12. Pearl Jam – Vs

cd cover 12 Pearl Jam – Vs

Pearl Jam makes the list! I like Pearl Jam a lot… and I have, for quite some time. (even longer than some others!). I listened to this album a ton during my “angsty” youth (read: when I was a typical pissed off high school kid). This album has a number of stories attached to it, some better than others.

The first track I really knew from this album was Daughter. I was in a media class my Junior year of high school (this was well after the album came out, so I was already familiar with it, and all that) Anyway, the purpose of the assignment was to explain what the artist was saying in the song. Another group had “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine), which they wisely interpreted as “the end of the world is coming, but he’s okay with it”. Bravo, you are a complete idiot. Our group had John Doe #24… but another group had Daughter, and the teacher went into a lot of detail with that song.. and I thought that was really kewl… looking closely at the lyrics and all that. I had done some of that already, but not to the extent that we did in that class. I started getting big into that soon afterwards, which I’ve already mentioned repeatedly. Anyway, the thing I really liked about Daughter was that every time they performed it live, they’d sing something else at the ending… like Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall part 2. [“We don’t need no education…], or part of W.M.A., or Rockin’ in the Free World, etc.. There are a number of songs that I heard first as endings to Daughter, then later heard on the radio, and recognized, but couldn’t tell why [“Hey hey, my my. Rock and Roll will never die. There’s more to the picture than meets the eye. Hey hey, my my.”]. My roommate Sophomore year of college, Josh, will recall my MP3 cd that features 64 different live performances of Daughter, each with a different song. He seemed less than pleased with my playing that cd. [“If man is 5.. and the devil is 6… then God is 7.. This monkey’s gone to heaven”]. Anyway, Daughter still reminds me of the High School class. (This was the class where I gave a group report on Metallica with this girl.. We got a D, because the teacher hated both of us… and the girl I was with was excited that we passed.)

I’ve already talked about Rearview Mirror, but you should read that again… as it’s the song that stands out the most on the album for me… It’s my favorite song on the album as well. I’ll just add that this was and continues to be one of my favorite songs to play on the guitar.

Indifference was a song I really got into in college, and more recently would listen to on an endless loop while driving to and from work this past spring. There were reasons, but you don’t get to hear them. If Rearview Mirror is my favorite song on the album, this is a close second. The lyrics are just one quotable line after another:

i will light the match this mornin’, so i won’t be alone
watch as she lies silent, for soon light will be gone
i will stand arms outstretched, pretend i’m free to roam
i will make my way, through, one more day in hell…
how much difference does it make?
how much difference does it make…
i will hold the candle till it burns up my arm
i’ll keep takin’ punches until their will grows tired
i will stare the sun down until my eyes go blind
i won’t change direction, and i won’t change my mind

how much difference does it make
how much difference does it make..
how much difference…
i’ll swallow poison, until i grow immune
i will scream my lungs out till it fills this room
how much difference
how much difference
how much difference does it make
how much difference does it make…

I used to lie on the couch in my dorm sophomore year and play along to this song and Country Feedback over and over again, believing that at some point, the universe would make sense to me. When I hear that song, I see me on that couch with the lights off, eyes shut, playing that guitar.

High School.. summer… I’m working at the Greenhouse, and Tim and I are sitting my Jon Ippel (We called him “Nips”… say his name fast a few times, and you’ll see). He was a few years older than us, and just an all around kewl guy, we thought. Anyway, we were talking music, and I mentioned “That Pelican song” from Vs.. He looked oddly at me, and thought for a while, then realized what I was talking about… He said something.. and what I heard was “Those aren’t the words.. it’s “Glorified virgins of Apellica”. (Note please that that’s what I heard, not what was said. There’s a big difference.) So I went on believing the lyrics were about some virgins at a temple somewhere called Apellica. (I assumed there was some mythological story behind it.. but whatever..). Finally, I was going through the lyrics to the album, and read “Glorified version of a pellet gun”, and suddenly the song made sense to me… and I realized I was an idiot (so, it was a two-for-one kinda thing).

I’ll be straight and honest with you: I love the song Leash because it repeatedly screams the phrase “get outta my fucking face”, and sometimes I really just want to hear that phrase screamed repeatedly.

If ever your in search of 2 songs filled with pure energy, look no further than Go and Animal, the first two tracks on this album. Put plainly: They rock. Animal contains the following line, that’s repeated a number of times:

One, two, three, four, five against one
five, five, five, five against one.

Sven and I went to a Pearl Jam show in Chicago a few years ago, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to in my entire life. They played for hours, and they were just flat out perfect. Anyway, they played this song, and the entire place was pounding. Every time they got to these 2 lines, everyones hands flew into the air, and counted off with their fingers 1..2..3..4..5..5..5..5. It was just such a kewl thing to see and be a part of. I can’t hear this song without thinking about that moment.

Rats.. they don’t compare. This became a favorite because it came right after Rearview Mirror, and was easy to play.

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town: Hearts and thoughts they fade… Fade away.

This album on the whole is quite bleak: You’ve got Daughter, about an abused girl trying to rise above her past, a Dissident gets turned in by the woman sheltering him, Rats explains why humans are worse/more evil/dumber than..well… rats. The Elderly Woman has nothing left but old memories long gone, W.M.A. [White Male American] rants about injustice, Indifference cries of hopelessness, Glorified G talks of guns, and idiots with guns.., Blood bitches about the media and those people using their art to get rich (Ticketmaster, the rock industry that sought to turn him into the big rock star he hated and didn’t want to be, I guess. His art is his blood)… But in the bleak there are some success stories.. like Rearview Mirror, and Go. Anyway, this album just plain rocks.

8 thoughts on “12. Pearl Jam – Vs

  1. ouch. i am forever hurt and embarrassed.

    and i can’t even think of my routine comeback.


    I would like to point out that a kid i thought was a complete jackass in highschool was a Pearl Jam fan, and wore PJ shirts all the time, so i have a very bad first impression of them.

    stupid ron and his stupid zing.

  2. Lots of energy in this album, like you said, with “Go”, “Animal”, and “Rearviewmirror”. However, I thought “Daughter” was a weak attempt at remaking “Jeremy” from Ten. The rest of the album was okay, but not nearly as good as Ten. A slightly disappointing sophomore effort in all.

  3. hrm. Yeah, I’m not really seeing that.
    Jeremy is story, based on an actual event.. kinda [http://www.geocities.com/sin_on_my_mind/delle.html]
    where this boy ends up killing himself in front of his class by shooting himself in the head.

    Daughter talks about a girl (according to interviews with Eddie, she’s got a learning disability. “mother reads aloud. Child tries to understand it, tries to make her proud.”) who is repeatedly abused, but in her head believes she’ll overcome it (“she will rise above”).

    I guess if you’re going to say that every song about unhappy people under the age of 20 is the same, then yeah, they’re the same.

  4. “Every song about unhappy people under the age of 20…” You’re so smarmy. How about that each song has parents that either actively or passively (through their ignorance) abuse their child? And though I said the style isn’t the same, the first verse is delivered in exactly the same manner over the two songs: short, broken phrases. Also, IIRC, both songs were the first moody, slower song released from their respective albums.

    Okay, it’s not an exact match, but I still get the feeling I’m listening to “Jeremy Pt. 2” when I listen to “Daughter”. YMMV.

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