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Pearl Jam Twenty – What it Means to Me
November 4, 2011, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Things I Love | Tags:

PJ20 - Pearl Jam Twenty

Words and Music –

What Pearl  Jam Means to Me

As pretty much anyone who knows me is aware, I have been a Pearl Jam fan for more than half my life. Eighteen years, to be exact.  I remember the first time I listened to Ten, with my cousin Carey. We sat in her basement and replayed it, probably 15 times. I knew every song by the end of that night.

I remember my excitement upon receiving the post card inviting me to join the Ten Club. That thrill was nothing compared to the feeling of, a few years later, receiving my first  Ten Club offer for fan club tickets.I wrote so excitedly on the order form in my haste to place the order, that they came in the name of Condare, rather than Candace.  When it came time for those shows at Red Rocks, I got in line at 7am, guaranteeing front row seats.  To preserve the memory, I smuggled in a tape recorder.

Later, they enacted the seniority-ticketing system. Carey and I went from the torture of not knowing where our seats were, to the pure bliss of being told: “that means front row,” in an instant. That night was the 10th anniversary of their first performance; the night they played Crown of Thorns for the first time. It’s my voice cheering at 0:10, 4:07, and 6:30 of the video below.

Over a decade later, I took my baby sister to see them for the first time. I wanted so badly for her to fall in love with them the way I had. Although she didn’t understand my no drinking policy before the show, she assured me afterward that it made sense. To remember the show properly, a sober mind is required.

And of course, there was my first show: the Paramount theater in Denver, on March 6th, 1994.  My voice was horse for days afterward, and I was introduced to what I now know as post-PJ-concert depression. I swear, every time I see them, I miss them painfully as soon as they leave the stage.

I remember the Atlanta radio broadcast, and hearing Betterman for the first time. I bawled my eyes, sitting in my bedroom with my radio in my arms.

I have every TV appearance/performance, video, MTV news update, and Supreme Court appearance stored away on VHS. I still have audio tape and VHS bootlegs as well as rare vinyl, which I ordered from Prodigy forums. I have that Time magazine, saved along with every Rolling Stone, Spin, Circus, etc. magazine in which Pearl Jam were ever mentioned. I even have my tapes of the  Monkeywrench broadcast and Rockline appearances.

Pearl Jam Twenty / PJ20

I could continue describing my memories and souvenirs for days. The point is, this band and their history are a part of me.  There are days when their music is the only thing that makes me feel good.  Seeing them live, to this day, is the BEST thing I can possibly imagine.  There are no words for the bliss I feel when I close my eyes, raise my arms, and sing along with my fellow fans.  As for Alpine Valley, Labor Day 2011: I won’t even attempt to describe what those shows meant to me. Those of you who were there: you know.   For those of you who weren’t:  I am so sorry.

The film Pearl Jam Twenty is much more than a documentary about a band, for me.  Upon watching it for the first time, my own memories, pieces of my own life, appeared on the screen.  As if that wasn’t enough of a gift, the members of Pearl Jam, being people who have long protected their privacy, opened up in such I way that I could never have imagined.  I so badly want to personally thank them for that; as a die-hard fan, it means so much.  More than that, I wish I could tell them what their music means to me.

I find myself desperately searching for the words to make it possible, for people who aren’t fans, to understand why I am so devoted.  I want them to feel it too, because to me, it’s the best feeling in the world.  If only everyone had something they love as much as I love Pearl Jam; this world would be a much happier place.


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Comment by Chris Phillips

I fell for them like that. To be honest, I’ve only been a PJ fan for about a year, I got Ten, Versus, Backspacer and PJ20 for my birthday a little while ago and it’s literally ALL I DO and I’m so glad that there are people out there who feel the same as me and I’m SO JEALOUS OF YOU because if there’s one thing i could do before I died it would be to see them perform.

Comment by myfingerssmelllikemaplesyrup

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