Song of the Day #817: ‘Black’ – Pearl Jam

Top Ten Male Vocalists – #6 – Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder is the one artist on this list whose music I don’t own or listen to, which I suppose makes his appearance here all the more impressive. If I was actually a fan, he’d no doubt crack the top five.

Let me rephrase. It’s not that I’m not a fan of Vedder, or Pearl Jam, but that they just aren’t really on my radar at all. They were, once upon a time, but they’ve since fallen off and I haven’t given them much thought since. But that doesn’t keep me from really loving Eddie Vedder’s voice.

I’ve featured Vedder twice before on the blog. Once was for his stirring rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War‘ during a tribute concert. The clip was removed in the great YouTube Dylan Purge of ’10 but trust me, it’s a thing of beauty. The other was the Pearl Jam tune ‘Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,’ one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs.

Pearl Jam is a band that I should rediscover through iTunes, because my experience with them is that I love 3-4 songs on each of their albums but find the rest overbearing. Being an album guy, I don’t reach for albums with a 40% success rate, so I wound up selling them back. But if I were to compile all of their best songs into one 15-20 song playlist, that would be a killer mix.

I love Vedder’s voice because of the off-kilter, creaky-crazy sound of it, but I’m more drawn to him as a vocalist because of the passion he pours into every phrase. This guy isn’t just singing his songs, he’s living them.

Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did
All five horizons revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn

Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…

I take a walk outside
I’m surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I’m spinning, oh, I’m spinning
How quick the sun can, drop away
And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…

All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I’ll be…yeah…
Uh huh…uh huh…ooh…

I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a star
In somebody else’s sky, but why, why, why
Can’t it be, can’t it be mine

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #817: ‘Black’ – Pearl Jam

  1. Amy says:

    I find it fascinating that you would include a singer on this list who does not appear in your collection, but I agree, listening to today’s song, that Vedder’s voice makes quite an impact. I know next to nothing about Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder, other than the fact that Sean Penn asked him to do the music for Into the Wild. Since I’ve yet to see that film, I don’t even have an opinion on how effectively he did that, though I know he received all sorts of accolades.

    I’m intrigued. If I were to include voices on my list of artists I don’t even listen to… sheesh, how would I ever come up with a final 10? I’m curious to see which 5 will top your list, though I suppose I’ll have to suffer through two more days of an artist I imagine won’t make your list, as you couldn’t possibly add ANOTHER day of Dylan to this blog 😉

  2. Dana says:

    Interesting pick, I too do not own Pearl Jam or listen to them. Just not much into the grunge sound I guess. Still, his voice captures that sound, but infuses it with a grounded humanity. In some ways, I think his vocals add to his music much like Stipe’s vocals add to R.E.M.’s music. (Have I just hinted at one of your top 5’vers?:))

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