Pearl Jam is one of the most influential and popular rock bands of the 90s. It moves people not only with their powerful lyrics but with their strong political activism exposed in their live performances. Pearl Jam is considered one of the first grunge bands to lead the break through of alternative music. They won several awards, including five American Music Awards and 2006’s Best Live Act Award. They have many great songs but my Top Ten list includes:
10. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In a Small Town: This touching song is supposedly about an older woman who works a menial job and seems very sad. One day she runs into an old friend and there is a flood of old feelings and emotions. It highlights the value we tend to put on “old relationships”.
9. Given to Fly: This popular song was released in 1998 off their album “Yield.” It topped off at #21 on Billboard charts. It is about a man who is held back in life and manages to overcome his obstacles that keep him from being happy. Once he overcomes these hurdles he spends his life trying to help others conquer their own depressions. It has been rumored that it is about a real person in singer, Eddie Vedder’s life.
8. Porch: There have been several debates about the meaning of this song. Some believe it is about being Pro-Choice and a woman’s right to choose abortion. Others believe it is about the loss of a dear friend (or lover). Either way it is a great song!
7. Alive: This song (along with the songs “Once” and “Footsteps”) was intended to mimic a “mini-opera” about incest, madness, and murder. The lyrics were written by Eddie Vedder; while the music was written by guitarist, Stone Gossard. Although it was not a huge release at first, it ended up becoming one of the top hit alternative singles ever written later on.
6. Rearview Mirror: This song is found on Pearl Jam’s second album, Vs. It is a tender song about a ‘breakup’. The lyrics imply that the relationship had come to and end and the best thing about the relationship was seeing it through the “rearview mirror” as he drove away.
5. Footsteps: This is one of Vedder’s more powerful songs. The lyrics and the music were both written by Vedder himself. It appears as if the song is about guilt and looking at one’s mistakes in hindsight.
4. Off He Goes: Vedder has admitted this song is about him being a so-called “bad friend.” The song is from 1996’s Pearl Jam album, No Code.
3. Yellow Ledbetter: While it has never been released on any of their studio albums, it remains one of their most popular slow songs and is most often associated with being the last song of all live performances. In fact it has been said that Vedder changes the lyrics as he goes along each time he sings it. It is allegedly about a soldier’s family getting a telegram stating he had been killed in WWII and they are so devastated they cannot open it.
2. Black: This emotional slow song was written by Vedder about losing a heartfelt love. It was so meaningful and personal to Vedder that he refused to allow it become a single. It was left as just another song on the Ten album and became one of their most famous songs.
1. Jeremy: This song won four different MTV music awards in 1993 for best video. It is a true story about a boy who spends his life being ridiculed by his classmates. He seeks revenge by taking his own life in front of his whole class.
**Note: These song descriptions are mostly opinions, for we may never know exactly what Vedder was thinking when he wrote them!**