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.

It is THE DRIVING SONG.

“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 www.johnrmcguire.com.

Pearl Jam’s Hidden Gems

A few weeks ago I wrote about my love of Pearl Jam (OK, obsession maybe). But it occurs to me that while people are probably familiar with their various hits, those only scratch the surface of why they are my favorite band. So I present a few of the deeper cuts.

PearlJam-Binaural

Sleight of Hand – Binaural

“He found himself staring down at his own hands, not remembering the changes, not recalling the plan… was his.”

That’s how we go into the first chorus for this song. A man who finds himself at the crossroads of life. I’ve written about this idea before – that an 18 year old has picked out your life for you. Determined your path.

“Lost on a road he knew by heart.”

And here we have a man who has finally reached the point where he has to make a change – to something different. Hoping that it’s not too late to change.

“He waves goodbye to himself.”

It doesn’t take much, just a desire to make the change… and a willingness to do it.

A little push.

“Another man… moved by Slight of Hand.”

PearlJam-PearlJam2

Unemployable – Pearl Jam

“Thinking if he can’t sleep, how will he ever dream again.”

More than anything, it’s this one lyric that does it for me. Something so simple about stress, about not knowing how we’re supposed to get through the next day. How do we know we’ve done the right thing by our family? All of these things which keep us up at night – leads us to the real point:

When all we’re doing is just getting by – “How will he ever dream again.”

We all have dreams or at least had them at one point and put them aside for various reasons life throws at us. But they aren’t gone, just buried deep… waiting for us to dream them again.

Gone – Pearl Jam

I’m a sucker for Pearl Jam’s “Driving” songs. They started back on Vs. with Rearviewmirror – Eddie’s howl “Things were clearer… when you were in my Rearviewmirror.”

Yield brought MFC (Many Fast Cars) which I love for its tempo right out of the gate. We’re already on the road, going as fast as we can.

Gone, though, is different. It starts slow, deliberate… another person who is dissatisfied with their life. We see a mix of their regular self. Almost like a list of things someone wouldn’t care to miss. And then the decision is made.

“I will be what I could be once I get out of this town.”

But it’s a game… when will they end up with the choice? When will they make it.

“Long gone, I haven’t gone at all…

This time I’m gone.”

Is it a dare? And if so, for who? Us? Them?

PearlJam-Lostdogscover

4/20/02 – Lost Dogs (Disc 2 – Hidden Track)

“So sing just like him…”

“Because he’s dead.”

Pearl Jam’s tribute to Layne Stanley isn’t lauded or celebrated, but is buried as an unlisted track on their 2nd Lost Dogs Disc. And that’s fine. It doesn’t need to be anything more than it is. All too often we look at musicians who cannot escape their personal demons and succumb – and then we’re all left to wonder (and lament) about the music they didn’t get to create. That the world is denied their gift.

And then we get to Pearl Jam. Somehow, someway they’ve made it through when their popularity could crush them. Past individual member’s struggles with drugs. Past the tragedy at Rosklide…

“No blame, no blame… it could be you.”

“Use it.”

That refrain we all make when faced with the loss of someone we cared about, admired, or loved. We have to carry on. We have to “use” the pain and push through the sludge.

Otherwise we might succumb too.

PearlJam-NoCode

Off He Goes – No Code

We actually included this song on the cds we burned for our wedding keepsakes. I knew a couple of things about that project (which Courtney put me in charge of) but the biggest was that it wasn’t just going to be a bunch of sappy love songs for the sake of having love songs. And that there needed to be 1 Pearl Jam song.

I thought about it for a good while. Trying to figure out if their was a song that just fit, and then I went back and listened to the lyrics for this song – a song about friends and how fleeting our time is with them as we grow older.

“We go way back.”

Those early days where all we had to focus on was school and maybe sports. Somewhere along the line life started to show up. And friends moved away or they got busy. And it can be sad…

“And now I rub my eyes, for he has returned.”

The moments that we now might get to spend with those old friends through phone calls or emails or even in person – we have to take a little time and really understand what we have with each other. Catch up with them, but more than anything take the time to be in that moment.

“And now he’s home and we’re laughing like we always did

My same old, same old friend…”

You won’t regret it.

***

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 www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

My Musical Love Affair: Pearl Jam

Prior to 1992, my musical tastes could have gone a few different ways. The small collection of cds that I happen to be cultivating was an eclectic mix of many different genres. Among the first 3 cds I ever had were Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation, Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison, and Wilson Phillips’ Wilson Phillips. Add to that the handful of tapes I’d bought (Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Def Leppard’s Hysteria, and a pair of “tape singles” featuring Poison’s “Unskinny Bop” and Faith No More’s “Epic”) and it didn’t necessarily tell a complete tale of “this guy is going to be into this type of music”.

cassette-950152_1280

Growing up, my sister and I were somehow convinced, even with MTV, that the radio only had one station. And it only played the Oldies.

Seriously. If every time you got into the car with your parents the station NEVER CHANGED, you might think there was nothing else.

It got so bad that during the summer the Beach Boys put out “Kokomo”, my sister would call the station to try and get them to put on Madonna and when that failed, she’d opt for “Kokomo” (which they would play because it was the Beach Boys).

Fall of 1992 that changed. Chad Shonk for some reason or another brought over a cd to play while we got ready for another night of D&D. And from what little I heard, I didn’t think much of whatever it was. The next morning (or more like around Noon), when everyone staggered out to their cars in order to go home, Chad forgot to grab the cd.

It sat in my player for about a week, never spinning… until Chad requested his property back. So I thought, “I should probably listen to this band for free since he seems to like them.” So I sat on the edge of my bed, powered up my stereo, and clicked play…

I don’t want to do the cliche’ thing of saying that listen changed my life. It’s not like I suddenly went out and bought a guitar and started a band and made it big because of that night. That said, it might be the first album I’d ever heard that I immediately liked on the first listen.

That weekend I returned it to Chad and promptly bought myself a copy of Pearl Jam’s Ten.

pearl jam

In that following year it was a mad scramble to find whatever we could that Pearl Jam had done. Back in the days prior to the internet telling us the complete discography of every band, we had to go to the “cool” record shops and dig through the bootlegs they might have. I paid $20 for a taped concert just to get 1 song I’d never heard before (turns out it was a Who song). But every couple of weekends the search would begin anew.

A year later, I purchased Vs. on the day it came out (the first time I’d ever done that). I did it again with Vitalogy. I went to the midnight release of No Code and Yield. Each time I have a slight fear before I press play on the new album. I worry that this will be the point they lose me. I worry that they will become another band that I “liked”. I worry I’ll become one of those fans who, disappointed with the “new stuff” goes on and on about how they used to be good… or whatever happened to those guys or even worse “I wish they’d stopped X albums ago”.

Yet, it hasn’t happened yet. Sure I like some songs more than others, but overall they have yet to disappoint.

In those early days, if I had to chose my side in the Pearl Jam vs. Nirvana grunge war, there was no question where my allegiance was going. I bought Rolling Stones with them on the cover, scanned MTV for any word or bit of news about the band. When Cobain committed suicide my first thought was whether Eddie Vedder would be next (and selfishly thinking about all the songs I would never get to hear if that happened).

While in college I discovered that I could download some of their concerts… so I did. So many concerts (dozens)

I’ve written about my first real concert with them (at the Fox Theater in Atlanta) here. Not only is it my favorite concert of all time, it still is the concert I judge all others by.

I’m lucky too that my wife loves them too. That she’s seen them with me every time I’ve seen them. When they were boycotting Ticketmaster, Courtney and I drove up to Charlotte, NC to see them and then drove home after the concert. 10 years later we did something similar in Columbia, SC, with me somehow finding my way home through blurry eyes. She was the one who scolded me when my Fan Club membership accidentally lapsed and we had to get tickets for the 2000 show like “normal” people.

Look, I make no claim to be Pearl Jam’s biggest fan or anything like that. From reading blogs breaking down every song in their catalog, to reading about the concert exchanges online from various traders… I haven’t reached that level of obsession. I’ve never followed them around on tour (nor have I ever seen more than 1 show on any of their tours).

I do have a spreadsheet showing every concert I’ve been to and the set lists laid out so that I know which songs I have heard in concert and which songs I still need to hear (“Oceans” and “Breath” are two I have never seen from the Ten era that I’d love to be played). Also on this spreadsheet is every song they’ve ever put out in an effort to make sure I have all their songs.

I take offense when I read on a forum about how the show I happened to go to wasn’t as good as the one in X place. That the set list wasn’t as “cool”, or that it was too “paint by numbers”, or even that the crowd “wasn’t as into it”.

So there is a bit of an obsession.

And I believe in fandom. Heck, I read comic books and watch TV shows and go to conventions that are only based on fandom. I believe that while we can LIKE a great many bands, we can only LOVE a select few. Pearl Jam is at the top of that mountain for me.

I love the fact that songs which meant one thing to me in my teens might mean something different to me now.

stewie - like that band too much

In a couple of days I will be seeing them again, for the 9th time (I can’t count Lollapalooza 1992, we only saw 2 songs and it was about a month before Chad brought Ten over), having again drive to Columbia, SC from the suburbs of Atlanta (I still don’t quite understand why Atlanta gets skipped on these southern tours every other time). I don’t have any expectations as this will be the first show I’ve seen not on the heels of an album release. In theory, that could allow them to play almost any song in their arsenal. You see, Pearl Jam is not a band with a locked in set list. It varies night to night, and while there are staples that will be played, it also means some of the more obscure stuff might sneak in there. Maybe a song you haven’t thought about in years. So, yeah, I’m excited. I want the crowd to be into it. I want the band to be into it.

I want the evening to last forever.

***

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 www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I passed by the magical/terrible 40 year mark this past weekend. The point in your life you are surely supposed to question all your decisions and really hold onto your regrets until they eat you up from the inside.

Right?

Oh, and buy a sports car, and go nuts in about 1 million other cliché ways.

Sadly, that sounds like a lot of work, and I don’t want to do all of that.

Instead I thought I’d provide some nuggets of information (whether you wanted it or not). A peering into some of the events, 40 of them, that put me in front of this computer typing at this exact moment on this exact night.

birthday-cake-380178_1280

1 – From around the age 7 to the age of 11 I was sick every year on my birthday. For a while there I dreaded the day.

2 – At some point growing up my Mom baked me a strawberry birthday cake. 30 some years later and my wife still wonders if I might want to have a different cake this year (the answer is always NO).

3 – By the time I was in the 8th grade, I’d moved 6 times that I was old enough to really remember. I thought this was a ton of times… and it probably was, but when the teacher asked the class who had moved the most I raised my hand and said 6 thinking I’d “win”. Sadly, there was another person in the class who’d moved over 10 times (I’m guessing it was some sort of military family). That actually bummed me out (losing, not that they’d moved so much).

4 – One of my biggest What If moments will always be not making the 8th grade basketball team. At the time I didn’t understand it, and if I’m being really honest, I still don’t understand it. I still don’t know how it happened as I know I was one of the top 12 or so players in my class. There was some kind of weird point system the coach used over the course of the week tryouts and on Thursday morning I was in 1st place, and by Friday I wasn’t in the top 14. Thursday afternoon’s tryouts went poorly IF you were only looking at points scored. If you looked at blocks and rebounds (I played center), then even if I slipped in the standings a little, it shouldn’t have been by so much. Not making the team crushed me. And I think that not making the team put me at a disadvantage going into high school tryouts the next year (if only by having the extra practice time/game time).

5 – My parents had me when they were 19 years old. They had my brother 11 years after me. In between they divorced and then remarried about 10 years later. It is because of this that I believe Love never truly dies between people. It can be lost, but it is always there… waiting to be rediscovered.

6 – I started reading comics almost 30 years ago. I now own just under 10,000 comics. I don’t think I had any clue of what stories lay ahead of me when I walked into that convenience store and bought those first copies.

supermarket-949913_1280

7 – The only reason I ever worked at Kroger was to get my parents off my back about getting an after-school job. It was literally the first and only place I went to. I had the interview that day and started the following week.

8 – Once I became a cashier at Kroger, I was often stuck on the Express Lane. And yes, I hated when people who had 50 items tried to check out through my lane (read the damn sign!).

9 – I met my wife while working at Kroger. Yes, we are high school sweethearts (awww).

10 – I was one of two baggers to win the bagging challenge at our Kroger and got paid to go participate in the district competition.

11 – I don’t drink alcohol (though I had a taste of some over the weekend… and by taste I literally mean 2 swallows). While some of my circle of friends did drink, my future wife couldn’t because of medicines she took, and other friends were effectively “Straight Edge” (and therefore didn’t do drugs or alcohol). So it really was a reverse sort of peer pressure that caused the decision.

12 – I had/have a Kermit the Frog hand puppet. Senior year of high school I brought it out in Computer Science class. The words “John, put the frog away.” might have been heard for the first time ever at Parkview High.

kermit

13 – In all of high school I only skipped class 1 time and only had detention 1 time. I was/am definitely a rule follower.

14 – I was a Jehovah’s Witness for much of my pre-college life. I have gone around at 9 in the morning on a Saturday and knocked on doors. I also didn’t want to be awake if that’s any consolation.

15 – When I started college I tried to keep my high school “after school job” at Kroger. However, they wouldn’t allow me to have 2 to 3 weeks off to get settled in. So I was “forced” to quit. Not really sure why I thought keeping that job was a good idea at the time since it would have required me driving back and forth from school.

16 – I was a DJ in college for my freshman year. But I don’t mean in the club. I worked a couple of shifts at the Ga Tech radio station where I learned that lots of the stuff we played was not very good. But the ones I liked, those got played every chance I could.

17 – I maintain I was screwed out of housing my senior year at Georgia Tech. When you co-op, you’re not taking classes and so are a little out of sorts with campus life. This is less noticeable during the winter months (I co-op’d Winter and Summer quarters), but during summer it truly hits home. In an attempt to be aware of the due dates for the various payments needed for classes and housing, I called at the beginning of summer to find out the due dates. Wrote them down in my planner. And when the time came, called up to pay for school… and was told I’d missed the deadline by a week or so. I wrote down what they’d told me. Tried to be responsible, and still got hosed.

18 – I have had the distinct pleasure of walking in on college roommates while they were… being intimate with their girlfriends… twice.

19 – My landlord (after the Georgia Tech housing SNAFU) actually became my boss about 1 1/2 years after I moved in. He was a civil engineer as well.

20 – I am not good with tools. And while I can follow instructions when putting things together, there was a long time that I didn’t know what a Phillips Head screwdriver was (why don’t they just call it “the not flat one”?).

21 – I know absolutely nothing about cars either. Another one of those “guy” things where I just have to smile and nod and hope no one sees through my half-hearted smile and asks me a question about it.

22 – However, I do love sports. I can bond with my fellow guys over football, baseball, or basketball. But never soccer.

23 – My one fear is probably heights. Luckily it is the one I don’t have to test all that often.

24 – I think I have a mild form of OCD. If I misplace something, I cannot focus on anything else until I find it. I can’t do anything else, and I certainly can’t go to sleep.

25 – The old saying that nothing good happens after midnight is wrong. I believe that nothing good happens before noon.

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26 – I saw Limp Bizkit open for Korn prior to their big breakthrough. I’m still unsure at what moment it became uncool to listen to them. It still feels like one week they were cool(ish) and the next everyone had sworn they’d never liked them in the first place.

27 – I like a myriad of different music. If you were to search my iPod you’d find Slayer, Bryan Adams, Pearl Jam, Boys II Men, and the Misfits among many others. Though if I had to pick the music I listen to the most would either be Grunge or Nu Metal.

28 – I love music for the lyrics more than the instruments. While everyone else is trying to figure out the beat or the chords or whatever, I’m trying to figure out what the meaning of the song is supposed to be conveying.

29 – I love stage magic. I love the idea that someone is trying to show you something which you know is not true and yet you want to be true. And I hate the fact that when you know how the trick is done, a piece of that hope is dashed.

30 – I’m not always the best friend I could be. I don’t always pick up the phone to call someone else, but instead wait for them to call me.

31 – However, I’d like to think that when the shit hits the fan, I’m the person you want beside you. At least, I hope that’s true.

32 – In the last year I have fallen back in love with watching wrestling. I blame my nephew.

33 – I started wearing glasses in the 3rd grade. However, in those first weeks I would forget them at home and my Step Father would have to bring them to me. After I finished writing “I will not forget my glasses at home any more.” about 500 times, I stopped leaving them behind.

34 – After my senior year of high school my parents moved to Richmond, Virginia. But since I was going to go to Georgia Tech and the house wasn’t sold, I effectively lived by myself for much of that summer.

35 – I am a Professional Engineer, which means that I have the ability to actually stamp plans saying they are good to be constructed. However, I have only stamped 1 set of plans so far (and I’ve had my stamp for about 10 years now).

36 – Before I started dating the girl who would eventually become my wife, I’d never been on a real date with a girl before.

37 – When I was in 4th and 5th grade I had a Rat Tail. I still maintain it made me cool.

38 – I am a sap. Give me a tear-jerker scene or anything with an animal dying and I will lose it (no, those aren’t tears, I just have dust in my eyes).

39 – I once saw The New Kids on the Block with a friend. No, we were not being ironic. He had an extra ticket, for some reason, and I said I’d go (must have hit my head). I remember the squealing of the teenage girls more than any of the music they played.

40 – My all-time favorite concert was Pearl Jam at the Fox Theater April 3, 1994 (the one they broadcast). Sadly, I didn’t get to see those whole show as we left when the house lights came on not realizing they were going to play one more song that way. Since then I stay a little longer than I probably should at shows to ensure such a thing never happens again.

41 – Turning 40 isn’t as scary as people make it out to be… so far.

 

***

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 www.johnrmcguire.com.

I like to swim… into the mosh…

Tonight I’ll be on my way to see Breaking Benjamin in concert for the second time ever… the first being about a decade ago when they randomly opened for Evanescence. In fact, had they not switched the order of who was coming on first (I believe 3 Days Grace was supposed to be the second band of the night, but had to go on first for some reason) I would have never even seen them.

I love concerts. I love going and watching people, and sometimes seeing old friends from concerts long passed. When I was younger I loved jumping in the midst of the craziness and feel the beat rip through us.

With this impending concert adventure, I’m reminded of a few of my favorite shows:

Korn-Korn

Korn with Helmet and Limp Bizkit – Athens, Georgia 1997

I think I saw Korn 6 times for their first album. I swear every 2 months they came through Atlanta… first playing a small club, then the next larger one, and then the next one, and so on. But this show was a chance to not only see them, but to see Helmet – who were one of my top 10 bands at that time. A band I’d managed to miss previously  because of misplaced tickets.

But the biggest reason I remember this show is for the opening band – Limp Bizkit. I couldn’t tell you much about their show. The songs didn’t wow, but I didn’t dislike them either.

And then they launched into Faith… and we laughed… and then they started screaming the lyrics and we stopped laughing.

After the show, Fred Durst (and probably others) were outside the venue handing out their sampler tapes to anyone who would take them. On my next trip to Richmond we wore that tape out (all 2 songs of it). By the time they put their cd out, we were ready.

The Misfits – Dragon Con, Atlanta, Georgia 2000

This one gets a mention only because it has two events that I’ve never seen before happen during a concert.

For those that don’t know, the Misfits are a punk band from the late 70s-early 80s (originally fronted by Glenn Danzig) which reformed in the late 90s. I’ve liked them since before I knew what punk music really meant (not that I’m 100% on that even today). So getting a chance to randomly see them at Dragon Con of all places was too good to pass up.

My roommate, Scott, accompanied me down to whatever room it was they were playing. And a decent crowd had formed. Now, this type of music is far from Scott’s scene (he likes the Lilith Fair types), but he settled in the back of the room, eager to rest his feet from the full day of walking one does at Dragon Con.

After a few songs, I take a glance back and see my good friend, head thrown back, mouth slightly open… asleep in the chair. While this angry, fast, loud music is pumping through the speakers… there he is sleeping.

Sadly, the other thing I remember about this concert is watching a girl crowd surf for a few minutes and then crash down to the floor more or less on her head. A few seconds later she’s twitching… having a seizure. Luckily most concert goers are good about not trampling someone on the ground and her friends managed to get her out of there.

Pantera – Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia 1994

We had row 9 or 13 for this show, no lawn tickets for us. And I know what you are thinking – a Pantera show that you have seats for, how on earth would that be any good. And if I hadn’t been there I would have agreed with you. I don’t know why it worked so well. I think Phil (the lead singer) was in a good mood as he talked to the audience after every other song… but not just the BS singer do, I felt like he was eager to share his stories.

And while we couldn’t get into the pit back on the lawn, that might have been for the best. I’ve been in a Slayer pit before and barely survived… I might not have made it out of a Pantera one.

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Pearl Jam – Fox Theater (2nd Night – The Radio Broadcast), Atlanta, Georgia 1994

Somehow we managed to get tickets to this concert. Impossible to believe nowadays, my friend Lee – who happened to work an intership or something which allowed him to leave school early – contacted me as soon as I got home. Told me that the tickets were on sale, and I needed to get my ass to Turtles to stand in line.

Somehow I made it to the line, and then magically it sold out… two people after me.

To see this show at the Fox, to be one of the lucky ones who got to see it unfold was a thing I’ll never forget. And even though people offered Courtney and I hundreds to buy our tickets – I never regret seeing them. And since the show was broadcast, it was the first concert I got to relive back at home keeping my memories much more vivid and crisp than they might be now.

Sadly, we did not see the entire concert. When Pearl Jam finished their last song, the house lights went up and slowly we all started to file out of the building. Courtney and I had ridden with Chad and Lee, so after about 10 minutes of waiting in the car, they finally showed up.

“Wow that last song was great. I can’t believe they played Indifference.”

“Uhm, they didn’t play Indifference.”

“Sure they did. With the house lights on. <sees the look on my face> “Did you leave before they played it?”

Sigh.

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Lollapalooza – Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia 1993

I consider this my first concert even if it isn’t. I’d attended a couple of “Oldies” concerts with the parents throughout the years, I’d managed to see Janet Jackson (I think it was the Rhythm Nation Tour), but this was my baptism by fire.

I didn’t know any of the bands. I didn’t even have a ticket prior to maybe 2 days before the event as one of my Kroger workmates had an extra ticket. I didn’t know any of the bands who were playing (I was only beginning to learn exactly what Grunge was). But it was a concert and I actually had the day off, so Rebecca and I climbed into my Sunbird and off we went into Atlanta.

Now in the days before GPS and phones that yell the directions at you, we were forced to use heresay and sonar or something to find these places. Somehow we missed the exit (it actually says Lakewood, so to this day I’m unsure how that happened). We drove for about 30 minutes, and were soon far south of Atlanta. It was at this point we decided we MIGHT have missed the turn, stopped and tried to get some directions, and finally made it to the show for the last 2-3 songs in Pearl Jam’s set. And while I wasn’t destined to really hear them for another couple of months when Chad left his cd at my house… I do wonder what might have happened if we’d got there earlier.

As the day progressed, we hung out on the lawn area, soaking up the sights and sounds of these bands I still didn’t know, but I didn’t care. The sun began to set, and darkness rolled in, and a band named Ministry took the stage.

Within seconds the entire lawn area began a mad scramble to their feet. Bodies pushed against each other. Men and women shoved each other. Still others were hoisted upward. The mosh pit breathed as a creature unlike any I’d ever seen before. And while Rebecca abandoned all “sense’ and dove right in, I took a few steps back trying to figure it out.

My first mosh pit was one I never actually got into… but there would be many, many more.

 

 

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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 FREE!

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

I’ll Ride the Wave Where It Takes Me

There are many things which make me feel like a man out of time. I joke about it. That I was born too late for having a job in this country (I’d much rather be at one place for decade after decade rather than jumping from one employer to another). I was born too early to see us out there in the stars (since the space program seems to be a little stalled on the man missions to other places right now).

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But one place I might have been in the sweet spot was with music. I was reaching my teen years with the onslaught of Grunge which wiped away the awfulness of Hair Metal (which even now their looks seek to both embarrass and confuse. Where up until that point I was bouncing from whatever might have been on the radio (though there were a couple of years there that both my sister and I thought there was only one radio station – Oldies  – because that is the only point on the dial the radio ever sat on). A strange thought since I change the station on every kind of whim if a certain song is no longer holding my interest.

More than that is with this discovery of something that could be mine, it has been with me every since. I typically cannot sit down and write without it. Most days I’m fortunate enough to have it on while I work the old day job, my headphones assisting me in blocking out the background noise.

Music has become this important piece of my life. Songs and albums act as markers in my past in a way that no singular action could otherwise. And the playing of that particular tune, sending me spiraling back into my own life, and forces me to relive moments both glorious and terrible. Certain songs that can no longer be listened to because of an event I must now associate with them.

Random songs that carry strange and fantastic memories for me –

Kokamo by The Beach Boys – Summer 1988 – Cocktail soundtrack carries a Beach Boy song of all things: Kokamo. Because of the singular radio station in the house, aside from songs on MTV, my sister was obsessed with anything and everything Madonna. Now what does this have to do with the Beach Boys? Well, when you only think there is one radio station in town and you ask them to play Madonna on a daily basis during the summer they are going to tell you NO (especially if they only play the oldies). However, when you are 7 years old, like my sister was, you really just want them to play a song for you. And so Kokamo became the go to song to ask them (after petitioning for Madonna first, of course).

 

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Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana – Winter 1992 – We’re six months after Smells Like Teen Spirit has reached the airwaves, but it has only really been in my head space for a couple of months. But more to the point, this is pre-internet days where BBS(s) ruled the world. Where some people would set up their computers so that we could remote log in to them, play games, download or upload files, and then move on to the next BBS. And my buddy Chad had the idea to set one up on his computer… which worked well enough. As one of his first guinea pigs, I logged on, tried it out. And since the connection was sometimes spotty the following exchange happened:

Hello?

Hello?

Until the other one responded. Chad tweaked this a little bit because of a certain song playing on the radio.

Hello?

Hello?

Hello?

How low?

No matter when I hear the song I get a picture of my old vga monitor (which was large enough to kill an ox) with those words drifting down the screen.

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Right Here, Right Now (Live) Both Discs by Van Halen – Every College Quarter Break between 1994 and 1999 – My parent moved to Richmond, VA right after I graduated high school in 1994, which mostly meant that when a quarter ended I had the unenviable task of driving 8 hours up I-85 by myself. In the days before iPods and satellite radio, I was not going to suffer at the hands of whatever radio station might be within range. And that meant a book of cds sitting in the passenger seat.

8 hours is a long time.

This is also the part where I confess that I am a Van Hagar fan more than a Van Halen fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like David Lee Roth, but I missed out on his antics with the band. By the time I cared about them, Sammy had been the singer for 3 albums. More than anything though, this thought was cemented by the double live cd I had. Every trip, without fail, I had to listen to the cd(s). It wouldn’t have been a proper trip without them. And, of course, they feature 95% of Van Hagar’s catalog.

Even now, when we make that drive, the desire to listen to those songs are powerful ones.

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Indifference by Pearl Jam – Spring 1994 – Those only familiar with the radio hits will likely not know this song, that’s fine. This serves as much as a lesson learned that I’ve since carried through every concert I’ve since attended. That Spring my future wife, Chad, myself, and our friend Lee had somehow managed to get tickets to their now legendary show at the Fox Theater. They were my favorite band at that point (and still are) so this was going to be amazing. We all ride down to downtown Atlanta together and go to our 2 pairs of seats (we were on level 1 and they were on level 2). The band played pretty much every song in their catalog and did a pair of encores. It still ranks as one of my top 5 all-time concerts I’ve ever been to.

But there is one song Courtney and I did not hear, and that was Indifference. Though, if you check the set-list for that night, listen to one of the copies of the concert that are out there, you might notice that it was, in fact, played as their final song.

See, the problem was that after their second encore they thanked us and the house lights came on. Now, I hadn’t been to very many shows at that point, but I understood that meant “Get the heck out of here.” So Court and I did. However, once at the car we began to wonder what was taking Chad and Lee so long. When they finally arrived we began our trek home and the following conversation took place:

Me – “That was amazing!”

Chad – “Yeah. I especially loved them playing Indifference. That blew my mind.”

John – “Uhm, they didn’t play Indifference.”

Lee – “Yeah, they did, it was the last song they played.”

Beat.

Chad & Lee – “John, did you leave when the lights came on?”

So now I don’t leave until the ushers and other concert staff start to poke me with sticks and the like. I don’t move until the band’s bus is on its way out of the parking lot.

Never again!

 

There are hundreds of others which move to a time and space trapped in my memories. And I am thankful to music for that. They serve as wondrous mile posts and exit signs in a way that I would have never expected.

What songs transport you?

 

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!