How many times have I said that MTV used to rock my world 20 years ago? I don’t know, but remember the last time I did, talking about the amazing performance of young Guns n’ Roses at the Ritz. Well, today I have to repeat myself, MTV used to rock, and was a very important contributor to my musical education back in the day.
Probably because circumstances have brought Pearl Jam back to my memory recently I’ve been remembering how much I used to love this band back in the 1990s. My favorite one at least until AEnima by Tool was released in autumn 1996 and turned into an obsession. Pearl Jam was everything to me, and their 3 first albums were the Bible. And of course, Eddie Vedder was THE man.
Not sure whether I told you the first time I was acquainted with the band was during their performance on the MTV music awards in 1992. Hell of a night, by the way! Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana almost ended fighting because of some female trouble between Stephanie Seymour (Axl’s girlfriend) and Cobain’s missus, Courtney junkie Love. On the other hands not only Pearl Jam played Jeremy, but also Red Hot Chili Peppers performed Give It Away, The Black Crowes played Remedy, and U2 were broadcast via satellite with Even Better Than The Real Thing. And GN’R played November Rain with Elton John. THAT was a ceremony.
Sometimes I behave very absent-minded and don’t put much attention into certain details. Some day I’ll write about it (I’ve discovered a good one today). I had seen a couple of Pearl Jam videos not focusing on them at all. It was the energy and rage of that performance what finally caught my attention and drove me nuts. Vedder’s voice wasn’t at his finest, but his attitude was irresistibly threatening, and you know what’s said, first time, first love.
From that moment I became devoted of the band, started bothering my friends to listen to them (only Diana did, and she’s been a diehard ever since), and also tried to find new acquaintances into the band and that musical movement. I was lucky on this regard.
Not sure why I bought my copy of Ten on vinyl. Probably because at that time it was still more common than CDs, and more copies were available, and also because it was better quality than cassette. I paid the same amount as you get charged for brand new re-issues, it was outrageous, but I accepted as there weren’t many options and wanted to have it badly. First time I listened to it I got freaked out because there was a repeated scratch in first song of side B, Oceans. I thought the copy was faulty but kept it all the same, however, thanks to my brother who took my vinyls without permission to a bar and lost them (first pressing Ten and Vitalogy, a drama), I had to buy another copy on vinyl 5-6 years ago, and the same scratch was there.
Whatever! In March 1992 Pearl Jam recorded an unplugged performance. Up to date, there had been a couple of shows, and the most remarkable one from my point of view was Eric Clapton’s, which become very popular thanks to the song Tears in Heaven inspired by the recent death of his son. Talking about an unplugged performance in 2014 is not interesting, but if you analyze the moment, the band, and the blurry concept of an unplugged performance in the day, Pearl Jam’s should to be recognized as the first rock band to dare adapting their wild and powerful sets to something milder. They were the reference to other bands which followed them, such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots or Kiss, to mention some.
I don’t think the audience knew exactly what they were about to witness, and sure many of them didn’t even give a shit about the band. It took almost two minutes to the band to start the show and ovation was exaggerated, way too much even for Americans, who really are very enthusiastic.
Pearl Jam played 7 songs, my top 3 included, 6 included in Ten, and State of Love and Trust, which was part of Singles soundtrack: Oceans, State of Love and Trust (not many songs in history have such a terrific title), Alive, Black, Jeremy, Even Flow and Porch. You can notice they weren’t recorded following that order, or maybe there were additional outtakes. If there was anyone who tough it was going to be a low and quiet show, he was completely wrong. Probably things get more under control afterwards, as no band got so insane on stage, as far as I can remember.
It’s weird because you know they’re playing fantastic, but at the same time, guitars are very low and drums and bass are most predominant. But it doesn’t matter. This show was a blast.
It was last Thursday night that I watched the unplugged again. My day had been a shit, flu was attacking, and needed something to cheer me up. This time I observed many details I hadn’t noticed before, and lots of memories stroke back, so hard, for 30 minutes I was 16-17 again, and this feeling moved me very much.
It is so amazing to relate moments of your life to music, I cannot conceive that there are people unable to mark relevant point in their lives in the same way and feel pity for them. When Pearl Jam were ruling my life, this was changing, and I was growing up. I felt in love with someone who used to sing me State of Love and Trust, and got disappointed listening to Animal and No Excuses. And then I met another guy who learned to love Pearl Jam with the passing of time, and introduced me to other bands which are now part of the soundtrack of my life. Because at the end of the day, life is made of experiences, memories and songs, and I try hard to compile a good one, no matter what.