Sunday, June 7, 2009

Slice of Life: Pearl Jam

Watching Pearl Jam on Conan O'Brian earlier this month got me all nostalgic. It was in my formative years that they hit it big. I didn't get into them right away, but I was pretty much hooked by the time their second album, Vs. (or as I insist on calling it, "Five Against One," its alternative/original title), dropped in 1993.

16 years later, it's still, beginning to end, one of the best albums I've ever heard. It struck a chord with me at the time in a way that music hadn't really before. I was in the "dark" days of my adolescence, days of radical mood swings and melancholy. There was a bit of anger starting to form, too. Just a wee bit bubbling beneath the surface. Add in some unrequited love and me and "Vs." was a match made in musical heaven. (I'll spare you the song-by-song break down, except to say that "Elderly Woman..." is still my favorite song ever and I must have handwritten the lyrics to "Indifference" a hundred times on my school folders..."How much difference does it make?" God, I was dramatic.)

I remember the night a few months after Vs. was released when Pearl Jam took over the radio. It was Easter Sunday, 1994. They played a concert in Georgia and it was broadcast live on many stations in my area. Not only did I sit in bed and listen to the whole thing, but I taped it too. I think it took at least two tapes for all of it. Of course, they played all my favorite songs, every single one. I was hooked for every minute, including the 45 minutes or so after the concert, when lead singer Eddie Vedder went into a trailer somewhere and DJ'ed, playing songs by some of his favorite bands, complete with Vedder commentary in between, of course.

They say that the sense of smell is the sense most intricately linked with memory. I'd cast a vote for auditory over olfactory because there's nothing like hearing a song that IMMEDIATELY takes you back. A song that makes you feel everything you were feeling at an exact, particular moment in your life, whether it was 1 or 15 years ago. And for me, someone who from time to time has trouble remembering what you just said to me the other day, this is remarkable.

I am sure that this is not unique to me. I'm sure it's true for others. But this night and that music stands out so clearly in my mind. So vividly. And it's strange that I don't think I ever met anyone that listened to that concert, too. Someday I will, maybe.

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Ben Cetera by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.