Review #160: Ten, Pearl Jam

Karla Clifton
3 min readAug 22, 2021

#160: Ten, Pearl Jam

Here are the first five bands I ever loved, in this order: the Indigo Girls, Green Day, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, and then Pearl Jam. (Technically the first one is really Smash Mouth, but they don’t count.)

I took to Pearl Jam so much because they married the angry grunge attitude of Nirvana and Rage with the delicate sensitivity of the Indigo Girls. PJ is an empathetic band. So many of their songs are just about people in sad circumstances who are trying to change their luck. See: “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” and “Daughter.”

Pearl Jam is also having a moment right now because of a video game called The Last of Us Part II. One of the songs that a major character repeatedly plays is “Future Days.”

I’m not a big video game person but I did play through TLOUII and was delighted that I did. A female protagonist who loves Pearl Jam and spends much of their adventure doodling in their diary? Hell yes. The rest of the music in it is great, too — she also plays a really beautiful version of “Take On Me” by a-Ha.

Ack, I’m off-track again. I’m just so excited Pearl Jam is on the list!


“Once” — The RS blurb offered a surprising amount of insight about the lyrics to these songs. Probably because Eddie Vedder has a flavor of peanut butter mouth that only comes with grunge music. Apparently this song is about murder?

“Even Flow”He can’t help when he’s happy he looks insane. I miss guitar solos that sound evil.

“Alive” — WOW. Apparently this is a song about incest?! In fact, it’s one-third of a mini-opera Eddie Vedder wrote that was partially — PARTIALLY — based on his own life. Eddie Vedder had to set the record straight and say that his mom never abused him.

“Why Go” — And this song is about a psych hospital. Go figure.

“Black” — I used to think that when he sang “Tattooed everything,” it meant that his girlfriend went out and got tattooed head to toe after she broke up with him.

“Jeremy” — This music video is so upsetting, and was mildly controversial. Jeremy spoke in class today.

“Master/Slave” — YES, a hidden track! Remember hidden tracks? For those who don’t, they were when the last song on an album had about a minute of dead air time and then launched into a different song, which often had a much different vibe than the rest of the album. It’s supposed to be a trick — if you’re playing it on a CD or vinyl record, you might turn it off before the hidden track starts. Noel Gallagher was right, the Nineties WERE the last great era of music. (Kidding.)


“Ocean” — Ethereal and pretty but also boring.

“Release” — Grunge never really did ballads well.


I’m sad this is the only PJ album on the list — I think Vitalogy, which has “Nothingman,” “Spin The Black Circle,” and the sublime “Better Man” on it belongs here.

Review #159: Synchronicity, The Police

Review #161: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash