The 'Pearls' Of Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard discuss some of their favorite songs from Pearl Jam's new self-titled album.

"Gone" : A mid-tempo Vedder rocker chronicling a man desperate for a fresh start.

Vedder: "[We were in Atlantic City and] I wanted to play a song the next night. I went to learn it and it didn't come right away, so I started playing something else, and it was ["Gone"]. What's nice about it was that it was done in an hour or so, with backgrounds. I played it the next night at the show. The idea was that this guy was leaving Atlantic City and needing to find a new life without his past, without his possessions, and not really looking for more possessions. Because it takes place in a car, it's probably very similar to "Rearviewmirror" in a way. But I think this car is a hybrid, because I think he's only got one tank of gas, so I want him to go far."

"Come Back" : A simple love song, whose subject aches for the presence of an absent partner.

Gossard: "Ed had a really strong lyric. It's a powerful emotional state for him to be singing about. He really felt like it had to be perfect. We didn't spend a lot of time cutting it. But in terms of getting the guitars right, the thing that kept happening was that we kept pulling everything off. As soon as we'd put something down, it was like, 'No, just let it be the drums, bass, vocals and these simple chords.'" We've been playing it in rehearsal and we're still learning it and exploring it."

Severed Hand : A surprisingly funky tune about a man hell-bent on doing whatever he pleases.

Vedder: "I started writing that one in a hotel room in Virginia the same night I wrote [the "Riot Act" track] "I Am Mine." It was before we played our first American show after Roskilde. I was just kind of holed up in a room and it was lightning outside. I had it around for years and didn't know where it was supposed to go next. I think we even tried doing a bit of it for "Riot Act" but probably didn't spend more than an hour or two on it. It had been sitting in port for awhile. I just wanted to get thing out on the water. We finally got it going and then it turned into a fucking speedboat."

Gossard: "That song is pretty intense in terms of the perspective of someone who says, 'F*** it. I'm going to go lose my mind. That's how I want to live right now.' It's a little bit anthemic. It's not necessarily embracing it, but everyone can relate to that feeling of, 'F*** it. I'm going to go get drunk.' That's an intense perspective to have. It's cool that it's balanced out on the rest of the record with some real characters."

"Inside Job" : The album's epic closer, featuring the first McCready lyrics to appear on a Pearl Jam album.

Vedder: "When you get overwhelmed by the current state of affairs and the time we're living in, it seems like one way out is to kind of look within. If nothing else, affect some change in yourself. If you're in a position of feeling pretty together, at that point, then you feel like you can make a contribution to society, as opposed to being a f***ing wreck and just adding to the pile of destructive forces you can find yourself surrounded by. And that's exactly, verbatim, what's in the song really, like "shining a human light." That's all from Mike."


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