Monday, April 24, 2006

The Return of Pearl Jam


When I first moved to Seattle back in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam was still riding the wave of Ten, the first album that launched the band into stratosphere. The band didn’t like the whole stardom thing and have made progressively more challenging albums while maintaining a privacy that few superstar bands can keep. They have also been politically active -- working for the Democrats in 2000 and 2004, fighting for various causes they believe in since the beginning, and in taking Ticketmaster to the Supreme Court in an unsuccessful antitrust lawsuit.

More than most other bands (and in the tradition of U2), they have sought to use their fame to make the world a better place. But they refuse to do so at the expense of their lives as fathers, friends, and artists. They have refused to become a commodity.

"If we can survive and play music and put out records and play live shows, and live our lives as family members, community members and friends-that’s the goal. If we’re able to do it within this industry, that’s even better. It could even be a sign that the industry isn’t too polluted."

So, with the imminent release of their new album, they are again facing the bright lights of stardom that they have rejected for so long. The first single has been releases and has gone to the top of the Modern Rock charts. They are getting radio play for the first time in years. They are even featured in Newsweek, which the basis for this post.

Hell, they even made a video for their song, "World Wide Suicide." Watch it here. You can watch "Life Wasted" here.

I saw Pearl Jam once in a very small club in Seattle that no longer exists. There were too many people in too small a space and the stage was small. The room was hot and everyone had a beer in their hand.

When Eddie Vedder began to sing the room was silent. His eyes rolled back in his head. He seemed to shake with the energy of the music flowing through him. I swore I was watching a shaman in the midst of trance. The collective angst of the all the 20-somethings in the audience was channeled through Vedder and the music. It was cathartic. We left that night and walked to our car feeling lighter, elevated, entranced.

I’ve never seen them live since. And I have only been a casual fan in the last several years (Live at Benaroya Hall was brilliant). Looks like its time to come back to an old friend.

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2 comments:

The Zero Boss said...

You're Seattle area? Trippy. I'm in Redmond.

If you're looking for a musical experience in which you can lose yourself, check out Hypatia Lake. They play locally, and are awesome.

The Zero Boss said...

Oops, nevermind - I see you up and moved to (ulp> Arizona. Ah well. I can send you a CD. :)