Title is one of my favorite songs...
My beau, Matt, and I just left the one night screening of PJ20, a lovely rockumentary celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Pearl Jam's seminal album - Ten.
I would just like to take a moment, while it's still fresh in my mind, to reflect on exactly what Pearl Jam has meant to me for the past decade of my life.
My father and I had a difficult relationship at times. After the age of 7, I only really saw him every other weekend. But somehow, miraculously (no really, it's a fucking miracle) we connected when we shared music. He lived almost two hours away from me, so when we'd commute back and forth we would turn it up to 11 in his way overpriced (but epic) Alpine stereo. Mostly the classic rock station, which seemed oddly repetitive and I just kind of tuned the majority of it out. In the early 2000's, Dad started picking up more contemporary stuff. I was about 16.
I should probably credit my step-mother for that. She loved the movie City of Angels, which lead to Iris, which lead to the Goo Goo Dolls. The first album that really got us going was Dizzy Up the Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls. That album started what would become an ongoing conversation between my dad and I. But Ten, that album, made us really connect. Experiencing Ten together germinated a kind of emotional intimacy that my dad and I never had before. Our favorite song off of Ten was Black.
I know that's EVERYONE'S favorite goddamn song, but it's not just Eddie Vedder ripping his dark emotions from his chest that makes Black my favorite. I have memories of my dad hand writing the lyrics out on a piece of paper and handing them to me. I can see his handwriting in my head still. And we talked about it- what the song meant.
Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything?
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed Everything...
I was so fortunate that Pearl Jam toured to my hometown in 2003. My dad, Matt, and I went and had a blast. They didn't play Black, but it was still more of a gift than I would realize. It would be the first and last time Matt would meet my father.
Pearl Jam's Five Horizons Tour Poster (2003)
My Dad passed away in 2004. I played Black at his funeral.
Pearl Jam's Ten, a decade after it's release, brought my dad and closer together. As close as we would ever be. Ten gave me the words to send my dad off. I couldn't listen to Ten for about a year, but now when I hear it... it's like Dad's sitting right next to me. Especially when I'm driving down the road, wailing like Vedder at Lollapalooza.
Thank you Pearl Jam, from a life-long Ten Clubber. Here's to twenty more years.