Magic Jewball

all signs point to no

 

Remind me who Pearl Jam is again?

Filed under : Music
On April 16, 2006
At 9:33 pm
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Did you see Pearl Jam on SNL this week? No? You have a better social life than I do, clearly. Anyway, while I was watching, I couldn’t help thinking how much respect I have for those guys and how they used to be on top of the world but threw it all away in the name of cred. But then I thought, wait a minute! What exactly is the difference between a band that “decided” not to be successful anymore and a band who just stiffed? Maybe Candlebox just decided not to sell millions of records too! If you don’t remember Candlebox, be sure to substitute some other Pearl Jam rip-off band no one remembers. Say, Seven Mary Three. Don’t remember them either? Duh, that’s the point.

But really, Pearl Jam could have been a lot more successful or at least maintained a certain level of rock-godliness. Instead, they took concrete steps to lower the volume of popularity bit by bit. First, they stopped appearing in their own videos. No more flannel-clad-guy jumps into crowd for you! Then they stopped doing videos at all. They did just a few interviews and their albums became decidedly more, shall we say, experimental. Each album sold less than the last one. If I could share with you the frenzy that greeted their second album, Vs., which sold 950,000 copies in its first week, well, this very page would be on fire.

I know because I worked at a record store at the time. The album was rushed out so quickly that the first batch we got didn’t even have the name of the CD on it because they hadn’t decided in time.

Soon, they all started to seem so grouchy. “This is not for you,” their next album said. They looked kind of mad and hounded all the time. They ranted about Ticketmaster and then ended up playing in a muddy field that was impossible to get to and had no parking. Then they got philosophical and wrote about being up in a tree and God’s hands pushing paint. Eventually, you started to get their drift. “Hey! Why are these guys popular?” Pretty soon you forgot they were even putting out albums.

When I watched their performance, I wondered, “Are they pushing a new album or are they just playing for fun? Do I care? Why did Jeremy speak in class that day?” But then I remembered driving to the city each day, the wind flying in my windows and through my hair, my stereo blasting “Black.” No one sang with as much feeling as Eddie except me singing along with Eddie. And oh yeah, I was wearing plaid flannel.

 

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