- signature live
- about us
- soul coughing
- star anna
- glen hansard
In just under a month Ed Vedder’s heretofor specter of a Ukulele album will be released. The eponymously titled “Ukulele Songs” consists of sixteen tracks: some we know, others we don’t. But just what are these songs about? gremmie.net has the scoop. Hit the jump for Part II of the track-by-track background “Ukuelele Songs”.
9. Hey Fahkah
Track nine is an ode to Theo Epstein. Since the early 2000’s Ed and Theo have fostered a chummy friendship. Whether Theo is racking up fines for attending Pearl Jam concerts during baseball season or Ed is jamming at local Boston-area bars with Theo, it’s clear they’re quite fond of one another. The pair met in 2000 and ironically were introduced by – then Yankee and former Red Sock – Roger Clemens at an Everquest convention in Boston, Massachusetts (see “You’re True” for more detail). Since Theo’s favorite song, “Save You“, begins with lyric, “I’m gonna save you fucker…”, he addressed Ed by saying “Hey Fucker.” But because of his Boston accent, sounded like “Hey Fahkah.” Ed chortled at the sound of this. “Hey Fahkah” has since become a term of endearment and one of their inside jokes.
10. You’re True
This is the same up-tempo song Ed has sparsely performed since mid 2005. But, what most Pearl Jam fans don’t know about it is that it’s a love song dedicated to a video game character. More specifically, Ed’s inaugural character from the MMORPG World of Warcraft.
Introduced to the massively popular online game by X frontman John Doe, Ed began life in Azeroth as a Gnome Mage he named, “Eddie Vedder”. To his surprise, the name hadn’t been taken yet. Now it may seem strange that Ed named his character after himself, but when you know the backstory its a little easier to sympathize.
After Riot Act was released in 2002, Ed fell into a mild depression. Unhappy with the album, and coming to terms with Pearl Jam’s growing irrelevance, Ed needed a pick-me-up. At first he experimented with Techno and House music while taking Extasy pills. And as he put it in a Rolling Stone interview in 2006, “The music was shit, but I loved the E.” Next he took up Bikram Yoga, but that didn’t work either. Ed grew increasingly frustrated not being able to overcome his backslide. It was weeks later when John Doe called Ed hollering about joining his guild. Ed, not really a video game guy, was hesitant at first, but soon relented after he realized he didn’t have anything else going on.
Ed created the Gnome Mage using his own name because he thought other players would see it and compliment him on his music. Just the sort of thing he needed to pluck him out of the doldrums. What he didn’t realize is that WoW players predominantly listen to two kinds of music: Death Metal and Jazz. Moreover, they explicitly dislike Pearl Jam. Why? Because of an internet meme that circulated a few years ago that poked fun at WoW players using an image of “Jeremy” with the text”WoW: drawing pictures of retards since 2001″.
11. Light Today
Prequel to Light Years and Backspacer b-side. Song credits from the liner notes read: “Mad Hatter, Alice”. Those within Pearl Jam’s trust circle know that the “Mad Hatter” is Jeff and “Alice” is Stone (see “Once in Awhile” above for why). Along with 8 other songs, “Light Today” didn’t make the cut for inclusion on Pearl Jam’s 9th album.
12. Sleepless Nights (featuring Glen Hansard)
Ed went through a gay phase, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The tracklist for “Ukulele Songs” reads, “Sleepless Nights (featuring Glen Hansard)”, which is correct, but the subtext is that “featuring” really means that Glen Hansard is the muse for the song. The “Sleepless Nights” he refers to are those without Hansard next to him.
Upon seeing the film “Once“, Ed began to admire Hansard (who didn’t? that movie is amazing!). With repeated viewings however, that admiration slowly turned into infatuation. It wasn’t long before Ed began exercising his connections in an effort to meet the Irish folksinger. But it never happened. At a show in Cork, Ireland in 2008 Hansard caught wind of Ed’s amorous affectations and refused to meet with Pearl Jam’s lead singer saying, “I like you. But I don’t LIKE like you.” Adding, “I prefer lassies to lads.”
13. Once in Awhile
Amongst Pearl Jam’s 4 core members, Stone Gossard is liked the least. He is relegated by the others to the worst tasks. This includes making coffee runs half-way across town, sweeping up after band practice, and even firing members of the band Ed dislikes. But as any good master knows, every now and again you need to throw the slaves a scrap to keep them from revolting. So once in a while they let Stone vote in band meetings.
The song is structured as three versus with no choruses. In each verse Ed hums a laundry list of items the band has voted on in the past 20 years; interesting things like ‘What do we call the 5th album’ (Yield), ‘ and ‘Should we open the B-Sides vault for fans’ (No). The final line of each verse details an issue on which they let Stone vote. It’s pretty fucked up; especially the third verse. To their credit, Jeff, Ed, and Mike allowed Stone to vote on issues that directly impacted him. It’s worth noting though that in 20 years, Stone has only been allowed to vote four times.
The verses end with these three lines respectively:
- “Should we shave Stone’s head?”
- “Should we let Stone vote less?”
- “Should we fire Stone?”
14. Waving Palms
15. Tonight You Belong to Me (featuring Cat Power & Steve Martin)
Tonight You Belong to Me is a popular American song, written in 1926 by lyricist Billy Rose and composer Lee David. It was made famous as a duet in the 1979 film, The Jerk, starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. On “Ukulele Songs” Ed sings with former collaborator Cat Power. The song also features Steve Martin on the banjo, whose notes are interspersed with Ed’s staccato ukulele.
16. Dream a Little Dream (featuring Brian Benben and Wendie Malick)
A cover of the theme song from HBO’s Dream On which ran between 1990 and 1996. The song features the show’s two leads, Brian Benben (who didn’t do much after the show was cancelled) and Wendie Malick (who you might remember as the physical therapist from Seinfeld).
Click here to read Part I of gremmie.net’s breakdown of “Ukulele Songs”.