I consider myself to be a lucky gal. I never win when I enter raffles, I never find $20 in my old winter jackets, but I was lucky enough to be the youngest sibling of a guy who was into music even more than I was. While most kids were listening to New Kids on The Block, my oldest brother Eugene was filling my young ear drums with Jane’s Addiciton, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. I love to think that as an 11 year old girl, I was cool enough to latch on to these band right away, but truth be told, I was just happy he chose me to listen to the music instead of my siblings, so I listened until I learned to appreciate it, and haven’t looked back since.

I would have to say that his expertise and true affection lay with Pearl Jam though. Eddie and friends have flowed through every family road trip, every cottage adventure and every backyard bbq – he even named his son Stone after guitarist Stone Gossard. We are all accustomed to receiving one-of-a-kind Pearl Jam memorabilia as gifts and are grateful that he shares his love and interest in this band ( I have to admit that my hand-made, #50 of 1000, Pearl Jam hoodie is a prized possesion). So when I heard that Eddie Vedder was releasing a Ukulele album, I knew who to turn to, to give MvM readers a great read.

I emailed Eugene to ask if he could contribute any interesting facts for the post, and that question turned into a weekend full of Pearl Jam trivia and so many tidbits, that I hope I remembered them all for the post. If you are a fellow lover of lyrics, Eddie Vedder is a master of this domain. Really listen to the words of all these songs – genius! So to honour a band that saved the music world from the 90s pop massacre and a brother that still shares his passion with me to this day, enjoy TJM’s Pearl Jam post.

Here are 6 songs that are in Eugene’s top list of Pearl Jam songs:

1. Release – 1st album. Last song. It starts it all. Release is also considered the best opening song for a live Pearl Jam show.

Pearl Jam – Release
Pearl Jam – Release

2. Footsteps – This is the final song from Pearl Jam’s Mamasan Trilogy. It was only released on the Japan version of Ten and finally released in the US on the Lost Dogs compilation. The Mamasan Trilogy is the three songs Alive, Once, and Footsteps, in order. They depict the life of a boy from childhood to adulthood. In Alive, Eddie took a cue from his own life when the child at the age of 13 finds out his father is actually his step-father and his real father has died. The boy becomes angry, violent and filled with rage toward his mother. In the song Once, the boy is now a man and his anger fuels a rampage of killing and rape before he is caught. Footsteps is the final song about the man now on death row, still filled with rage for his mother and no remorse about his actions before being executed. It is a rare treat for fans to hear these songs played together in order at a live show.

Pearl Jam – Footsteps
Pearl Jam – Footsteps

3. Long Road – This song was written during the recording sessions of Merkinball, an album that was done with Neil Young while Pearl Jam backed him on his album Mirrorball. Eddie Vedder told the story of “Long Road” during the July 7th, 2006 concert in San Diego. The song was written after learning that Eddie’s high school drama teacher, Clayton E. Liggett had passed away. Eddie called Liggett’s death losing, “one of the good ones”, saying that he walked into the studio, picked up a guitar and hit the D chord over and over, “for like eight minutes”, as if he was “ringing a bell”, and eventually the rest of the band came in to join him and the song grew from there. It is an amazing speech that puts the kind of story behind music that makes your favorite songs so wonderful. If you can find the bootleg version from their 2006 San Diego show at Cox Arena, Eddie himself explains the song’s origins – it’s worth the search.

Pearl Jam – Long Road
Pearl Jam – Long Road

4. Come Back – From a more recent album, the band’s self titled release (nicknamed Avacodo because of the cover art), this song is about Eddie’s long time friend, the deceased Johnny Ramone. He sings about dreaming of his friend and their conversations seeming so real, that maybe there was an open door where he could somehow come back. I am a huge lyric person. I listen to the words of every song and really appreciate what an artist reveals to you and how they can strike a chord at different times in your life. Eugene told me a story about one of the 22 times he’s seen the band and a young guy that was next to him who broke down when the band played this song. Eugene asked if the guy was alright and his friend told him that his father had passed away the week before. Imagine what these lyrics meant to that guy.

Pearl Jam – Come Back
Pearl Jam – Come Back

5. Crown of Thorns – Crown of Thorns is a song from the group Mother Love Bone that both Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard were a part of. The frontman Andrew Wood died of an overdose on March 19, 1990 at the age of 24. Wood’s roommate at the time was Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Jeff and Stone were getting together with Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, and Dave Krusen to form Pearl Jam when Chris Cornell asked them if they would like to record a single he had written with Andrew and those sessions eventually turned into the Temple of the Dog album. Pearl Jam first played this song live at their tenth anniversary show in Las Vegas (which I included for you). It can only loosly be called a cover song since both Jeff and Stone helped to write the song.

Pearl Jam – Crown of Thorns (Mother Love Bone Cover)
Pearl Jam – Crown Of Thorns (MLB cover)

6. Indifference – To close the list is one of the best alternate closing songs for a Pearl Jam show (after the massively favoured Yellow Ledbetter). Regarding “Indifference”, Vedder has said it is about “[trying to] do something to make some other peoples’ lives better than they are, even if it means going through hell yourself.” Listen to this live version of the song. At the 3:45 mark the crowd takes over the vocals – pretty awesome stuff.

Pearl Jam – Indifference
Pearl Jam – Indifference (Live in Toronto 2006)

As a bonus, check out the song Soon Forget from the album Binaural to get an example of Eddie’s love of the Uke. The lyrics in this song are fantastic and so fitting for our times. Great message Eddie.

Sorry is the fool who trades his soul for a corvette.
Thinks he’ll get the girl he’ll only get the mechanic.
What’s missing? He’s living a day he’ll soon forget.

Pearl Jam – Soon Forget
Pearl Jam – Soon Forget

There are way too many songs from Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder to even scratch the surface in this post. Eddie’s soundtrack for the movie “Into the Wild” is a staple in our house on a Sunday morning, so when I found his song “Sleeping By Myself” off his newest release “Ukulele Songs” out May 31, I knew it was an indication that his latest album is destined to join the playlist.

Eddie Vedder – Sleeping By Myself
Eddie Vedder – Sleeping by myself

I would love to hear your thoughts on a band who has helped shape a generation and made fans into followers – tracking them all over the world. Eugene told me that the rumour is that Pearl Jam is planning a 3 day festival somewhere in the middle of America in honour of their 20 year anniversary, where they will headline each night. I know Eugene has his hand on the pulse for these tickets, do you?

Happy Listening!
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