my hemp necklace and hackey sack clouded my judgment.
When my friends at KilScene asked me if I’d be interested in writing a piece for their “Desert Island Thursday” column, I immediately accepted the offer and was excited to get started. Then after about an hour the excitement wore off and the panic set in. I thought to myself, how in the world could I pick just one album to be stranded on a desert island with?? That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. What genre would I pick from? Would it be old or new? I could easily tell readers about the thousands of times I listened to Green Day‘s “Dookie” album in 6th grade truly believing that Tre Cool was the best drummer to ever live. Or that Phish phase in early high school where I listened to their “Billy Breathes” album for an entire year as my hemp necklace and hackey sack clouded my judgment. Both albums were pretty awesome for a moment but nothing good enough to commit to a lifetime alone on a desert island. Then it hit me, one album that I can still to this day put on and listen to the entire thing from beginning to end would have to be Pearl Jam‘s debut album, “Ten“.
The band displayed more harmony, stronger guitar solos and warmth in their sound than the rest of their grunge brethren.
It all started with Nirvana‘s Nevermind album, introducing us all to the grunge rock era, but it took an album like “Ten” to appeal to a more mass audience and say to the world that this type of music is here to stay. Unlike the other Seattle grunge bands that came out around the same time like Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden; Pearl Jam had a little less raw sound to them. The band displayed more harmony, stronger guitar solos and warmth in their sound than the rest of their grunge brethren.
This pivotal 90’s alternative rock album started simply as a instrumental album until it fell into the hands of the bands future lead singer, Eddie Vedder. After writing lyrics for both “Alive” and “Once“; Eddie sent back the tracks with his vocals over them and the rest, as they say, is history. Three singles came out of the album: “Alive“, “Even Flow” and “Jeremy“. “Alive” dealt with a son discovering his real father had passed away and that he had in fact been raised by his stepfather; a story that Eddie Vedder would years later reveal was a story from his own life. “Even Flow“, their second single released, tells the story about homelessness. Their last single, and probably their most popular on the album ( Although not this fan’s favorite ) “Jeremy” tells the listeners the story of a depressed teen who takes his own life in front of his entire classroom. Eddie Vedder got the idea after reading about the story out of the newspaper. It’s the idea that a person can kill themselves to get their revenge against the cruel world they live in, and all’s they get out of it is a small one paragraph write-up in the local paper. In the song’s award winning video, its starts off stating “63 degrees and cloudy in a suburban neighborhood“, then in the end it states the same thing. Indicating that nothing changes, life goes on as it always has.
Pearl Jam will be to my kids what bands like Led Zeppelin is for me.
Although they only released these three songs as singles, the album as a whole is full of great songs. With songs like “Once“, “Oceans“, “Black” and “Why Go“; Pearl Jam made it clear to the world that this band was not going to be going anywhere for a while. I get the same feeling when I listen to the album now as to when I first heard it at the age of thirteen. With Eddie Vedder’s powerful lyrics and Mike McCready‘s howling guitar solos, I personally feel that Pearl Jam will be to my kids what bands like Led Zeppelin is for me. “Ten“, which was named after Mookie Blaylock‘s jersey number, has become one of the highest selling rock albums of all time, going 13x platinum and staying on the Billboard charts for more than two years. I strongly suggest if you haven’t heard this album in a while, throw on that old flannel shirt of yours, dust this alternative gem off and give it listen. If for whatever reason, you do not own this album, feel free to pick it up here.
Special kilScene Correspondent