[An innocuous comment at my Super Bowl party spawned a trip down memory lane. Through a series of posts I'll tell the story of seeing Pearl Jam live in 1995 at Soldier Field, Chicago.]
The Return of Good Music
I was in high school when Pearl Jam released their first album, Ten. I remember seeing them perform Alive, from the album, on Saturday Night Live. I was blown away by the energy and the attitude- and most importantly, the music. It was so much better than what was on the radio at the time.
It was 1992 and I thought to myself, "Good music has returned." I'd developed some sense of music history over the last few years. I had become a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I was into the Stones. I liked the boogie blues albums ZZ Top did in the Seventies. I loved the Sixties music of my parents' generation. I could not find much to like in the Eighties.
I was beginning to delve into the music of Metallica- all of it from the Eighties. Among pop groups, I think INXS managed to make some good music. Beyond that? ... a real void. I felt that musicians in the Eighties had become mesmerized by new computer technology and fell victim to the "just because you can doesn't mean you should" vice of too much overdubbing, synthesizer keyboards, and electronic drumbeats.
Then Pearl Jam came along with their long hair, grunge clothes, "pissed at the world" teenage rage, layered and loud guitars, and supurb front-man Eddie Vedder, who wrote intelligent lyrics and could actually sing them. The whole band had a presence about them that made you stop what you were doing and listen or watch.
The radio stations insisted on calling their music "Alternative" - an alternative, I suppose, to the candy pop and androgynous disco music of the Eighties. But really, it was just fucking good rock 'n roll!