Sunday, October 02, 2005

Nobody Does It Vedder

Motown Philly back again...doin' a little Pearl Jam thang...

I'm headed to the streets of Philadelphia tomorrow to check out Eddie and the boys, so I thought I'd give a little lip service to my favorite band. This will be my fourth PJ concert, but believe me, four times isn't nearly enough. I wish I could be like the Deadheads, quit my job and just follow those guys around the country. I tend to babble aimlessly when talking about them, so forgive me if this is a long and winding post.

I could've caught them in my own backyard just three nights ago, as they were here in Pittsburgh opening for the Rolling Stones. My reasons for not going are threefold. (Yes, I finally got to use that word in a sentence!!) One, I've seen Pearl Jam headline three times and a mere opening slot would just be a tease. Two, I've seen the Stones twice and didn't feel the need to see them again. Three, it was TOO BLOODY EXPENSIVE. I delved further into that issue in my very first blog entry, but basically no band is worth paying over $150 for. And $150 was the low end of ticket prices. Adding insult to injury, it was later revealed that it cost $50 to park in the Heinz Field lots!

Some locals are smarter than I, because they anchored their boats or camped out on blankets outside the stadium and got to hear the show for free. And to think I was lying on my couch watching C.S.I. The concert got a great review in the local paper, and all reports I've heard have been nothing short of gushing. Apparently, the biggest crowd-pleaser came in the form of Eddie Vedder coming back out on stage to duet with Mick on "Wild Horses". Now, I would love to have seen that, but I'm sure a bootleg copy of the performance will surface somewhere. Although, I doubt that Mick and Keef are as bootleg-friendly as PJ. They probably had a helicopter fly over the crowd with a giant magnet that sucked up any electronics or recording devices.

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to the show, as I look forward to all of their shows. There has never been a band or artist whose music has touched me or affected me as profoundly as theirs. There was actually a time, only a few years ago, where I had practically given up on music because it seemed like the business had taken over and there was nothing of any substance left. At that point, all I listened to was Pearl Jam. I couldn't bring myself to listen to the radio, and although I would occasionally listen to other CDs, nothing else ever made me feel anything. This is not a testament to them being the best band in the world, it's simply an illustration of how I felt at the time. I felt like rock music might very well be dead, and Pearl Jam was the only light at the end of the tunnel.

It was actually the discovery of a completely different band, Vic Thrill (who I will blog about in greater detail soon), that prompted my musical re-awakening and I'm happy to report that since then I have discovered that there is a lot of great music out there, but sometimes it actually needs to be found. If we sit around and wait for the radio or MTV to give us quality artists, we could end up very bored and very disappointed. Now, I'm not one of those people who doesn't like anything mainstream. If I were, I wouldn't like Pearl Jam. And I'm not saying that all music should be "thinking man's music" or have a message. Some of it is just meant to entertain. But there is a difference between music and entertainment, and that is what these record company stiffs seem to have forgotten. Music is an art form and at it's very best it should provoke a response or a reaction in people. "It's got a good beat and I could dance to it" is not the kind of response that I'm talking about either. I'm talking about really connecting with something on an emotional, spiritual or mental level. One of the simple pleasures in life is hearing a song that really speaks to you. The kind of song that you hear and think, "My God, this person just reached inside me, pulled everything out and wrote it down". Honestly, I can't even count how many Pearl Jam songs I've felt that way about.

When I talk about the band, I usually end up focusing on Eddie Vedder. I don't mean to slight the other guys, because they are all immensely talented and have fantastic chemistry together. The music always grabs me, but it's the lyrics that really keep and hold me, which explains why Eddie gets most of my attention. There is only a small handful of lyricists out there who I feel can put pen to paper and spin gold just about every time. Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Nicks are two such artists, and Eddie Vedder is right up there with them. I've always felt that The Boss was tops when it came to songwriting, but Eddie might actually have a slight edge on him as far as I'm concerned, only because more of his songs seem to really affect me. It has a lot to do with his delivery as well. He's right there with Bruce and Stevie in the vocal category too, because they're all singers that seem to have a very polarizing effect on people. You either love 'em or hate 'em. I happen to love all of them because I do actually like the quality of their voices but more importantly, when they sing it's for real, and it's from the heart. When I hear Eddie sing, and especially when I see him perform, I know I'm not getting an act. He's up there feeling it, meaning it and owning it. There are certainly a lot of vocalists out there who are technically better singers, but who leave me absolutely cold. Eddie's voice is pure emotion, and the emotions run the gamut. He can go from angry, guttural growls to lilting, almost weepy tones to soaring releases of energy. There is absolutely nothing that is phony about him, and I appreciate that...especially now in a music industry riddled with sell-outs and soundalikes.

When I think of the effect that Pearl Jam's music has on me, I can understand why even the ugliest rock stars can bag the prettiest women. What they have, if you truly connect with it, is something so beyond physical attraction. Talent is sexy. Dedication to one's craft is endearing. Passion is irresistible. I imagine that even if Eddie Vedder looked like Ric Ocasek, I would still probably want to have his children. I would just be less likely to admit it in public! As it happens, Eddie is blessed with one of the most adorable faces that I've ever seen and hair that I would play with all day long if I could. But honestly, and all you girls will think I'm full of it but I'm being serious, if I had the opportunity to be alone in a room with him for a few hours I would rather talk music or have him sing to me than try to jump on him. As hot as I think he is, I find him so fascinating and would be more concerned with learning where he gets his inspiration from than trying what would most likely be an unsuccessful seduction attempt. Quite simply, I think I would just really love to tell him what his music has meant to me all these years. I think that would make us both happy.

(Ok, then if he wanted to get it on after that, I wouldn't say no. I'm not a moron.)

For those of you who aren't PJ fans, sorry for the rant. But I'm sure that there is some artist who you feel this strongly about. I'd love to hear about it. And if anything I've said has prompted anyone to check Pearl Jam out for the first, second or umpteenth time, then I'm pleased. I will even offer up some suggestions by way of my Top 20 PJ songs (a ranking order that changes all the time, except for the top 3):

1. Corduroy, Vitalogy
2. I God Id, Merkinball single
3. No Way, Yield
4. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Vs
5. In My Tree, No Code
6. Nothingman, Vitalogy
7. Thumbing My Way, Riot Act
8. Angel, Christmas '93 single
9. State of Love and Trust, Singles soundtrack
10. Rearviewmirror, Vs
11. Even Flow, Ten
12. Other Side, Save You single and Lost Dogs
13. Leash, Vs
14. Wishlist, Yield
15. Dissident, Vs
16. You Are, Riot Act
17. Porch, Ten
18. Light Years, Binaural
19. W.M.A., Vs
20. Off He Goes, No Code

And finally, for some shameless self-promotion! If you're interested, I wrote a few Pearl Jam CD reviews over at Epinions. I started with the intention of reviewing all of them, in order of my preference but I only got through three of them. I just started to feel like I was repeating myself and didn't feel like devoting all of my time to writing strictly record reviews. They probably are a bit rhapsodical, but what the hell, they're my boys!

Review of Riot Act
Review of Vs
Review of No Code


Lee Ann said...

Pearl Jam is definitely good! You are right about the cost of tickets. I saw The Stones, and the ticket was under $50 (I am thinking more like $25), but then again, it was a LONG time ago. Bruce is the Boss that is for sure. I think that was the best concert I had ever been to. I still doubt I would even pay $150 to see him.

Kate said...

Oh wow. I hate saying it like this, but I remember Pearl Jam. Nirvana was cranky and prone to tantrums and Pearl Jam just had a kind of heart and optimism to them that balanced Nirvana out pretty well. When they stopped making videos, I have to admit, I stopped keeping up with them, but I loved Versus and Ten very much. I loved Eddie's crusade against TicketMaster.
I suppose I still feel the same way about U2. I got into these guys around 1989 and have been obsessed ever since. I would give anything I own just to be able to talk to Bono. Like your reasons for meeting Eddie Vedder, I just think he is one of the most fascinating rockers out there and I doubt the conversation would immediately shift to heavy world issues. :)
But yeah, Pearl Jam is really good.

Melanie said...

I have to admit that Pearl Jam didn't do much to win me over when they released "Last Kiss" (espcially since they changed the lyrics!). To a girl who listened to 3WS her entire childhood, nothing tops the original-- But I like their other stuff.

Bonanza Jellybean said...

State of Love and Trust is a LONG TIME favorite. One of my favorite songs EVER.

I saw PJ back right after Vs. cxame out, and they were INCREDIBLE. Enjoy!!!

Teri said...

I'm holding my breath, waiting for your review of the show...

An80sNut said...

I'll be honest here. I am not really a Pearl Jam fan. I usually find about one song or two from most of the last albums but nothing seems to top the cohesiveness of Ten. I need to buy that again. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

no band is worth more than $150, and that includes his high on himselfness value for the buck is Springsteen, divide that $150 out by 4 hours ha


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