Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pearl Jam: Hall of Fame and Memories

People lose their minds every year when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations are announced. Whether they argue about how so and so can get in before such in such or whether or not someone is actually Rock and Roll, I find the whole thing stupid. The very idea of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not Rock and Roll. And the very idea of Rock and Roll is about a mix of influences and genres and artists. So there's no argument that can be made about the nominees that can't also be quickly dismissed. Instead of arguing, how about just celebrating music and leave it at that? Anyway, this year, one of the nominees is Pearl Jam, and as a result, this video of them playing an in store set at a Tower Records in NYC in November of '91, just before they really took off, has been making the rounds.

The video has been on YouTube for years and you can find edited clips of the songs separately, but somehow I had never seen it. This is the band who's music was embracing me around this very time, when I most needed it. In the video, they even open with what is one of my favorite B-sides, "Wash," a song I wrote a whole short screenplay around. This is the band that made me feel I actually wasn't alone when I was in the depth of the agony and self-loathing comfort of loneliness.  I wouldn't go so far as to say they saved my life, but there was a time that music was the only thing that made it bearable and this band, particularly their first two albums, were a huge part of that. 

A couple of years ago I wrote a thing about 5 shows I'd go back in time to see. I've seen Pearl Jam live, twice. The first time could hardly be beat since I was working the show as a- I don't know what you call it, but I was putting barricades up. It was October 7th, 1996, during the No Code tour, at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium. I got paid, had backstage access and saw the show. At one point, the guy I was hanging out with and I decided to go watch from the side of the stage, where we climbed up the scaffolding. There was a hurricane on the way (I can't remember which and it doesn't matter enough to look it up) so the weather was weird and windy. Eddie's hair was in the wind and the music was amazing. I may have taken a half tab of acid. 

After the show, we were drinking water under the tent that had been set up out back and making fun of some asshole we saw in a floppy hat, hanging out by a van talking to a bunch of girls. "What an asshole, with a floppy hat" we were saying. And laughing. Laughing at the asshole in the floppy hat. Then, quietly, slowly, "wait. . . is. Is that? Dude, that's Eddie Vedder." And we ran towards him looking like what I imagine every body guard is trained to look out for. We didn't get tackled or anything, but his people were trying to get him into the van before the shit the fan. I yelled out "GREAT SHOW, ED!!!" and he said "thanks," but didn't stop getting into the van. 

Anyway, as great as that was, I would put this in store show on that list of shows I'd go back in time for. To see them play in a store like that, and then hang out with fans, before that would prove impossible, would be amazing. I'd love to do it, knowing what's to come.  Maybe get a signed album and say thanks for the memories that haven't happened yet. 

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