity (a la Not For You). Some of the I’s become We’s—why must WE trust, I’m just like you, think We’ve had enough, we all got scars (again—the whipping), they should have em too. There is a moment of hope here. That even if nothing can be done but push the rock, at the very least we don’t need to push the rock alone.

I’ve always been a little uneasy about the placement of Whipping on the record. It is a bit jarring after Nothingman, which is fine except the pace is immediately slowed back down with Pry, To. Thematically it works with Corduroy, Not for You, or Satan’s Bed—the other moments of imperfect resistance, and makes sense surrounded by those songs, but it isn’t quite clear where it works best (perhaps this was the best spot for it). Thinking on it a bit I wonder if it might have been better placed between Corduroy and Satan’s bed (or after Satan’s Bed), moving Bugs up to earlier in the record..



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sirius News: 2/9/2011

Today's guest was Rob Skinner, aka Santos L. Halper, Head of Ten Club (10C) Shipping.  I've got lots of good notes for you.  Next week's guest ... Matt Cameron!
  • The 10C works hard to balance speed and cost in their shipping, but safety and quality of the product is the top priority.  There was a very informative discussion about how international shipping gets jacked up and how Amazon manages to beat 10C's shipping.
  • Even though there are many numbered items, the total number of items made is rarely release.  It's a general consensus around the Pearl Jam offices that the process is "lame."
  • The 2009 pre-show poster sale killed the demand for posters at the show, and the band likes the idea of fans walking away from shows with memorabilia, so that practice is unlikely to repeat.
  • Tim declined to comment on the professional "Got Some" video from Philly.
  • Lots of joking about the Pearl Jam Summer Festivalish-type Thing being in Alpine Valley, WI.  Tim was very clear that nothing is final, but ...
  • There was a little more discussion about the Orpheum show being release with the Deluxe and Super Deluxe versions of Vs. and Vitalogy.  Our forum members have unearthed a setlist, and the discussion is going on there.
If you missed it, Gremmie.Net archives episodes of All Encompassing Trip for your on-demand enjoyment.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Sky I Scrape Store is Here! is proud to announce the opening of our Zazzle Store!  Now you can sport your TSIS pride where ever you go with shirts, stickers, buttons, and one sweet coffee mug.  And yes, by popular demand, we're featuring Buggy's In My Tree design.

A small commission from each product supports server costs for the Red Mosquito Forum.  We hope you enjoy!

All That's Sacred, Episode #75

A lot of guys have sat behind the kit for Pearl Jam over the last 20 years and all have made significant contributions to the band's musical output. It was suggested some time ago to take a concentrated listen to each. This isn't a debate or a comparison, but rather an appreciation for what each guy brought to the band during their tenure.

Monday, February 7, 2011

TSIS Archive Now Complete

OK, I've finished moving all of the posts from our old server to our new blogger site.  You should be able to find any old news items are articles.  

The next step is to clean up our articles and links so that everything looks pretty and takes people to the places they want to go.  Moving the posts was pretty boring, but editing old stuff is downright brain numbing.  This might take a little while, so please be patient with me when you click on an old story and it doesn't look as pretty.

Keep on jammin', 

P.S. - Watch that "Store" link.  We pretty close to offering up some goodies.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Given To Cast, 2/4/2011

The February 4th episode of Given To Cast is up.

Well, a couple of days late but here it is: the latest podcast. A lot more music on this one and a lot less me, which in my opinion is a good thing. Enjoy!!!

Show Notes:

Opening Tag: Kathy and John from Two Feet Thick Dot Com
Opening Song: Arms Aloft from Live on Ten Legs
Extra Song: Far Behind - Eddie Vedder live from Berkley, CA
Week in Review - Visiting Pearl Jam fan sites for latest news
Song of the Week: Down - Live from ???
Venture Between The Songs: Ed talks about Kanye West
Rare Song: Public Enemy from Live on ten Legs
Last Song: Glorified G live from ???
After you listen, head to our forums to discuss it!

On a Side Note: Soundgarden Live on I-5 Presale

Soundgarden's live album is now available for purchase.  GrungeReport reports that you get a free soundcheck bonus disc.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pearl Jam to be Featured on Friday Night Knicks

Guided Tour of Vitalogy: Nothingman


Nothingman can be seen as something of an outlier song on Vitalogy. On the surface it appears to be a simple love song, albeit a beautiful one. It is gentle, fragile, with a bittersweet melody and a wistful, regretful vocal performance. Nothingman sounds like a memory, from the opening sounds of a guitar coming into focus to the final goodbye. And it works well as a love song—the story of a man who took for granted a powerful, dynamic woman, stifling her until she finally had to emancipate herself from him. And is so often the case, he did not understand what he actually had until it was gone and it was too late to bring her back. And now he’s left with nothing but the memories of what could have been.

But Nothingman, could also be read another way—the woman as a stand in for art, music, purity, or any gift we have that we abuse and take for granted. And if that’s the case Nothingman fits perfectly into the general themes and conceptual arcs of Vitalogy. And given the fact that Nothingman was written during these sessions, when Eddie was clearly grappling with these issues, this seems plausible. The tone of the song, the sense of regret and loss, need not change under this interpretation. In fact the song is still trying to accomplish the same thing—it is only the object that is different.

So under this read Nothingman picks up right after Tremor Christ—in some ways it reflects the failure of Tremor Christ—the ship was turned around too late for redemption. And now the passion that the subject had, for art, for music, for life, has been permanently tainted by the commodification and objectification of art and artist. The music is lost to him, existing mostly as mockery rather than a source of hope, escape, and transcendence. He is no longer able to call on it, and it refuses to take him anywhere. He no longer deserves the gifts, and the muse has moved on to someone who will (hopefully) not make the same mistakes. There is clearly a sense of guilt animating Nothingman, but this isn’t surprising. Eddie has always (and especially in this period) struggled with a sense of his own worth—wondering why he received the attention, the money, and the fame when there were so many other artists (in his opinion) far more deserving than him.

So where does this leave the subject? Under this interpretation the outro lines make a great deal more sense, especially read as foreshadowing immortality. There is the reference to the sun, to fame, celebrity, inauthenticity, and the false light that it provides under which nothing can really grow. He’s stuck there, blinded and trapped while slowly burning away into nothingness, and we’re left only with the memory of what could have been, and a warning not to make the same mistakes.