PEARL JAM – TEN
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Pearl Jam’s Ten was the record that changed everything for me. Up until 3rd grade, I was on a strict diet of New Kids on the Block, Madonna, Amy Grant, and Mariah Carey. But 1991 was a big year! My brother, Mike, was having his bar mitzvah and he found it imperative that I learn to dance. He had just discovered Pearl Jam. Yes, I learned to do the running man to “Even Flow”. Don’t ask me how that works! But that’s how everything changed. I was hooked and ready for rock n’ roll!
I self-enforced a strict dress code of flannel shirts and Doc Martens every day. At over night camp, I had so many flannel shirts with me that I was able to dress all 9 of my bunk mates in flannel for the talent show where we performed–you guessed it!–“Even Flow”. Cause at 9 years old, I knew all the words. Most adults have no idea what Eddie Vedder is saying!
In fifth grade I had a dream I was in a band and told my mom I had to learn to play guitar. Some of the first songs I learned to play were “Alive”, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”, and “Nothing Man”. By the time I was really rockin’ these jams, Pearl Jam was not cool with my peers. It was all about Nirvana and Green Day. But I stayed the course! I was a super fan. I was in the Ten Club. I had a crush on Eddie Vedder. I knew all the trivia (Ten is named for the jersey number of the band’s favorite basketball player, Mookie Blaylock!).
For my punk and emo years, I squelched and hid my adoration for the band that helped push me in the direction I’m still living today–singer, songwriter, recording engineer. But if I’m truly honest, part of why I moved to Seattle after college was because of Pearl Jam. How could I not want to be in the city that so shaped the band members’ lives and careers? I got to Seattle and worked in a recording studio and at Easy Street records. Imagine my amazement to find myself working on records with Kurt Bloch (of the Fastbacks), who I knew from the documentary Hype! Rumor was that the guys from PJ would shop at Easy Street all the time, but I never saw any of them! Until my last week on the job… I had less than a week before I was moving to LA, and still no sightings! And there he was… Jeff Ament. I rang him up. I actually checked his ID! I didn’t even realize it was him! Time stood still. It felt like I was staring at his name for eons, but it was probably only a handful of seconds. A little piece of me felt like every decision I made was worth it and the universe was letting me know it would take care of my dreams.
I haven’t listened to Ten in a long time. “Black” is still one of my favorite songs. “Porch” is probably still one of Mike’s favorite songs. “Jeremy” is still a classic, and I promise to sing it at karaoke this week. But, I think it’s finally time to say…