Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: pearl jam

Don’t You Think You Want To Stop?

Drifting off and doing all those things…

Vote Early And Vote Awful

This is the shirt that Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam wore to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony the other night, and I think he should have chosen a larger font, as some of these bands strain the credulity of reality itself.

Voting time, Enthusiasts: who’s the most absurd? I go with Lenny Kravitz, who I simply cannot believe isn’t a judge on a reality show by now, or maybe Grand Funk.

WARNING: Anyone voting for Dio will be banned with extreme prejudice.

Thoughts On The Rock & Roll Hall Of Whatever

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tonight, and no matter what you’re doing, it’s better than having any part of that unctuous ego-orgy. Fuck off, R&RHoF, fuck off for forever and a day; take your precious Stratocasters in their security-glass sarcophagi with you; dump it all in Lake Erie and let it float away until someone needs to make another documentary.

No one loves you, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They just use you for the sales bump. Money’s on the dresser.

Anyway, they’ve run through all the deserving artists (not really) and now we’re left with an evening whose highlight may or may not be Steve Perry’s presence. Which–if you’re keeping score–does not count as a highlight in any reality except the one where you are wrongly accused of murdering a Girl Scout troop and Steve Perry is your alibi. In that reality, Steve Perry showing up is the biggest highlight of your life. In this one? Not impressive.

Here’s this year’s class; I will try my hardest not to do the “BUT THESE BANDS AREN’T IN” bullshit. None of this matters and it’s all offensive to anyone with an IQ high enough to spell “IQ.”

ELO ELO? Ugh. Meh. Nah. Psh. ELO was basically Beatles fan fiction with a disco beat. Jeff Lynne was also the weakest link in the Traveling Wilburys. One shining moment: soundtrack of Boogie Nights.

Joan Baez The first whispers of a Baez comeback/rethink are in the offing, and let me put a stop to it toot fucking sweet: Joan Baez sucks. Her voice is like a clumsy surgeon’s scalpel, and she appears humorless. (At least in her material. FoTotD David Browne recently interviewed her for Rolling Stone and she sounded tolerable, but it’s not the Sixties any more and I hate the fucking Sixties and the fucking Baby Boomers and they can all suck my balls and someone get a Time Sheath and send Joan Baez back to Woodstock so she can lecture people some more.)

Journey New rule: if you replace the lead singer with someone who used to cosplay as the lead singer, then you can’t be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sure, there’s been a 20-year-long chain of Fake Jerrys in the Dead, but…


Realize you had an indefensible point halfway through the sentence?

Little bit.



Wanna apologize to Journey?

No. Fuck Journey.

Acknowledge you were wrong, though.

No. Fuck you.

Oh, I’m looking forward to the light and life you’re going to share with the world this evening. What a fine mood you wear.

Bite me.

Pearl Jam Ten was good, Vs. was great, and Vitalogy, No Code, and Binaural had their moments, plus I really dug the album they made backing up Neil Young. Here, check this out:

(There’s an official video, but trust me: you don’t want to watch it.)

So, yeah, okay, fine, whatever. Good job, Pearl Jam.

Tupac Shakur Tupac was Trixie’s high school friend, so I am glad for him.

Yes Yes is the only band more ridiculous than the Dead, and the only one on this list other than Pearl Jam that TotD has seen live: holy shit, was it excruciating. It was the Union tour, and Yes fans will remember the Union tour as the tour when every human being who had ever been in Yes was onstage at the same time: 20 or 30 deeply unpleasant-looking pale men waiting for their turns to solo.

Why did they do this? Well, there were two Yeses at the time: the Chris Squire/Buggles/Trevor Rabin version (which owned the name), and the version with Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe (who performed under the imaginative name of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe). The two factions kept suing each other and cannibalizing each other’s ticket sales, so the record company mushed them together and threw them out on the road.

Did you miss the part about the Buggles? The guys who did Video Killed the Radio Star? Yeah, the Buggles were in Yes for a while. Swear to God. The only backstory with comparable complexity belongs to Cable from the X-Men, and that involves both time travel and alternate dimensions.

Fun fact: Rick Wakeman has joined and quit Yes five times, and he bought himself a new cape to mark each occasion.

Nile Rodgers Go look at this motherfucker’s credits. I dare you. Plus, he produced this:

So, there ya go.

Jam Band; Jam, Band

jm eddie vedder bonnaroo

“So, Eddie: I was thinking–”

“You can’t join Pearl Jam.”

“–what if I…okay.”

“Sorry, man.”

“Just throwing it out there.”

“If you don’t ask, you don’t know.”


“And, um–this is a bit awkward–Jeff Ament wants his hat back.”

“This is my hat, Eddie.”

“Please don’t make this weird.”

“I bought this at the Macy’s in Geneva. It cost 12 grand.”

“No, no. Jeff bought it at a flea market in Madison, Wisconsin. I was with him. We ate deep-fried cotton candy.”

“You can deep-fry cotton candy?”

“You can deep-fry anything if you’re American enough.”

“It’s my hat, Eddie.”

“C’mon, man. Gimme the–”

“Don’t you–”

“Just gimme Jeff’s–

“Get your hands off–”



“C’mon in. Hey, Oteil. What’s up?”

“Nothing much, Bobby. Um…our guitarist and Eddie Vedder are punching each other next door.”

“No, no: I’m our guitarist.”

“Our other guitarist.”



“That’s what that noise is? I figured it was Billy.”

Five Against HB2


I lost interest in Pearl Jam after Vitalogy, though I bought No Code and Binaural, and never felt a need to revisit the Seattle band. They were always admirable in their political stances, and Eddie Vedder is probably the least embarrassing of all the Great White Frontmen, but everything after Vs. (which is an outstanding record and far better than Ten) sounded a little generic for me. Like their albums should be in no-frills packaging with “Rock Music” printed on it.

Perhaps it was the drummer thing. Spinal Tap–as always–got it right with the revolving-drummer bit: with very few exceptions, bands that stick around a while always have one position that they can’t keep filled. Dead couldn’t keep keyboardists alive, KISS has had 19 lead guitarists, Sabbath has at least a half-dozen vocalists that weren’t Ozzy or Dio, etc.

But Pearl Jam swapped out drummers, and a drummer is not a keyboardist: the drums matter. If the piano player doesn’t show up, then the show must go on; if the drummer flakes, then the crowd gets a refund. The backbone of TotD’s Theories of Rock (all Rock Nerds have Theories, and all of them capitalize the words just like I do; it’s just that they won’t admit it) is this: all Great Bands have great drummers.* If you’re going to have a sound that’s your own, then you need a great drummer.

And PJ might have had a great drummer, perhaps five or six, but they all got fired or quit or eaten by flannel shirts; it doesn’t seem to matter to their fans, and they are plentiful. Pearl Jam still sells the fuck out, and not the small rooms. People still pony up for a night with them, and–more importantly–they show up for their shows; they’re not a heritage act.

Pearl Jam will not, however, be showing up to their show in Raleigh, NC, on the 20th. Like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr, they have cancelled their North Carolina appearance in protest of HB2, which has been called the “bathroom bill.” In reality, the bill is about bathrooms in the same way that the Watergate scandal was about a hotel.

The band released a letter written in a lovely hand:


Needless to say, I applaud this decision; it is the morally correct one and I hope that other acts follow suit. Harrumph harrumph.

As always, I was unable to stop myself from watching the conservatives on Twitter tell the same joke over and over (“Pearl Jam’s still around?”) and make specious arguments, but there’s a new silly argument, and from the left this time.

This is from Pitchfork, and I shouldn’t be surprised at its vapidity considering the source, but just read this paragraph. I’ll set the scene: Duran Duran has chosen not to boycott, and Simon Le Bon has a prepared statement for the crowd:

[…] Le Bon was comfortable—riveting, even—in taking this stand. He went off script several times, riling the crowd into great paroxysms. “There it is again—just plain, old-fashioned prejudice, fear and oppression, the same old kind that’s blighted humanity in varying degrees for all of its history,” he said. “Duran Duran is opposed to bigotry and discrimination in all of its ugly forms.” He ushered a representative from the nonprofit Equality NC onstage, read and signed a petition directed to the North Carolina General Assembly, passed it around, and asked everyone who agreed to let their cell phones light up the night sky as the band played “Save a Prayer.” Turning my back to the stage and seeing that sky of beams on the amphitheater lawn, I felt reinvigorated by hope, by solidarity, by the strength of a collective statement.

Boycotting, as the author explains later in the article, is a “passive activism” that pales next to the real power that people have: raising awareness through the use of Rock Stars. We can defeat hatred by being charming at it. Marshall the armies of egotistical Brits in leather pants, and let us turn night to day with our iPhones. (I have developed a new app specifically for holding aloft while Rock Stars read political speeches; it is called Protestr. I am disrupting social justice.)

There was invigoration and solidarity; awareness was raised so high that it got scared, and started to cry; and then Duran Duran gave North Carolina–specifically the government that passed this law that so blights humanity–around $105,000. (PNC Center holds 15,500. Hundred bucks a person for tickets and merch sounds fair. Sales tax in NC is 6.75%)

This is the failure of awareness: it’s not worth as much as money. Money’s so valuable that many societies use it as currency. It can buy you love, or happiness, or immortality. Money is a balm, a lubricant; is it water in the desert, and it is also a fierce weapon, most lethally in its denial.

And this is how money should be used in this situation: turn off the taps, and tear the copper pipes out of the walls for crack money. Leave awareness to awarewolves. It’s money that matters.

*First person to bring up The Beatles gets banned.


Its been hours, already: the body’s cold.