National Album Day 2019: Ten by Pearl Jam

I was 12 and a half years old when Pearl Jam’s Ten album came out.
It had a huge effect on me and my life.
The thundering rawness of it.
It’s lyrics screamed right to me, pushing through into my young tormented world.
You might wonder why would a 12yr old need to hear a voice like that?

Eddie Vedder’s deep voice emulated the perfect amount of anger, frustration and desperation I was seeking. Paired with Stone Gossard and Mike McCready‘s beautifully heavy, melodic, sliding, wailing guitars, Jeff Ament‘s dynamic thundering bass and Dave Krusen‘s bashing drums, Pearl Jam’s debut LP Ten was the perfect soundtrack to the cells splitting within me. Puberty was smashing through my young body into my mind and it made me much more aware of the how messed up the adult world really was.

I still remember seeing the album cover for Ten and thinking, ‘Woahhh who are these long haired guys? Where are they with all their arms up reaching to a point in his red room of bricks?’ They looked so cool as if they were reaching upwards, banding together, trying to make something matter.

To me, the whole album sounded like it was made to release an ever building angst towards adults like our parents and even teachers (Baby Boomers) that left us to grow up in their wake of abuse, divorce, alcoholism and neglect.

The song Why Go, along with Alive and Jeremy are perfect examples of the angst that needed to burst out after the 80s glitz and pomp was over. Here is a sample of the blistering lyrics from Why Go about a daughter being locked up in  a psychiatric institution:

She scratches a letter
Into a wall, made of stone
Maybe someday

Another child
Won’t feel as alone as she does
It’s been two years
And counting
Since they put her in this place

She’s been diagnosed
By some stupid fuck
And mommy agrees

Why go home?

Teenagers of the 90s were not happy with the cards they’d been dealt and Pearl Jam came along at the right time to encapsulate that frustration with their brilliant music. Amazing lyrics matched with the heavy melodic rock rhythms made perfect anthems for crowds of thousands at their concerts. I believe Pearl Jam truly helped join millions of youth all around the world and let them share  in the commiserations at how shit things were, while at the same time allowing them to release that pain by having fun moshing and stage diving the madness out.

Ten by Pearl Jam, 1991, chosen by web designer, DJ and photographer Belle Piec

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