April 2, 2012

Pearl Jam (Twenty)

i was born in 1980, so i came into adolescence right at the onset of the early 90's grunge boom. and i embraced it wholeheartedly. plaid flannel and thrift store clothes. beat up Chucks. crying over Kurt and wearing black to school the rest of the week. Headbanger's Ball on MTV. (MTV all the time, actually) Nirvana, Hole, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, even the one-off Temple of the Dog... but most of all, Pearl Jam.

oh, Pearl Jam. i was a little young for Ten, but then Vs. came out when i was 13 and it was love at first listen. and i was obsessed with Eddie Vedder. i had a bulletin board plastered with photos of him ripped out of magazines. (my only major brush with the law- i would rip them out of magazines at the grocery store! such a rebel.)
anytime PJ was on MTV, i was there at the VCR hitting record. i had VHS tape after VHS tape of their music videos, their legendary Unplugged show, VMA award show performances... anything. i was so fascinated with & intrigued by them, by EV. his persona was so intense, he was this dark, angry, explosive, beautiful man... something this brand new teenager had never encountered before, and i didn't know what to make of him. to me he was a hard-shelled, impenetrable enigma. which is a great kind of person to crush on, really.

eventually, my musical tastes & priorities changed and my obsession slowly ebbed to nothing much. when my cd's were stolen in 2003, i didn't bother replacing the PJ ones. when Matt and i moved in together, i didn't even bother importing his PJ cds into my iTunes. they were just a part of my past.
i had heard that 2011 was PJ's 20th anniversary, and that the great Cameron Crowe had made a documentary in celebration. it was on American Masters one night and i caught about 10 minutes of it, enough to make me reserve it in my Netflix queue. i finally got a chance to watch it last week, and wow. total nostalgia attack. suddenly i was 14 again, sitting in front of the TV with my finger poised over the record button. the movie looks and feels like the 90's- crazy collaged multi-media, frenetic editing, tv clips and interviews from that era. you can tell this was the guy who made Singles. for me, the film totally evokes the energy and feeling of that time in music & culture.
also interesting was how the movie kinda revealed a little more of EV's personality & chronicled his maturation. the dark, angry explosiveness i used to see on TV seemed to be masking a naïve, vulnerable guy. in the early clips it manifests as a hyper little boy acting out, but in the later interviews, it's a mature, introverted tenderness that is really endearing.

plus he's aged really well, yes?

ps- while PJ fell off my radar, i absolutely love the Into the Wild soundtrack, which is all EV. my favorites from that album are Far Behind and Rise, but they're all worth a listen. the cd packaging is sweet too.

pps- (5/25/2012) i just finished reading the accompanying book Pearl Jam Twenty. while uber-detailed, it was really great...
an amazing story of carving your own creative path by sticking to your gut and maintaining artistic & personal integrity. inspiring.

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