Pearl Jam's epic, rain-delayed set at Chicago's Wrigley Field in July won't be the only time the band connects with baseball in 2013. A partnership with Fox Sports will include extensive use of 48 Pearl Jam songs across the promotional and music beds for this month's World Series coverage, set to air Oct. 23-31 on Fox, and feature the group's music throughout November as Artist of the Month across all Fox Sports properties.
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The deal includes all 12 tracks from Lightning Bolt, plus 36 songs from the Pearl Jam catalog, spanning all the band's albums (with the exception of 2002's politically charged Riot Act). Catalog highlights include "Animal," "Better Man," "Black," "Blood," "Corduroy," "Daughter," "Even Flow" and "even goes as far as 'State of Love and Trust,'" says Christian Fresco, product manager for Pearl Jam's Monkeywrench label. Fox Sports Music VP Janine Kerr, an avid PJ fan, adds: "They said, 'What songs would you want?' I said, 'How many can I have?' So we gave them a wish list and they said 'yes' to all."
"There was a period of time when we didn't license much music," Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis says. "But for the past many years, we consider licensing requests using the same criteria we do for everything else: Do we like it? Would the fans like it? Does it provide a different forum for fans to hear the music? Is it something we can get behind? The band loves baseball, so this one was a no-brainer."
Fox Sports and MLB have done wide-ranging deals with major rock artists during the past few years, including Jack White during the National League Championship coverage and 30 songs from the Who as the World Series soundtrack, both in 2012. But the Pearl Jam partnership is the largest in terms of number of songs, and perhaps the most personal to boot-not only is frontman Eddie Vedder a lifelong Cubs fan (he brought out legendary Cub Ernie Banks during the Wrigley gig), he's become close friends with Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck as well. The band played St. Louis during the 2010 leg of its Backspacer tour, where Vedder gave Buck an onstage shout-out and hung out with him for a couple of hours after the show.
"We literally just talked about baseball," Buck says. "It was the greatest thrill of my life. You'll hear certain guys say they're a Yankee fan or an NFL fan, and maybe they know some stuff but they're not die-hards. This guy's just a legit, die-hard baseball fan, and I've never had a more relaxed, normal conversation in that kind of atmosphere."
Pearl Jam's songs will be featured in all types of music beds during the World Series, from opening teases and commercial bumpers to montages, as well as additional promotional inventory across Fox prime-time and cable networks in November.
"Any time you get a chance to set the visuals to this kind of music, you want to jump on the opportunity," Fox Sports executive producer John Entz says. "We'll have Joe do the intros, too, so it won't feel like he's saying words someone wrote about Pearl Jam. He'll really mean them."