Certain Songs #1514: Pearl Jam – “MFC (Katowice 06-16-2000)”

Album: 6/16/00 – Katowice, Poland
Year: 2000

In the year 2000, Pearl Jam released Binaural, a record that I was never even remotely able to wrap my head around, and after quite a few spins, I gave up on. I’m sure some of you think it’s some kind of lost masterpiece, but to me, the best thing about Binaural was the cover.

Oh, that and the fact that they made the decision to release bootlegs from every single show they played on the tour. This was the beginning of the Pearl Jam Official Bootleg Series, making them only the second band to understand that artificial scarcity — especially of live shows — was kinda bullshit. And while there have been exceptions, nearly every single show that Pearl Jam has played this century has been available.

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Certain Songs #1513: Pearl Jam – “Wishlist”

Album: Yield
Year: 1998

One of the most straightforward songs in Pearl Jam’s catalog, I think that the analogy for “Wishlist” is “Every Breath You Take,” which shares the same kind of musical simplicity and lyrical repetition, with the major musical difference being that Sting actually bothered to write a chorus.

The major lyrical difference, of course, was that Sting was singing a song of suspicion and paranoia that has always felt kinda stalkery, and Eddie Vedder is singing a list of, well, wishes.

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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.

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Certain Songs #1511: Pearl Jam – “Off He Goes”

Album: No Code
Year: 1996

The result of particularly turbulent time in Pearl Jam’s career, and the first album with former Red Hot Chili Pepper (and guy who got their demo tape to Eddie Vedder) Jack Irons, No Code was the first Pearl Jam album I actively disliked.

In theory, it was fine to continue with the experimentation that had thrown all off of the good songs on Vitalogy into sharp relief, but the problem with No Code was that, for the most part, there weren’t any good songs: the rockers were tuneless, the ballads were focusless and the experiments were pointless.

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Certain Songs #1510: Pearl Jam – “I Got Id”

Album: Merkin Ball EP
Year: 1995

There literally isn’t anything about “I Got Id” that isn’t kind of weird. So let’s start with the weirdest part first: “I Got Id,” which I’m guessing that pretty much only hardcore Pearl Jam fans remember at this point, was their first bona fide top ten hit single.

Sure, they’d been alt-rock and mainstream rock radio chart toppers from the very start, but not so much with the pop charts: “Jeremy” only made it #79, “Daughter” to #97, and of course neither “Corduroy” or “Better Man” were even released as singles. That said, “Spin The Black Circle” did make it to #18, but I suspect that part of that was the novelty of the song being released as an actual 45 RPM single.

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