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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Pearl Jam

So, Eddie Vedder is 57 years old—58 in December. Wow. I fell in love with his beautiful deep baritone the minute I heard Alive on the radio. Also the big guitar sound, the mondo energy, the let-it-all-hang-out unashamed wildness of it all. Plus…the hair.

At the time, I felt as though my crush was a bit skeevy given that he was 27 and I was *gasp* an old hag of 33. Yes, yezzzzz, here at the fossilized age of 64, a six year age difference is laughable. As is the idea that I’d ever hook up with Mr. Vedder.

In any case, Pearl Jam inspired the shit outta me. The intensity of their music and lyrics just blew me clean out. I was going through an extremely difficult time at work when the album Ten came out. I was the production manager of a mid-sized, very busy offset pressroom at the time. My manager was a nice but wholly unsupportive, oblivious drunk; I’d yet to learn the difficult art of calm diplomacy while under big stress (understatement alert!); a district manager, who was sleeping his way through the company’s female staff, had a hard on to get me fired. (possibly because I thought he was a joke and, oopsie, didn’t hide my opinion well enough) Insanity was inevitable.

I couldn’t just quit the joint. I hadn’t any real savings, totally needed the health insurance (this was well before the Affordable Care Act) and I had a mortgage to pay. I felt I didn’t have any marketable skills (not true but it’s how I viewed my sitch) and couldn’t afford to go back to school OR get a career counselor.

Amazingly, to me, I managed to bull through this heinous time. It was a trial by/of fire, with infinitesimal help from my always inebriated manager BUT I learned a lot. I evolved, became kind and tactful and got a handle on how to effectively negotiate.

The thing that really pulled me through was this—I’d get off the subway a few stops shy of work, turn my walkman up to 12 and hike the last stretch blasting Alive, Jeremy, Even Flow, Once and the rest of that incredible album.
"Son," she said, "have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothing but a
While you were sitting home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dying
Sorry you didn't see him, but I'm glad we talked"

Oh, I, oh I'm still alive
Hey, I, oh I'm still alive
Hey, I, oh I'm still alive

Hey, oh
I’m only reading now that the lyrics to Alive are semi-autobiographical. No wonder he could bring such fire and passion.

The dynamic, blazing chorus—I’m still alive—certainly brought me through the shit storm I was trying to survive. In hearing it now on my internal turntable.

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