“Hear my name, take a good look
this could be the day; hold my hand; lie beside me
I just need to say
I could not take a-just one day
I know when I would not ever touch you, hold you, feel you, ever hold in my arms
Porch – Pearl Jam
As the outdoor crowd applauded the screen while Pearl Jam exited the stage after completing a montage of Alive over the course of 20 years, it was apparent that we hadn’t witnessed a biography but an awakening. Cameron Crowe reminded us of the power and influence of music and how it is such a force in how we determine the course of our own lives.
In a way, this is a spiritual film about a group of journeyman with a mission to awaken the senses of the masses. Their true passion was the music and their muse, the fans. Each and every night an inner beast was released and they were possessed by the spirits that fueled their talent. Formed out of the untimely death of the Andy Wood, front man of Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam became the voice of a new generation of music inspired by the diversity of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Grunge was not a musical movement but a compassionate cry for unity.
Led by the voices of Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, Seattle was the Oz to this movement creating a focal point to a sound that would change music forever as we entered into a new decade. Whether you call it Grunge, Alternative or Rock, one thing is clear, the sounds were drenched in meaning, passion and absorbed all the inner angst and spit it right out.
Draped in flannel and powered by a voice recognizable around the world, Pearl Jam began to document a path to greatness. Eddie Vedder was a quiet and shy presence off the stage, but as the lights shined and the crowds screamed, he harnessed that energy to give an inspiring performance every evening. He even indicated on some nights he would stay up all night on a pure adrenaline rush.
Through the years, many obstacles would create stumbling blocks including fame, MTV, tragedy, feuds with Ticketmaster, a shift in musical connections and the evolution of the sound. As time passed, each member of the band began to evolve and dissect their place in the history of this band. Now that twenty years have passed and Pearl Jam remains, they each have taken a personal step in their own maturity but remain hidden away as a group of misfits who has one single love, music.
This movie is as much about Pearl Jam as it is you and me. There are those few rare times in our lives when a song, a movie, a moment changes us. It turns our world around and forces us to re-evaluate everything in our lives up until that moment. This film is a personal opus for Cameron Crowe as he uses his love of music, personal friendships and deep understanding of lyrical prose to create a masterpiece with a poetic flow and a justified look at the birth and maturity of a rock legend. Whether you are a passive fan or had a ritualistic experience with Pearl Jam, this film will move you and linger on long after you leave the theater.
Having begun my rise to adolescence almost parallel to the rise of this movement in Seattle, I witnessed my life on that screen and each passing interview and concert footage was another step in my life path.
Several elements of the film resonated with me. The Seattle sound was built out of community and not competition. The media image of Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam aside, the artists were friends, collaborators and critics. They shared their talents and helped create a moment that was unlike any of the other metro giants at the time. The collaboration between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam with Temple of the Dog is a key example of how two great entities can become one.
A leader with strong moral convictions and the ability to inspire can take on so many images. During a key scene midway through the film, a message was shared in the words of Eddie Vedder and Bob Dylan about Time Magazine. Two men, two generations, two sounds but both poets who allowed their fans to see and feel their emotions.
Time doesn’t change us. The music may change, our value system, our priorities but not who we are. Pearl Jam has and always will stay true to their name. They may be a little older and a little more grey, but their mission to bring music and art to the fans still remains their number one priority.
For that, we thank Pearl Jam and Cameron Crowe for reminding us of the importance of music.
“Yes, I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they’ve got none
Stay with me…
Let’s just breathe…
Practiced all my sins, never gonna let me win, uh-huh
Under everything, just another human being, uh-huh
I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world to make me bleed
Stay with me
You’re all I see…”
– Just Breathe, Pearl Jam