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

Atlanta will never be a baseball town

We are only a few weeks away from the worst time to be a sports fan. The Super Bowl will be over and with it another season of futility for my Miami Dolphins. We’ll have the better part of a month to wish it was March and therefore time to fill out our tournament brackets with any number of theories on why this team or that one will end up in the Final Four. You will try to convince yourself that just because you did not watch one minute of college basketball up to that point that your opinions should still be valid.

But really we’re all just biding time until Baseball and Opening Day.

I’ve spent most of my life in Georgia in one form or another (minus about a year or so in Florida when I was 4 and about 2 weeks in Virginia) so there is only one baseball team as far as I am concerned:

The Atlanta Braves.


Forgive the flash, though it landed right where the tomahawk hit…

This is my favorite picture hanging in my house. I’ve had it since 1991 when my mom got it framed for me. It’s gone with me through a handful of moves, but I always make sure to find a place for it.

While I know the exact point in time that I became a Miami Dolphins fan (January 23, 1983 The Miami Dolphins defeated the NY Jets in the AFC Championship game and that was all it took – I shudder to think what would have happened had the game gone the other way), I have no idea when I became a Braves fan. At some point it became a part of my conscious, surely helped by lots of readily available viewings on TBS.

But it was probably cemented by the trips to Atlanta I spent with my Dad. We would do a week there, and then a week in south Georgia with my relatives. During that Atlanta week we’d see the Braves at least twice (there might have been even one year where we saw them three times). Looking back I can’t say I remember any specific game that we went to, though I remember seeing them play the Padres at some point (possibly more than once). At one point I even knew their record in games I went to (for such a terrible team during most of the 80s, they tended to win more than they lost when I was there), though that knowledge is long since lost from the recesses of my mind.

I remember my Dad telling me stories about the Braves though. “Did you know that Dale Murphy used to play catcher?” “Did you know that Pascual Perez once got lost on I-285?” (It is the perimeter around the center and he never got off… just kept going in a circle).

And I knew I would get a chance to see Dale Murphy play. In person. Number 3. Your starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves (maybe he’ll hit a home run!).

In Waycross, Georgia (the largest city, in the largest county, in the largest state… east of the Mississippi – look it up) (where I lived) you better believe that Braves cards were gotten at a premium. But a Dale Murphy? That was the end game. You opened pack after pack in hopes of seeing #3.

Dale Murphy Baseball Card

I’m pretty sure I have this one… sadly it is not worth what it once was.

Mercifully much of the 80s Braves, for me, is tied less to their record and more to their baseball cards. And it really remained that way until 1991.

But in 1991 it all changed. I remember how that season made every single person a Braves fan. I went to our High School Homecoming football game and people were doing the tomahawk chop (by the way, yes we stole it from Florida State… who cares, most of those people were Braves fans anyway). People would honk their horns and stick their arms out the window. And every night as the season progressed I’d look in the paper to see if the Dodgers had won the night before.

And when they won the division? And then when they won the NL? It was ridiculous. There is no other words to describe it. And had Ron Gant not been pulled off the bag by Hrbek, well… (no, I’m not still bitter about it 22 plus years later).

Still, they were not the losers anymore.

For the next decade plus we got treated to seeing one of the greatest rotations of all time. I don’t know that I even realized it until it was close to over at the end of the 90s. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz under Bobby Cox’s managing brought wins to a town starved for them. It is a fine thing to accomplish winning, but when you win as much as they did and make it where people are slightly bored of the winning (not me, but some). That is a true accomplishment. They turned the Atlanta Braves into a model for how to win.

Last week two of those three were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And while I would join my voice in with the people who feel Maddux should have been a unanimous decision (if not for people gaming the system), I’m too excited about the prospect of this years ceremony being so Braves focused.  Though there is a bit of weird timing as this year will be the first without any true tie to those division winning teams (Brian McCann leaving to become a Yankee) is the same year where a huge reason for their being a streak will get their honor by all of the baseball world. I guess it really is the end of an era.

And yeah, maybe we only won the 1 World Series, but being it the thick of it every year, having a chance… I’ll take that all day long.

Braves Pitchers

Smoltz will be in there shortly with you guys.

So thanks Bobby, Greg, and Tom. Get the place ready because we’ve got two more of your teammates (John Smoltz and Chipper Jones) coming to really give the Hall a nice Braves feel



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