I woke up on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 saying to myself, “Today is truly going to be a great day.”
And I was right. The dining hall had crispy Belgian waffles for breakfast, the sun was shining and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for 2017. Immediately one band came to my mind as I scrolled down the list of nominees. Then, in the center of the page, I beheld the most beautiful sight: Pearl Jam.
For many years I have eagerly waited for Pearl Jam’s eligibility, and I knew that once 2016 hit, a nomination would be theirs. There was no doubt in my mind that they would be nominated, for they are one of the greatest rock bands in history and my personal favorite of all-time. The extent of their superiority will certainly be discussed later. I have been very fortunate to see Pearl Jam three times in concert and can honestly affirm that their sky-high skill level and dynamite performances warrant induction into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame.
The Seattle rockers deserve the honor of induction the most out of any band/performer listed. The band consists of singer/frontman Eddie Vedder (my favorite musician of all-time), bassist Jeff Ament, guitarist Mike McCready, guitarist Stone Gossard, drummer Matt Cameron (former Soundgarden drummer, joined in 1998) and keyboardist Boom Gaspar (joined in 2002). They are such a no-brainer choice, that the question is really who the other four bands/artists will be. A brief introduction is in order, though, to completely grasp Pearl Jam’s intense talent and ability to create music that goes unparalleled by other groups and artists.
Before they formed in 1990, future Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were in another band called Mother Love Bone. After the tragic death of Andrew Wood, frontman/singer of Mother Love Bone, the group disbanded. Long story short, Pearl Jam was born, and the band released its first album Ten in 1991 to immense commercial success, selling more than 13 million copies. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam redefined a generation and altered the rock music scene and brought Seattle grunge into the mainstream. Ten was only the beginning – 25 years later PJ has produced ten studio albums (5 have been #1 and all have been top 5), has played 968 shows in more than 38 countries, and has many more years left in the tank for more glorious music.
In 1994, PJ even filed a suit against Ticketmaster, claiming that the company was a monopoly. Pearl Jam had argued that their fans had no other alternatives to purchasing tickets, and therefore had no way to avoid the high ticket prices established by the company. Though they lost, Pearl Jam still went on tour in 1995 without using Ticketmaster. This act of defiance for their fans is a powerful testament to the band’s character, loyalty, and love for those who support them. As a fan, knowing that your favorite band genuinely cares about you means the entire world.
The above biography alone justifies induction, but my case advocating for Pearl Jam has only begun. I have been a HUGE Pearl Jam fan since my freshman year of high school. I came across “Jeremy,” an iconic Pearl Jam song off of Ten, on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ‘90s and was instantly hooked to their sound and of course the band members. A few days later, I browsed the channels on my TV that I don’t normally watch. It was in this absent-minded search that a channel caught my eye – VH1 Classic. Pearl Jam Twenty, an incredible movie commemorating Pearl Jam’s 20th year as a band, was on, and I decided to watch it. From that crucial moment, I fell in love with Pearl Jam and was immediately consumed with this extreme excitement that can only be produced after the discovery of something special, particularly a new band.
I was a madwoman after that – I just HAD to see Pearl Jam in concert. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that my goal of seeing them live was fully realized. October 25, 2013 can easily be labeled as one of the best nights of my life (the others will be explained later). My dad bought the tickets as an early Sweet 16 birthday present for me because my birthday is on October 29, and the fact that it was in Hartford, Connecticut, which is about 3 hours from my house, shows how incredible my dad is. No birthday present will ever beat that one, and I am eternally grateful. Words cannot express how exhilarating, awesome, beautiful, and magical their show was – my love for their music had reached a new level. Hearing “Immortality” made my life, for that is one of my favorite songs, and PJ played a powerhouse setlist with beauties like “Sometimes,” “Corduroy,” “Last Exit,” “Sirens,” “Unthought Known,” “Come Back,” “Save You,” “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns,” “Crazy Mary,” “Given to Fly,” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” and “Indifference.” That night could be described as a turning point in my life because from then on Pearl Jam was undeniably my favorite band of all-time and always will be. I’ve used the term turning point loosely in my life, but I am dead serious when I tell you that the concert changed me for the better. After 10/25/13, I was bitten with the concert bug and desperately wanted to see Pearl Jam again.
Never forgetting how insanely perfect PJ is live, I checked everyday for any news of an upcoming tour, and finally during my senior year of high school they went on tour to celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band. 25 consecutive, trailblazing and unbelievable years of music. First, I saw PJ at Madison Square Garden on May 1st with my dad. Wow is all I can muster when I think of the setlist they churned out. “Release,” “Off He Goes,” “In Hiding,” “The End,” “Footsteps,” “Rats,” “I Got ID,” “Wishlist,” “Crown of Thorns,” “Jeremy,” “Rockin’ in the Free World,” to name just a few. It was like they had read my mind. Every time a song came on I lightly to moderately hit my dad in the arm with excitement and astonishment at the song choices. Because Pearl Jam is a very socially and politically aware and involved band, they added a special addition to the song “Wishlist” where they roasted Trump, which was amazing and hysterical.
Even though that was one of the best nights of my life, it came at time of great personal loss. My grandma had passed away just a few months prior, and I was still grieving heavily. I was extremely close to her, and her sudden death deeply affected me. However, during and after the show, I no longer felt sad about her passing. Somehow, I felt closure in regards to her death – instead of pain, I experienced happiness when I thought of the memories I have shared with my wonderful grandma. Life was beautiful again for me. This is living proof that music heals all wounds and demonstrates the power and significance Pearl Jam holds not just in my life but millions of other people’s lives. I cannot express how truly thankful I am to PJ for helping me through the toughest part of my life. Hearing “Release” brought me to tears, especially when Eddie Vedder sang my favorite lyric of all-time, “I’ll ride the wave where it takes me.” I have a sterling silver bracelet of that lyric, picked that as my senior quote for the yearbook, put it on my graduation cap, and I plan to get a tattoo of it.
Secondly, this past summer I saw Pearl Jam at Fenway Park on August 5 with my dad. This historic concert was the first time PJ had performed at Fenway, so it was very fitting that I was a part of this moment for the band. We traveled 4 hours to see them, and I certainly would travel to the ends of the earth to do so. It was another best night of my life with dynamites like “Release,” “Long Road,” “All Those Yesterdays,” “Daughter,” “Why Go,” “Faithful,” “Grievance,” “I am Mine,” “Masters of War,” “Society,” “Just Breathe,” “Life Wasted,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Strangest Tribe,” and “Baba O’Riley.” Since the concert came at another crucial point in my life with college looming ahead, hearing “Release” brought more tears to my eyes and helped me feel at ease about the big change coming my way. It was an outdoor concert of epic proportions and a beautiful night that I will NEVER forget.
There is no other band in existence that gives me greater joy and peace of mind than Pearl Jam. Not only is their music fantastic and constantly evolving, but also their lyrics are so meaningful, complex, and genius that you have to wonder how does one band possess so much talent. As a writer, the first aspect of a song I notice is the lyrics – sub-par lyrics almost always results in a rejection from me. Pearl Jam does not know how to create a poorly written song, for with any random Pearl Jam song, I am given a song written with purpose and value, which makes all the difference. PJ does not make music just to make money. They make music because it’s what they love to do and what they excel at. Money is an added bonus. If PJ cared more about money than music, than they would not have tackled Ticketmaster, or they would not have changed and experimented with their sound as much as they have. PJ is the real deal.
It baffles my mind how Pearl Jam can harness such beauty and emotion into their music, and from a fan’s standpoint it means the world knowing that the people behind the sound care about the same issues you do and believe in the same principles you do. Pearl Jam doesn’t only sing about love or women – they sing about so much more like politics, the environment, etc., which is something that I find refreshing considering what many artists lean towards. It’s a crime that many people of my generation do not know PJ. My friends only know Pearl Jam because I CONSTANTLY talk about them (to my friends’ dismay) and wear my 8 Pearl Jam t-shirts way too often. I just cannot stop talking about Pearl Jam; it amazes me how my friends have put up with it all these years. But, music is essential to life and PJ’s music simply keeps me going.
If I’m having a bad day or if I’m stressed out, sitting down and listening to Eddie’s voice, Matt’s drums, Mike and Stone’s guitars, and Jeff’s bass immediately calms me down and makes me feel better. By pressing play on my phone, I am transported, carried far away from the trivialities of reality. Still, I can always count on Pearl Jam to rescue and bring me back to my senses and remember the importance of love and happiness.
All of Pearl Jam’s songs carry messages and lessons that I will always keep with me. Of course there is plenty of beautiful and significant music out there, but none like theirs. In my eyes nothing can touch Pearl Jam or will ever be able to. I would rather see them 100 times in a row than see anyone else. Lyrics are the first thing in a song that I pay attention to, and the fact that with any random Pearl Jam song, I am given a song written with purpose and meaning makes all the difference. For example, in “I Am Mine” off of Riot Act Eddie Vedder sings, “I know I was born, and I know that I’ll die. The in between is mine. I am mine.” Pearl Jam doesn’t write songs for the sake of writing songs; they create art that has the ability to transcend anything that has been created before, and I wholeheartedly thank them for that.
As performers, Pearl Jam is the greatest live band I have ever seen in person and heard online. They are better live than in studio (which is seemingly impossible) and always put on an explosively energetic, insanely awesome show. One of the best qualities of Pearl Jam is their ability to surprise their fans. Each show comes with an entirely different setlist – every concert is different, which keeps fans in suspense as they guess what songs will be played and challenges the band to remember all of their songs. Their shows are a solid three hours long with about 35 songs, so you get more than your money’s worth when you go to a Pearl Jam show. I’ve been to many concerts before, but the atmosphere at a PJ show goes unrivaled. No matter how obscure the song is, the entire crowd knows all the words and belts out along with Eddie Vedder. I get chills thinking of specific moments at shows where Eddie stops singing and the audience continues without him, or when the crowd’s singing gets extremely loud during a crowd-favorite. Nothing beats these moments because nothing beats Pearl Jam.
Clearly, Pearl Jam deserves to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Over the course of 25 years, Pearl Jam has transitioned from Seattle’s finest band to an internationally adored and acclaimed band. If you still don’t believe in them after this pouring out of my soul, then nothing will ever convince you to vote for them. I have never been so sure of something in my life, and I hope that you all take my advice and vote for them and begin listening to Pearl Jam because it will positively change your life forever.
Long Live Pearl Jam. ☺