My Favorite Pearl Jam Songs

This past Friday night Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Look, I don’t know what that really means. Every year bands and artists are inducted and I have that moment where I go:

“Wait a second… aren’t they already in there?”

Coming up with various 80’s and 90’s rock bands, I have my own biases about who should be in the Hall (how is Slayer not in the Hall? Or Iron Maiden? Or Alice in Chains?)

Anyway, I’ve certainly written about my Love Affair with Pearl Jam before wherein I talk about how my obsession began with them. I’ve written about some of the Lost Gems with those songs people would like/love, but who appear a little deeper on the album. And how one of their shows still holds a place in my Concert Top 5.

But these are the songs that make the difference for me in loving vs. liking them. These are the songs I could listen to over and over again.

Black (Ten 1991)

Might as well start with the biggie. I’m a sucker for sing-a-longs at concerts. It feels like in that moment the distance between us and the band has been reduced to nothingness. That with the lyrics being sung back to the band we are somehow a part of the band. We are the chorus.

We are the song.

Black is an easy song to love. The song that Eddie Vedder didn’t want to make a video of. It almost defies being anything more than just another track on the Ten album. How dare you want to exploit this personal song?

But that’s not how music works. That’s not how art works. We put these things into the world and then expect that those things are still ours… and sometimes they are for a time. But there is always a point where you can no longer claim your art and you must allow it to live in someone else.

And so when we sing along in concert to the lyrics. When we scream at the top of our lungs “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky.” When we cry out with every bit of anguish we’ve ever felt “But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine!”- that’s when we claim the song as our own and no one’s else.

Come Back (Pearl Jam)

The spiritual successor for their breakout cover of Last Kiss. This slow melodic tune feels like one that could have been played at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, evoking more feelings of that time.

Anyone who’s ever experienced the loss of a loved one can attest, their ghost remains with you. Room to room, objects, smells, sounds… everything and anything will conjure up memories.

Another song about loss, but also about hope. Hopefulness that even though the loved one is gone, they aren’t quite so far away. That the veil between worlds can be pierced.

“The real possibility I may meet you in my dream… I go to sleep.”

The worry that the song of their life might evaporate with time. These memories we take for granted, slipping away.

“If I don’t fall apart… will the memories stay clear?”

The two songs probably aren’t related, but for me it continues that story. And while the one may have halted… it is not over by any means.


Corduroy (Vitalogy)

I’m a lyric guy first… most of the time. But it is in the beginning of this song, that slow build up from utter silence, the drums kicking in, and then Eddie’s voice cuts in:

“The waiting drove me mad”

I’ve read about what the song is about. That by this point in their career their image had been appropriated by the masses. This was the time where you could buy the same clothes they wore, for only a mark-up of hundreds on top. Their images were used at times without their permission.

Things had begun to spiral out of their control.

“Everything has chains… absolutely nothing’s changed.”

I hear this line and I actually hear “Everything has changed… absolutely nothing’s changed.”

This album came out during my first quarter of college and if ever a line summed up my own feelings, it was that one. You are suddenly away from home, somewhat on your own. You are supposed to know exactly what you want out of your future. What do you want to be when you grow up is no long only a question… it is what you are in the process of becoming.

And yet… am I that different from who I was only a few months before? When I was still in high school and preparing to graduate? Am I equipped to make these decisions?

State of Love and Trust (Singles Soundtrack)

Back when you weren’t sure what might be coming from a band you listened to, every new soundtrack was scanned to make sure you hadn’t missed something. Singles was one of those movies that I liked when I saw it – though, I’m not entirely sure I understood everything they were trying to convey. But the soundtrack, that was something entirely different. And had it been a cassette and not a cd, I might have worn it out.

That Breath and State of Love and Trust were on the album was the icing. And while we were still in the “Ten” era, State didn’t feel like “Ten” to me. It was a fast, in your face attack.

“And I listen for the voice inside my head

Nothin’, I’ll do this one myself”

Did I learn something from this? Was I using it to channel some kind of teenage rage?

Maybe? Ah, probably not.

“Oh, help me, help me from myself.”

I just think I liked the beat.


Rearviewmirror (Vs.)

I would say this is one of their “driving songs”. There may not be one on every album, but there are a handful where you can just put them on and not think about anything other than the stretch of road in front of you.

I would say this is one of their “driving songs”, but it isn’t.


“Time to emancipate”

When you are a teen and get your license, then you are free. It doesn’t matter if you need to go around the corner, or you are searching out some place far from home. You get in the car and go. You can forget about life for a little while. Forget about whatever problems are currently on your plate.

And sometimes, just sometimes, you can drive as far as possible in hopes of seeing if there is an end in sight out there.

“Saw things clearer… once you… were in my… Rearview Mirror!”


John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at

The best things about autumn


The way the trees looks like this. Fiery leaves scattered across every surface imaginable.


The long days and nights of nothing but rain. Cold, cold rain. No other rhythm like it in the world.


The way burning leaves smell. Huge piles of ’em. All the smoking, grey clouds they emit. The way you can smell it from miles away.



Twilights like this. The barren branches sleeping beneath the burning skies. The last birds escaping.



Pumpkins still glowing long after the night has settled. Nothing eerier yet strangely as comforting than a craggy-toothed punkin’ smiling as you enjoy an evening walk.


The way the insects sound. It’s different than in spring (fresh and waking) or in summer (cicadas always whirring). In autumn, crickets own the night.


The wind blowing through the dry, dead grass. In some places, it’s ceaseless. In others, meandering.


The way the sky looks like this most of the time. Leastways where I come from…


Listening to music like this. Especially at night. Bonus points if you can name this particular album.



Watching movies like this. Curled up on the couch alone or with a friend. There’s no better season for horror than autumn.

Creepy Costumes

Dreaming of being the most terrifying kid in the neighborhood on All Hallows. And maybe just pulling it off. We’ve got nothing on the way our great grandfathers used to do it.

Nothing beats autumn. It’s the best season for writing, the best season for existing. Summer is great for sports, spring for de-hibernating, and winter for all things indoors, but autumn……sips of Scotch on the back patio, bbq’s, meaningful football, All Hallows, walking in the drizzle, sleeping with your windows open, listening to the wind, black cats, fallow fields, cawing crows, spooky twilights, grey dawns, crimson leaves, crackling fireplaces, roasted marshmallows, camping, creeping, raking, burning, and watching the world get ready to sleep.

I’m glad you’re here, autumn. Let’s do this.

J Edward Neill



Under the Covers

It’s a cold, blustery day in North Georgia, but I’m fine with it. I’ve got something to be excited about.



 Yep. For the holidays, I commissioned an alternate cover for Down the Dark Path. Our own Amanda Makepeace painted it. I feel it’s a sharp piece, perhaps grimmer than the previous cover, but closer to my own heart. The image is of the Soul Orb, the world-killing artifact appearing in the second half of the novel. This new version of the book is available for Kindles here:  DownTheDarkPath   The alternate-art softcover version will be available by Dec 22nd. Please check it out, read it, enjoy it, and review it. You’d be my hero.

Ok, so we’re done with that little sales pitch. Let’s move on. Reloading with the new art gives me a chance to talk about the book, and how I came to write it.

It all began during a bitterly cold winter night more than a decade ago. I’d long had the tale of Down the Dark Path locked away in the corner of my mind. Back then I called it Tyrants of the Dead, the title which would eventually become the name of the entire trilogy. That night, alone in my office, I sat down at my keyboard and wrote the prologue. I initially wrote it in first-person perspective, a comfortable mode for me, but ultimately I changed it to common third-person prose. This is gonna be a long, long book, I knew even then. First-person won’t quite cut it, imagery-wise.

And so, for the next six years, I hammered away. I knew where the story was going all along, but I’d yet to flesh out the dialogue, the side characters, the small settings, city names, and all the little intricacies that make a book a place you’d like to call home rather than just a pile of words. Six years. Yes, seriously. I wrote at night, during lunch at work, in the mornings before I went to work, and half of every weekend (whenever I wasn’t playing football, watching movies, or reading.) I was obsessed. I’m pretty sure I wrecked a few friendships and dug a shallow grave for my marriage along the way, but hey, I was writing, and that’s what made (makes) me happy.

And then, when I was finished, I rewrote it. The entire thing. I took 400,000 words and pared them down to 280,000. I killed off characters who previously survived, burned villages that’d somehow gone untouched, and turned what had once been a reasonably sunny fantasy novel into a work of fiction rife with shadows. This agonizing (but rewarding) process consumed another two years. I say consumed in a very literal fashion. The book ate up my life, chewed it up, and made entire swaths of time go away.

When I was done, I wrote two more books: Dark Moon Daughter and Nether Kingdom. I should’ve been searching for a publisher, an agent, or at least a print-on-demand service, but I preferred to write, write, and write. I turned the small stories locked away in my mind into a million-word trilogy, and later chopped it down to about 700,000 words. Dark Moon Daughter suffered a half-dozen title changes, but Nether Kingdom was always Nether Kingdom, by far the grimmest thing I’ve ever put to paper. The longer I wrote, the darker the subject matter turned. I touched on murder, betrayal, war, shattered hearts, suffering, and sacrifice. I went through all the emotions my characters did. I sketched out their clothes, their weapons, and I drew scores of maps detailing their travails. Told you I was obsessed.

Since the whole thing began, I’ve been asked a thousand times, “So what’s the trilogy all about?”


Down the Dark Path is the story of a world-consuming medieval-era war told from the perspective of six different people. It’s non-high fantasy, meaning no elves, no dwarves, no dragons, through I do sprinkle in quite a bit of black magic. I stray from politics, and focus largely on actions and emotions. Some of the characters, particularly two of the protagonists and one of the villains, consume the lion’s share of the action, but the other three get plenty of screen time. One of the characters, the young woman Andelusia, ended up being my favorite. (Who knew I liked writing women so much? Not I.) In Dark Moon Daughter, I cut the main character roster down to four (actually more like 3.5.) One of their stories I tell exclusively via first-person journal entries, so the character is heard from but rarely seen. I thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace, and continued the journal tactic well into Nether Kingdom, the darkest entry in the series and by far my favorite.

Combined, these three titles have consumed nearly twelve years and countless nights in my man-cave. It’s been one hell of a ride, and now that I’ve committed to a prequel, it seems the end isn’t quite at hand. I’m currently in the final stages of publishing the second two books, and I’m thrilled. Commercial success isn’t really the aim. It’s a labor of love. To all writers everywhere, I suggest a similar outlook. Love the words first. Let all other considerations be secondary. I’m convinced finishing a book or sometimes even a chapter is like an orgasm, except it lasts longer and there’s less cleanup (sometimes.)

And finally, throughout the years I’ve posted tons of images online for the series. Here are my favorites:

Dead trees (2)

A pencil sketch I did a while back. It’s supposed to be the dread fortress Malog as viewed from a distance. Thank goodness I hired professionals to clean up my mess.

Very Dark Buildings

The dark city of Illyoc, hub of Furyon commerce. It’s here our heroes must venture to reach Malog. Art by Eileen Herron.

Furyon Orig

Eileen Herron’s first image of a Furyon knight standing beneath the Emperor’s storm. His armor is Dageni steel, and is nigh indestructible.

Soul Orb Small Image

Amanda Makepeace’s first imagining of the Soul Orb. Notice the subtle runes on the Orb. The language of the Ur becomes a focus of the second two novels in the series.

Ande Best Cover 600x800 for Kindle

Eileen Herron’s original cover. I have the painting in my man-cave. That’s Garrett Croft riding with the blue-flamed sword. The Soul Orb looks angrier here, its thorns reaching to claim Andelusia.

Dark Moon Daughter – Due out early 2014

Nether Kingdom – Due out late 2014

Until next time…

J Edward Neill