I feel as if I’m being haunted by Pearl Jam recently. Perhaps it’s the same impulse that brought me back to Matthew Sweet decades after the fact — an update on that: nostalgia is a powerful thing, powerful enough to overcome thin production and nasal harmonies, it seems — but I’ve been thinking more than I should about Eddie Vedder’s overwrought jam band of well-meaning misfits in the past few weeks.
What started as an offhand mention on the podcast remained in my mind as I thought of more and more of their songs that I remembered, and then I got a couple of work requests loosely affiliated with band. It’s been as if the universe has been trying to send me a message delivered in a particularly strangulated voice that yelps a lot.
I was a Pearl Jam fan for roughly two albums, after a fashion. Being of the age I am, their debut held an appeal that it didn’t truly deserve, thanks to the self-importance of singles like “Alive” and “Jeremy” and a 16-year-old’s inherent desire to find things deeper than they actually are. I was a fan in the sense of getting the album from the library and not really digging it that much, but wanting to, because they really cared, man. Far more than the reality, the idea of the band really appealed to me.
Their second album, I actually owned. It came out around the time I left home for the first time, and I’m pretty sure I was given it as a birthday present. I remember that I had the initial release where it was untitled, before it became known as Versus, and I also can tell you that, despite it being played countless times that fall and winter, I literally can’t remember one song from it today. I can’t even remember a title of one, it was so non-descript.
After that, I moved on to music I actually liked and wanted to listen to. Britpop was getting started and that proved to be far more my thing, and Pearl Jam got left behind in my memory… until now, it seems. If this is some kind of undead thing happening for October, I’m really not impressed.