10 Songs That Got Pearl Jam Into The Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame
Pearl Jam have been one of the most iconic rock bands, from their early grunge days to one of the quintessential alt-rock acts around, the Seattle ensemble are renown the world over. Now, after over 25 years in the business, they've been inducted into the legendary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
Yes, Alive. Of course, Alive. It’s the Pearl Jam song your mum knows. Which is the sort of song you need if you’re hoping to get into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame someday. Not all such songs deal with the heavy subject matter of discovering he man you thought was your father is not, and that your biological parent is dead, though. That such a heavy topic makes up the lyrics to Pearl Jam’s biggest song speaks volumes about the band’s deep appeal. And coming after a decade like the ‘80s, where absolute silliness from bands like Poison and Motley Crue prevailed, it was a welcome change of direction.
The Jeremy of the song’s title refers to a Texas boy named Jeremy Wade Delle. On January 8, 1991, Jeremy took his own life in front of his school English class, aged just 15. The reason you know this is because Eddie Vedder felt such a tragic event deserved much more than the couple of column inches he happened across in a newspaper. “It came from a small paragraph in a paper which means you kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you're gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper,” said the singer in an interview at the time. “”Nothing changes. The world goes on and you're gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself. Be stronger than those people. And then you can come back.”
8. Yellow Ledbetter
The B-side to Jeremy, Yellow Ledbetter is said to be about receiving notice that a loved one serving overseas has been killed. Eddie Vedder has also described it as “an anti-patriotic song”, with a story emerging that an old friend had received such notice, and on a subsequent walk went to salute a flag, but was put off by disapproving looks from its owners over his punk appearance.
7. Better Man
Great has been the speculation as to the subject of this song about an abusive relationship – namely the possibility that it addresses Eddie Vedder’s stepfather. Whomever it’s about, though, the lyrics are genuinely uncomfortable and tense, the true meaning once again masked by an enormous chorus and radio-rock vibe.
6. State Of Love And Trust
If you haven’t seen ‘90s flick Singles, shame on you. Killer film, and it’s got one of the finest soundtracks ever put together. Pearl Jam’s contribution stands as Exhibit A, B and C to support this case.
5. Do the Evolution
To the world of science, where Eddie Vedder dissects the idea of man’s short time on Earth, comparative to how long time has gone on for. Probably won’t win him a Nobel Prize, but it does have a pretty tasty punk riff. So that’s something.
4. Given To Fly
Next time you’re stuck inside due to inclement weather, think on this: PJ guitarist Mike McCready wrote one of Pearl Jam’s best songs as a way of amusing himself during a snowy day. Which is a lot better than going to the park and having kids pelt you with snowballs.
3. World Wide Suicide
In the aftermath of 9/11 and the subsequent war in Iraq, the ever-socially conscious pen of Eddie Vedder had a lot to write about. Here, he addresses the deaths of servicemen who didn’t get a huge media tribute, as well as the death of soldier and American footballer Pat Tillman. Tillman had been killed in combat, but it was not revealed until much later that he was killed by friendly fire, something known to and covered up by the army even when awarding him the Purple Heart medal posthumously. Once again, Eddie manages to tackle a heavy issue with the dignity and respect it deserves.
Not a Def Leppard cover (do one please, lads), Animal is actually a song about which there has been much speculation. Some theories say it’s about sexual assault, others about friction in the band, others about the band and the media. Whatever it is, Eddie Vedder once said that when pressed to turn the vocals up in the mix by a label bod, his explanation had them changing their mind, it being better for folks not to know. Good song, though.
1. Just Breathe
Pearl Jam do bloke-with-an-acoustic-guitar-strumming-away-introspectively-by-himself songs really well. While the band have never revealed what it’s truly about, the chorus of ‘Did I say that I need you? Did I say that I want you? Boy if I didn’t I’m a fool you see,’ are some of the most honest, simple love song lyrics ever written. Aww.
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Words: Nick Ruskell