Saturday, June 2, 2012

To Love a Band

Its twenty years ago.  I'm thirteen years old.  I've just started listening to rock the year prior.  A friend of mine gives me a CD and tells me to "listen to this, it will change your life."  That CD was Ten by Pearl Jam.

She was more right than she'll ever know.  From the first listen, I was hooked.  Every time a video came on, I was glued to the screen, memorizing the words and sounds of every song.  Then came the import singles.  They actually had songs that weren't on the album.  So I of course had to have all of them.  Since they were imports, they cost just as much as the regular whole album.  The first was Jeremy, which had the single Yellow Ledbetter.  I had no clue what he was saying, but the tone and the song was just pure awesome.  (I did later figure it out).

For their next album VS, I was there day one, to get it.  Same as Vitalogy and No Code and Yield.

No Code really spoke to me.  I always felt I could write a screen play around that album and make it the sound track.

When Yield came out, I knew that this band would always be my favorite band.  Its my single favorite album to this day.  When ever I listen to it, I still want to drop what I'm doing, and scream "I LOVE THIS FUCKING BAND!"  It probably helps that this was the tour that I first saw them.

It was Birmingham in 1998.  My friend Peace and I drove down to see Mudhoney open for Pearl Jam.  I had been to other concerts.  Big hard rock concerts, where there were fireworks, blow up voodoo characters and what not.  I had no idea what to expect from Pearl Jam.  What they had for the stage were oriental rugs, speakers and the band.  And it was perfect.  For the final song and encore, they played Baba O'Riley.  I left with a screen printed poster (that's apparently super rare) that hangs on my office wall to this day.

I've seen them twice since then, and while both were awesome shows, they don't compare to the first time.

When it comes time to figure out my internet handle for chatrooms, video games and what not, I choose what I know.  pearl jam.  But reverse and add "of"  jamofpearls

More albums came out, Binaural, Riot Act, Peal Jam, and Backspacer.  I bought and loved all of them.

Cut to wedding planning, and I need to figure out what song I want to walk down the isle to.  Kell and I decided that we wanted custom music, and not the typical stuff played.  I go back and forth, and she finally tells me to go with Man of the Hour.  I fought it for a while, as that song came out right after a friend of mine had died.  I had listened to it over and over again after his death.  I finally agreed that it could be used for a wedding song.  And I'm glad I did.  It worked perfectly.  The first time that the musicians played it for me, I got a little teary eyed.  Kell's grooms gift to me was the Pearl Jam 20 hardcover book.  Our wedding date (by pure coincidence) was 10/22/11, Pearl Jam's anniversary.

This all brings me to asking do you know what it feels like to actually love a band?  Where you will follow their music for twenty plus years and into the future.  Where you feel proud of their accomplishments like they are a family member?  Where you hear a random playing of their song on a television show, and your heart swells?

That's been my twenty plus year relationship with Pearl Jam.

I've even considered naming my first born son Stone.


  1. I love this, and I love that you are so passionate about a band. I loved Pearl Jam before we met but seeing them through your eyes made that love grow more than I could have imagined. It's amazing to see how far they've come and that they aren't finished yet.

    I don't think I have a band, that I can say has touched my life more than they have, and seeing them through your eyes confirms that. My love for bands has some and gone, some still remain, but I think Pearl Jam is truly the strongest influence for me then, and now.


  2. Great post, brother! I love Pearl Jam myself, but clearly not on the level that you do. Ten was one of my first CDs I ever owned, and I got it for my 13th birthday, from my great grandmother of all people. It wasn't brand new, and I had heard all of the songs that were video/single featured up to Jeremy. I didn't realize how much other goodness was on that disc. You know how you tend to latch onto certain songs, and mine was "Black". I used to fall asleep with that on replay overnight, and wake up at 3am to "Doo doo doooo doo doo doo doooooooo". I think it still might've been on the first play.

    Needless to say, I need Versus when it came out. It's easy to forget that back in the day, even as hyped of a release as Vs. was, you rarely knew what the album looked like until you saw it in stores. If memory serves, the first print of that CD didn't actually say Versus anywhere on the cover or spine. Great grandmother had a dickens of a time finding it, and I didn't know to tell her to look for the one with the sheep on the front.

    I'll admit to being a shitty fan though. I did buy Vitalogy not too long after it came out, and was a little underwhelmed. Looking back on it, it was another classic. I sorta fell off the rails for a while, perhaps my 15 year old self couldn't stay attentive without music videos constantly jabbing me in the eyes and telling me what good music is.

    They still remain one of my favorite bands. I'd love to get as caught up on the catalog as you are, because I'm sure I'm missing some gems that didn't get radio play.

    I do know what it's like to love a band, although most people still can't figure out why the band I do love is 311. I hope the 311 Day trip to Memphis we all took made you understand a little better, but it's possible that it made you hate them, since a 5 hour show is a freaking physical ordeal.

    Falling in love with a band is equal parts good music to good memories. Sometimes the music itself makes the memories, and other times, it's just the soundtrack to the memories. Except for Nickelback. That's on Lucifer's iPod, and he puts their catalog on shuffle when it's time for the peehole raping.

  3. First off, I'm sorry that I'm just now seeing your response Gar. You would think that Google would email me or something. At any rate...great response.

    I think everyone needs that one band to latch on to. I feel sorry for the ones who don't have it.