Welcome to 15 Against 30, the Pearl Jam retrospective that pits the angsty, belligerent 15 year old version of me against the conservative, stick-in-the-mud, 30 year old version of me. In this second installment I am looking at Vs. This is the album that made me grow up and appreciate acoustic songs. Not everything had to be a pump up song (but they were definitely appreciated).

Go

15 – “oh my god, this takes forever to start. What is that? Chimes? Bah! And now a long drum intro. HIT ME!” and then it did. I think it took me a while to realize he was saying, “don’t go on me.” I always just heard it as an energetic romp that took too long to get going. When I listened to the lyrics, I remember thinking, “yes, all the betrayal of friends, girls who wouldn’t go out with you or were just a pain in your ass, this is for you.” Because it was so right. You didn’t want them to leave you, but they were your nemesis. How did Eddie go to my high school, have my problems, and end up so cool?

30 – So good at raging against the copier machines that don’t work like they are supposed to. Don’t go on me! I need 3 collated stapled copies of a 65 page document and I should have done this yesterday. Don’t jam. Don’t go on me. I actually dare you to read the lyrics of “Go” and tell me that doesn’t capture copier rage perfectly.

Animal

15 – again, pure pump up. Not to show my hand entirely, but I was not a sociable kid. Misunderstood and a bit of a smart ass, I’d befriend people and then somehow end up in stupid arguments about hurt feelings. Feelings I didn’t even know I hurt. I genuinely liked the people, but I ended up feeling like a monster. Hence this, “I’d rather be with an animal” really hit home

30 – I can’t get over the simplicity of the opening riff. An A power chord essentially with no complex finger movements. That’s it? How can that be a pump up song? They better not play this live because it counts in the number of songs played but it’s a quick 3 minutes with no deviations from any show.

Daughter

15 – The song that made me know that Pearl Jam was my favorite band. I just loved this song. I didn’t understand why a guy would ask for people to not call him daughter. I also didn’t care. Thank you local radio station that only played that song for the entire day of the album release.

30 – Tag. Its all about the tag. I loved this song 15 years ago, now I just want them to blast through it and give me a legendary tag. If they end up just playing it out quietly, this show will have lost all meaning. This has happened to me once, and I can tell you, I know nothing about that show.

Glorified G

15 – I love this band, but what the hell is this song.

30 – No, seriously, what the hell is this song?

Dissident

15 – Lame slow song that they are trying to get you into by making it electric. Wait a minute, that annoying intro is catchy. Wait a minute, did he just say, “escape is never the safest path?” I love this guy. I love this song. I’ve never liked a song that I didn’t like immediately. Am I growing up? Am I musically sophisticated now? I’m probably the end all be all on music now. Sit down, bitches

30 – Wait a minute, what is this song about? Meh!

WMA

15 – I was taking drum lessons at the time. It was so cool to me. The whole thing was awesome. As an Indian guy, I can tell you a number of uncles and aunties who say “umrican” for American. And there was Eddie, saying it the same way. Ok, uncle Raj, still lame. Eddie, still way cool.

30 – I was glad they brought it back in 2008. I wasn’t so excited by the wonderwall guitar intro, but it held it’s own.

Blood

15 – Between this and Animal, was there any better way to blow through a sugar high? Just failing around in your bedroom screaming along with the lyrics. Sure, Ed was talking about being famous and why fans like me were driving him nuts. I didn’t know that at the time.

30 – Still a hell of a pump up song. However, with its lack of live showings, its kind of dipped into no man’s land. Frankly, I kind of forgot all about this song until I wrote this.

Rearviewmirror

15 – “I can’t wait to drive because this song is the ultimate driving song. I know it. I’m sitting here in the passenger seat of my dad’s car. Why am I sitting here? Why don’t I have my license already?

30– Still the ultimate driving song.

Rats

15 – Sweet base line. Let’s see what this sounds like with the Bass on 10! Alright, the Rearview mirror shakes. Isn’t that the name of another song on this disc?

30– Meh! I root for this song to be played live solely to add to songs I’ve heard live. They played it once at a show I was at. Greatest moment to add to my songs heard live list. They played it a second time at a different show, I took a seat.

Elderly Woman…

15 – I have been tone deaf for quite a while now when it comes to singing yet I can sing this song perfectly. (Note to gremmie: No, I will not sing this in your presence to prove anything to you. Trust the written word, son.) Awesome! And look, it’s acoustic. I AM becoming a musical snob and I’m loving it.

30 – Wait for it…..wait for it. “I want to scream HELLO!” The second best part of being at a live show. “scream my lungs out til it fills this room” being best part of a live show.

Leash

15 – I’m 15 and hate poetry, yet he wants them to drop the leash. No, not a real leash, but a metaphorical one. Why is deciphering Eddie Vedder lyrics so much more fun than figuring out the meter of a poem for English class. I should probably ask if I can do my poetry paper on the lyrics of Leash instead of that Whitman crap.

30 – This is the Deep of VS. It’s the caricature of the pearl jam sound. It’s a throw away. It aged poorly. You like it simply because you are a pearl jam addict, but when your friends who play the “Pearl Jam sucks” card to simply get your goat, you have to agree when they say, “leash is a terrible song.” But since you know what your pals are trying to do, you defend it relentlessly dying a little like watching a moderate republican trying to defend Sarah Palin. “She isn’t THAT stupid.”

Indifference

15 – Actually, no jokes with this one. A friend in my class killed himself and this was the one song that helped make any sense of the whole thing. I remember sitting in my room the night after the funeral listening to this song.

30 – I rarely listen to this song because of the situation mentioned above, but when I hear it, I always think of my pal.

       

      7 Responses to 15 Against 30: Versus

      1. jim says:

        The “GO” review…..funny. Btw…met you in the line for the MSG II poster. I was the dude who was going on and on about the site. Congrats on the make over…looks great.

        • gremmie says:

          Jim, this is gremmie. Actually, the 15 versus 30 series is written by our staff guy, “buffalo kevin”, not me. I write the High Five series. But yes, I do remember you on line. That was the first time that’s ever happened. It was really cool! Thanks for the kudos on the makeover!

      2. joHn says:

        So glad I wasn’t the only one who thought 2008 WMA started out sounding like Wonderwall.

      3. David says:

        I quite liked the new WMA intro…..but maybe it’s just good to hear the song any-old-how.

        Being of a similar age I really enjoy these articles, not going to admit to how much of myself I see in them though.

      4. wolfamongwolves says:

        Leash is the Deep of vs. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I was gutted when they buckled under fan pressure & brought it out of retirement, because I’d been convinced for years that they felt the same way about it.

      5. Doc_Martin says:

        Great!

      6. Ariel says:

        Hey Buffalo Kevin,

        I totally understand your relationship with Indifference. My younger brother Gilad passed away from liver cancer this past August at 19, and his last show was 5/20/10 in Madison Square Garden. (Not sure if you listen to ATS, but Donny mentioned something about my brother during his cast about the MSG shows.)

        During the three years that he was sick, we relied on Pearl Jam to get us through the tough times, mainly focusing on It’s Ok and Indifference. “I will hold a candle till it burns up my arm.” That’s how he saw his chemo and radiation.

        That final show ended with Indifference; marking the first time he saw it in the six shows he was able to see, as well as the last Pearl Jam song he’d ever hear live.

        Thanks for reminding me of the power of that song, and letting me know that it’s helped other people get through tough times too.

        Best,
        Ariel

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *