Your Pearl Jam Primer

pearljamI'm writing this Pearl Jam primer off the top of my head, because I was there and I remember.

For me, Pearl Jam flew in under a cloud of Nirvana dust. My ear buds were freaking out over Nirvana's Nevermind when our local alt rock station, CFNY, started playing Pearl Jam. The media lumped them together as part of Seattle's grunge scene. I didn't care what they called it, so long as they played it. Ten, released in the summer of 1991, was a play-through I played through about 4 zillion times. You can hear Alive, Evenflow, Black and Jeremy on any rock station on any day, but I preferred Porch, particularly this version from their Unplugged performance for MTV.

While waiting for Vs., we got a couple of great Pearl Jam tracks on the Singles soundtrack. State of Love and Trust was one of those soundtrack tunes that was way too good not to appear on a studio album.

Pearl Jam could rock out with Eddie's wail, but those ballads could carry the night. One moment you're yelling until your throat hurts and the next moment you've got the lighter out and you're swaying back and forth staring at the stars. Here's Eddie and his pal Ben Harper singing one such song.

On the morning of my first day of university, I awoke to one of my favourite covers of all-time. This is Pearl Jam singing Victoria Williams' Crazy Mary for the Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams LP and I still love it.

Studio album #3 was Vitalogy, another Pearl Jam album I got on its first day of release. Do kids even do that anymore? Did the internet kill that feeling you get when you'd peel off the plastic on day one and throw that disc you've anticipated for months into the player?

When I first spun Vitalogy, I couldn't get over one track that just got my heart racing. It's even better live. It's Corduroy.

I could go on forever about Pearl Jam, a band I've seen live six times. I've got lots more on my little Pearl Jam in Toronto page, if you're interested. The weight of the Pearl Jam catalogue is impressive, even without delving too deep into the rarities and b-sides. For my money, nothing beats Daughter with the extended It's Ok tag.

Let me just leave you with another cover... this one a recent cover of Hunters and Collectors' Throw Your Arms Around Me.

Ok, I lied. There's only one fitting way to close out a Pearl Jam show, and that's with Yellow Ledbetter. G'night, all.

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Frank the Tank

Mike... I couldn't have said it better myself. I have seen pearl jam a total of 8 times now. It's one of those things that you wait around for. You hope and pray when you visit their site to see something about a tour.

Two memories that stick out in my mind is the tour that last brought them to the Molson Amphitheatre. I remember the weather couldn't have been better. I had a nice cold beer in my hand and rocked out, chilled out and just loved every moment of their performance. At the end after what seemed like 5 encores(one can wish), fireworks started to go off. It was the festival of lights at ontario place and it just capped off the entire performance Eddie just laughed as he walked off the stage because you couldn't pay for better timing.

Second was when they played at the ACC, just after 3 or 4 performances from U2. They played an amazing set, you could feel the energy oozing everywhere. He started off by thanking U2 for opening for him with a laugh and a swig of his favorite red wine. At the end well I'm sure everyone knows now but bono came out and they played to a standing ovation while bono and Eddie gave it their all.

I could go on about what their songs meant for me and still do. The great about pearl jam is the numerous live albums they have out. They play all their best songs in variations that you can never get tired of them.

I think that rear view mirror is perhaps one of my favorites after hearing it live.

I turn to crazy mary whenever I need to feel good and get goose bumps.

Nothingman if I've had a bad day and just need to phase out.

Turn once and animal up real high when I hit the gym.

Give elderly woman behind the counter in a small town a play along with a little yellow ledbetter when I'm having dinner with my better half(always makes both of us smile).

As it stands mike you always make great posts I come here often and comment very little, but none the less visit everyday. I don't think you could have given them a better tribute than you did. Your words along with the undying loyalty of their fan club shows just how much their songs have meant to countless people.

Nice Job Mike

December 4, 2008 @ 9:43 PM


It's ironic you bring up 1990's music. Being older than you & discussing music overall with a freind last week - are there any songs from 1990's that will live on forever?
Possibly a few Pearl Jam & Nirvana songs but thats it.
Even Q107 is starting to play their songs as classic rock.
Other than these 2 bands no one else should be considered.

December 4, 2008 @ 9:56 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

Dale, I don't know about that, there was plenty of stuff from the 90s that should live on. Lots of the Hip stuff, The Cure had the Wish CD that to me is still their best release to date, NIN had some great stuff, Soundgarden, there was lots of stuff.
Look at the 80's now. A lot of the stuff I considered junk 10 years ago, I love hearing now. 80s stuff is timeless. I think as with all things, distance makes the heart grow fonder especially with music. distance gives you more perspective on its place in history. I Think the decade of music that we are having from 2000-now only makes the 90s even more relevant because this decade has been full of a lot of crap. More crap than good.

December 4, 2008 @ 11:06 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

As far as Pearl Jam, Mike, they would have been my second guess as to the band you were going to talk about.
I wasn't overly impressed by them at first when they came out back in the day. But over the years and especially the last 8 years or so, I have really developed a huge respect for them. Ten is one of their best, obviously but my favorite was Vitalogy. They won me over big time when I saw Eddie Vedder perfrom with Neil Finn in a concert video. I graduated High school in 1991, so I was about the same age at the beginning of the 90's. I was just old enough to really be a big fan of a lot of the 80s that essentially defined my listening pleasure. Pearl Jam was the link between the 80's and 90's
I all of a sudden noticed how passionate Vedder is about the music and his appreciation for the history of music. He has performed with N. Young, Finn, Harper you name the artist. That to me is impressive. Pearl Jam recognize their predecessors and peers like no other group . Some of their best moments to me are their covers. The Hunters and Collectors was a great one Mike.
Vedder and company love to play and they love to perform and you can see that in only a handful of bands. Most get up and look like they are going through the motions, not PJ. They have a place like no other band in the history of music. They have outlasted all their peers of that era and show no signs of going away. I often compare them to the Hip and maybe because I do like the Hip better, but I honestly think that Pearl Jam, as much as I do like the Hip more are the class of the 90's generation of rock. There is no band currently that could be their equal except maybe U2.

December 4, 2008 @ 11:29 PM

Hobo Joe

Wow Mike, where can I even begin? You got my thoughts all over the place so I wanna try and get them down properly and in their entirety. I warn you all now, this will be a lengthy post and if the thoughts are a little random, sorry.

First off, this is my favorite Toronto Mike post/thread of all time... and you've posted some good content.

Yes, you were right earlier, music has meant a lot to me between 15 and 30, which for me was between 1986 and 2001. I'm now 37 and though I still try to keep up with the scene, family life makes it tough. But that's just fine becasue I have the music of my care free days to keep me company. Today, a band like The Killers would've meant a lot more to me back then, but I still have 'em in my ear buds. I just don't have the time to listen the way I did. Hell, part of the reason I recently took up jogging was to be able to listen to my MP3 player for an hour or so a day.

Pearl Jam - Something tells me we would've chilled real hard together back in the day. Ten was all I listened to non-stop. Garden always moved me in a way I can't describe. If I wanted to feel solemn, and I did from time to time, that's what I put on. Why Go, can't say enough about it. Ten was to me in the 90's what Appetite for Destruction was in the 80's. Hard to believe those albums were just 4 years apart.

That version of Porch - Let me tell you.... I lived pretty close to NYC's Village. One of my favorite all time things to do was hop a train and head over to the CD bootleg place. The internet then wasn't quite what it is now and these types of places were popular with the buyers but not with the Feds. I'd always have to find a new spot once in a while. So one day I pick up the MTV show (remember Eddie falling off the stool?). Porch stood out and made me give due props to the studio cut. The dueling guitar thrashings at the end are killer. But more than that, it really made my love of acoustic music take off. I couldn't get my hands on enough acoustic/unplugged versions of any of my favorite songs. Stone Temple Pilots' Violet stands out big time, Crackerman imparticular.

The Singles soundtrack - I remember thinking, "Can this band be this good? To bang out 2 more top-notch songs off the stength of Ten? What can their next album have in store?" This also made me familiar with Mother Love Bone's Chloe. Just like a favorite movie you come across, forgotten how much you really love it and can't turn the channel on, I can't pass up Chloe. I'm glad I never overdid it with that and the radio never mangled it either.

I was working at 4 World Trade Center on the day VS. came out. I couldn't get to Sam Goody's fast enough at lunch time to pick it up and put it in my portable CD player. W.M.A., Indifference and Rearviewmirror stood out immediately.

Vitalogy - with Corduroy, I remember thinking (and singing a lot) the line was "I'll take the fireman's path" but was wrong before I read "varmint". I was instantly reminded of Yosemite Sam. Another great album but what was up with Bugs? Oh yeah, you're right about the lost feeling of a record's anticipation. I mean, it's still there in the conscience, but not like waiting for the high school bell to ring becasue you can't get the the record store fast enough to drop down your dough and stream through the liner notes. If Video Killed The Radio Star, then the Internet killed them both. I still talk about at gatherings, "what was you first ever record or CD?" Someday, maybe not too far, today's group will be asking "what was your first ever download?" while some other group is going about it in some unthinkable way..... right now.

I have this combined lyric that, still to this day, I utter to myself when someone pisses me off: Push me and I will resist, I don't wanna push but I'm being shoved.

No Code was good but Yield spiked them back up.

Yellow Ledbetter was this phantom song at the bars. It was hard to get a hold of, both physically and audibly. Could it be possible that they owned this song too? It was like a unicorn but I hunted it down and made it more available to the masses.

I didn't care for Last Kiss too much, and maybe as each of their last few albums came out, I cared a little bit less. If that's true than it affirms one thing: The music meant more to me back then.

Again, sorry if I rambled on but it's your fault. And if no one else reads this, that's ok too. It felt good just to type it.

Thanks Mike.

December 5, 2008 @ 12:30 AM


Wow - thanks for posting the Hunters and Collectors cover, one of my all time favourite songs. Good job.

Love reading the comments dissing other generations music. The 90's had a ton of great bands (waiting to read about STP and the Chili Peppers), and there is a lot of great new music out there now too. Keep your ears young.

December 5, 2008 @ 6:53 AM


Gag me with a spoon already - are you guys serious? Talk about a shit band. Horrible. How Eddie has built up this Rock God like status, I'll never know.

December 5, 2008 @ 8:42 AM

Toronto Mike

You're right elvis, PJ is no Aerosmith...

December 5, 2008 @ 9:43 AM

Toronto Mike

And let me point out, the greatest story I've never blogged is all about Ed and the gang.

He actually once chose Bono over Boon.

December 5, 2008 @ 9:49 AM


I love this post b/c it reminds me of when music mattered most.

Remember when you bought an album because it was by your band? Remember being a completist? Buying all the bootlegs? Analyzing the lyrics?

I want to hear the greatest story you've never blogged...

December 5, 2008 @ 10:05 AM

kaydee kid

Pearl Jam is the Rolling Stones except they kept their cred a great deal longer.

These guys are still relevant. Not bad for a band together almost 20 years.

Eddie's the voice for a generation... a voice that didn't shoot itself in the head.

If you were there and you remember, consider yourself blessed.

December 5, 2008 @ 10:28 AM

Fredericton Steve

Greatest band of all time. I have seen then 4 times and I would like to make that 40 but for me it is always a distance to travel with the exception of the 2005 tour.

December 5, 2008 @ 4:58 PM

Jason |

Anyone who cares about this already knows Mike.........

December 5, 2008 @ 6:13 PM

Toronto Mike

Those who don't care have the right to skip this entry completely... heck, those who don't care can delete this site from their bookmarke for all I care.

It's entries like this one I enjoy writing the most and last time I checked, it was all about me.

December 5, 2008 @ 6:25 PM


Always great to read about my fav band. PJ has kept me sane in an insane world. When the younger ones are listening to dumb music, I shut myself in my room and crack up the mp3 player to max and let myself drift in a cloud of "In Hiding".

December 21, 2008 @ 12:38 AM


Posts like this are what make the internet great, thanks for sharing.

December 18, 2009 @ 1:23 AM

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