Top Five Tuesday :: Pearl Jam

Talking about last songs to hear with Justin Hopkins (for his 10 Questions), and his mention of Pearl Jam’s Alive, got me thinking about the band and the songs of theirs that I love. Seeing how it is Tuesday, and Tuesday is Top Five day, it just seemed appropos that Pearl Jam would be this week’s feature. So, in what has turned out to be more than three sentences from me explaining why, here are my top five Pearl Jam songs of all-time (at least, for now):

5. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town

I just want to scream…hello…
My god it’s been so long, never dreamed you’d return.
But now here you are, and here I am.”

One afternoon I sat in my car writing in a paper journal about a boy, a memory and a broken heart. I was writing to make sense of it. I was writing it to clear the boy out of my heart. I was writing because it was all I could do. I had just seen him again, unexpectedly, and I felt that my heart would combust. This song came on, and though I know it was not about anything close to what I was going through, it spoke to me. I cried for a good long time, tears staining the pages and smearing the ink.

4. Just Breathe

Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love,
Some folks just have one,yeah, others, they’ve got none, huh-uh
.”

I fell in love with Eddie Veddar’s voice when I saw the film Into the Wild. Although I had been a fan of Pearl Jam before then I had never been moved in the way I was from those songs within that incredible film. This song reminds me of those songs, and seems to me that it could have been part of the soundtrack. This is also a song full of hope and love and joy that was all part of the reason I put it on the playlist I was making for my now postponed wedding reception. To me, this song speaks of the perception and realizations that come with age, when you realize the things in our lives that we are truly grateful for; this song feels like a celebration to that recognition.

3. Black

I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life,
I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky,
But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine
?”

So, yeah, I do not care if it is one of the most over-played songs of the 90’s, or if it is an obvious choice, or if it is not a choice a “fan” would make because honestly I never concern myself with such judgements on the art I love. This song is brilliant and beautiful and completely heart wrenching. This is one of the ultimate break-up songs, full of pain, full of angst, full of anger, and full of enormous heartbreak. This is the loss of one’s first love song if there ever was one, and yet it resonates still if it is the third or fourth love in life, and the loss and heartbreak at its ending. I love this song.

2. Nothingman

She once believed…in every story he had to tell…
One day she stiffened…took the other side…
Empty stares…from each corner of a shared prison cell…
One just escapes…one’s left inside the well…
And he who forgets…will be destined to remember…”

I did not truly hear this song, in that oh my stars my heart and soul hears it kind of way, until it was used during an ending of an episode of Californication. I will share the clip from said episode, with this song, along with the song itself because together it is one of the most moving moments on a television show I have ever seen. It still gets to me, rips me apart really, and subsequently the song does now, too. This song is amazingly beautiful and bittersweet, and now forever in my song favorites of all-time, and in my own life soundtrack.

Californication episode – with Nothingman – incredible television moment, one I can very personally and deeply relate to.

1. Alive

Oh, she walks slowly, across a young man’s room,
she said I’m ready…for you.
I can’t remember anything to this very day,
‘Cept the look, the look…”

Quite possibly the first song I ever heard of Pearl Jam’s, and most certainly the first song of theirs I loved. It speaks to the girl I was the first time I heard it. It speaks to the life I had growing up without my real father. It speaks to memories of that first love and first time. And, it speaks to the damn persistence that has always been a part of me and has always kept me living, kept me going, kept me alive.

This will always be my favorite song of theirs.

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