Certain Songs #1512: Pearl Jam – “Given to Fly”

Album: Yield
Year: 1998

Now this was more like it.

After the, I’ll say, inconsistent No Code, Pearl Jam regrouped and put out what I think remains the finest album of their career, Yield.

Nearly ditching the experimentation, and balancing the ferocious rockers with incredibly strong mid-tempo songs that were chock full of loud guitars and strong melodies, they delivered their most consistent-sounding album since Ten, absent the murky sound.

Yield turned out to be exactly what I wanted from Pearl Jam: a thoughtful, well-made hard rock album full of well-crafted, passionate songs, as exemplified by the lead single, “Given to Fly.” Starting off with a ringing, jangling liquid guitar that was enough of a cop of Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” that people noticed but not so much that people really cared, “Given To Fly” epitomized the quiet loud quiet, building from the valleys straight toward the peaks.

And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved
And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly

And with the who band crashing around him, Eddie Vedder’s screams of “hiiiiiiiiiggggh!” “flyiiiiiiiiing” always punctuated by a long heartfelt “ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” felt like an old friend had finally come home. And I clearly wasn’t the only one: “Given to Fly” performed better on the radio than any of the No Code songs, and even made it to #21 on the pop charts, and is pretty much a fan favorite, as well.

“Given to Fly”

“Given to Fly” live in Maryland, 2000

“Given to Fly” live at Reading, 2006

“Given to Fly” at Fenway Park, 2016

“Given to Fly” at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction, 2017

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