Pearl Jam-20 Years Since Ten Continues

This weekend, The Appetizer concludes our celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pearl Jam. I do love that the 20th anniversary of their debut album “Ten” is in the year 2010. I don’t think that was planned, but it’s awesome. Like I said last week, PJ has been one of my all-time favorite bands since I was a kid. Some things stick with you through adolescence, young adulthood, college and afterwards. Their music is one of those things.

Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready
I think it has a lot to do with growing and maturing with the music. When Pearl Jam first formed, they were a group of 4-5 guys in their early 20s trying to figure out what was inside them, who they were, what type of art they really wanted to express. Mike McCready, the lead guitarist, was influenced in his riffs on Ten by Ace Frehley and Robbie Krieger, so much so that by his own admission he copied some of their riffs directly for his part in “Alive.” Throughout the record you can hear the influences of McCready in his guitar playing. Fast-forward twenty years and what do you hear? Now you hear his influence coming through in other bands and other songs. Over the course of the last 6-8 albums, McCready has created his own sound. The influences are still there, but they’re matured beyond being something that he sounds like and grown into a reference point from back in time. That’s maturity. There’s things in my life, decisions I’ve made, choices good and bad that have led me to where I am. When I was a teenager, I looked to people for clear-cut choices and answers to every specific thing I faced. Sometimes those answers were clear and right. Sometimes not. Now those answers are still needed, but I have reference points for what works and what doesn’t. I have my own philosophies about what I believe in and why I am how I am. We all do. We’ve grown and are continuing to grow. That’s maturity.

This weekend I don’t want to just celebrate the band Pearl Jam, or the music from the last 20 years. I do want that, but I don’t want to let that just be it. I hope that’s not all that comes across. I want to showcase the evolution (easter egg there for those who tune in to the show this weekend) of their music, their songwriting, the fullness of this great rock icon that to longtime fans like myself are so much more than just the hit songs from 1990-1996 (the hey-day if you will). Even their latest album Backspacer has a blend of harder-rock songs, middle of the road ballads, and softer story-driven tracks. Ten had elements of that. But people don’t remember the tracks like Oceans, Release, and others. It’s music for people who love beautiful music, not regurgitated, processed rock and/or mainstream commercial garbage. This weekend I don’t want to just celebrate the band Pearl Jam, or the music from the last 20 years. I do want that, but I don’t want to let that just be it. I hope that’s not all that comes across. I want to showcase the evolution (easter egg there for those who tune in to the show this weekend) of their music, their songwriting, the fullness of this great rock icon that to longtime fans like myself are so much more than just the hit songs from 1990-1996 (the hey-day if you will). Even their latest album Backspacer has a blend of harder-rock songs, middle of the road ballads, and softer story-driven tracks. Ten had elements of that. But people don’t remember the tracks like Oceans, Release, and others. It’s music for people who love beautiful music, not regurgitated, processed rock and/or mainstream commercial garbage. I’m sorry, but I can’t listen to commercial radio anymore. I thought about putting The Appetizer out there for commercial stations to run, but their programming is counter-intuitive and counter-productive to what music is. Music is art, it’s original, it’s not box-shaped. Commercial radio plays the same 15-25 songs all day, every day and the music it does feature from great bands like Pearl Jam doesn’t do the bands justice for their overall sound and reflect the truest artistic value of the albums. That is, unless the radio hits are the only things on the albums worth listening to. Those exceptions are too prevalent. Pearl Jam doesn’t fit that mold, nor can you or I squeeze them into that box. That’s a glorious thing.

This weekend on The Appetizer I’m concluding this special celebration with some great music from 1997 onward from PJ including non-radio tracks like Low Light (one of my absolute faves from Yield), Down (a b-side from their I Am Mine single), Ghost (a great driving rock track from Riot Act), Hard To Imagine, and Parachutes (one of my new faves from their self-titled release) and a whole lot more. If you’re a closet fan, you’ll love the show this weekend. If you’re only one familiar with a few tracks, I think it will be something that makes you more of a fan. If you don’t know their music at all, there will certainly be some songs you like and probably some you don’t. That’s ok. I do feel confident that this is music that needs to be heard and showcased. That’s what music fans do. We hear something, we like it, we tell others about it. We do the same thing with movies, restaurants, theater, books, etc.

So let me know what you think about this Pearl Jam series. You can do that by commenting here, emailing me directly (address at www.appetizerradio.com) or going to our Facebook page and commenting there. I’d really like to hear your perspective and thoughts. Thanks.

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DGrantSmith

Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

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