Sometimes music just owns a piece of you. We all have albums or songs we identify with in some unique fashion that correlates to the overall scope of life. Maybe it’s a recent divorcee connecting with “Blood on the Tracks” to get them through the unmitigated sh*tstorm. Maybe it’s a kid hearing that first note off an accessible metal album and becoming a riff junkie for life. Maybe it’s the sensitive beta type who opts for “For Emma, Forever Ago” to transition through a devastating relationship rather than inhaling a bottle of pills. Or maybe it’s the faux alpha that turns to “Vulgar Display of Power” and alcohol fueled rage rather than facing the actual issue of burden. Any serious fan of music has a handful of records that either define them as a person, or encompassed an era in their life that manifests itself throughout the course of that life. “Ten” is one of those for me.
I have purchased “Ten” 3 different times due to loss or theft. It’s a record I simply HAVE to own in a physical manner, and it’s not even an option, because there are several facets about it that define characteristics of my life. “Release” will be played at my funeral. It’s one of the most gorgeous, powerful songs ever constructed, and seeing it live would be a cathartic, out of body experience. The essence of this song and its climbing, atmospheric might connects with me so intensely that it's imprint is how I want people to remember me when I’m gone. In a grand sense of horrific irony, I knew a person growing up who loved “Jeremy” and tragically mimicked the ominous song’s final result (except for doing it in a classroom). I know at least 3 people who think “Black” and its devastating yet gorgeous atmosphere is the greatest song ever written. The enthralling catchiness of “Alive” and “Even Flow” unequivocally overpowered my 12 year old brain, instilling the now laughable desire to buy 3 Pearl Jam shirts, at least 5 flannel shirts, and pushing my mom to take a vacation in Seattle just so I could walk around with them and hopefully run into Eddie Vedder. Don’t judge me.
If we eliminate purely personal connections, “Ten” effortlessly stands on its own merits as one of the greatest rock albums ever made. Every track (aside from “Deep”) is powerful in its own way, whether manifested in a titanic riff (“Alive”), a vexing chorus (almost all of them), a ferocious anthem (“Porch”), a foreboding tale (“Jeremy,” “ Why Go,” “ Once”) or a transcendent atmosphere (“Release," “Garden,” “Black”). Pearl Jam would eventually cave under an onslaught of pretention, Vedder would relinquish a large part of his vocal prowess almost immediately after this came out, and overall the band just forgot how to write great songs, at least for a period of time. Despite that, it’s difficult to find an album that was more right place, right time than “Ten.” It was perfectly executed arena rock for a new era, and was the ideal replacement for the dwindling landscape of what hard rock was facing at the time. Without “Ten,” we wouldn’t have endured Scott Stapp failing at the worst vocal rip-off in the history of culture and the radio rock/post grunge movement would have had to find a different muse, but we would be left without a watershed album.
Yeah we sounded like the same kid growing up. What are you @ 30ish? Anyways great album, and a nice short review to go with it. This is one album where you don't really need to get into the specifics of the music or lyrics because it has been around for 20 years and has sold like a billion copies. But still probably my all time #1. Also, I think "Deep" is absolutely a powerful song though it took me years and years as an adolescence to fully appreciate it compared to the more listener-friendly stuff on here.
I actually did go to Seattle in 92, have family out there. I thought I was so badass with my Pearl Jam shirts. I thought everyone would think I was the coolest fucking guy on the planet. Sadly, my ego wasnt fed.