I’m not fond of bucket lists, but tonight I resolved to do one thing before I die: to watch Pearl Jam play live. Since there’s a remote chance of them ever playing in the Philippines, that means I’m willing to dish out money to fly to another country just to watch them.
This resolve was built after watching Cameron Crowe’s “Pearl Jam Twenty,” a beautifully-made documentary that chronicles historic moments in the band’s existence. Watching it reminded me of everything I loved, and still love, about Pearl Jam: Eddie Vedder’s powerful voice; their passion for playing; their courage to take a stand on issues that mean something to them, no matter how controversial.
In the two-hour film, Crowe traced the band’s beginnings in the 90s Seattle music scene. He went beyond interviewing the band members. Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, for one, had a lot to say about the relationship between the bands then, like how they supported and played with each other even though they were all trying to hit it big.
What I found especially interesting were the footage of the band members as young, aspiring rock stars. You see Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament fooling around backstage back when they were still with Mother Love Bone, their band before they formed Pearl Jam. You see a shy Eddie Vedder–imagine that, a shy Eddie–turn his back on the audience and cover his face with his hair during one of the band’s first performances.
They were so young then, and my, how they’ve grown. As I watched the now middle-aged band members talk about some of the most memorable incidents they had to deal with–such as the death of Mother Love Bone’s Andy Wood, their war with Ticketmaster, and the 2000 Roskilde Festival where nine fans died–I couldn’t help but marvel at how mature and solid and self-aware they are now. This is a band that knows itself inside and out. This is a band that has gone through hell and back. And the amazing thing is, they all survived.
All of the precious nuggets from Pearl Jam’s collective and individual history were told in a finely-woven storyline with some of the band’s best songs in between. That includes the wretchedly beautiful “Black,” which never fails to move me no matter how many times I’ve listened to it.
I gotta hand it to Crowe—-who, by the way, wrote and directed “Almost Famous” which is my favorite movie of all time—-because he certainly knows how to tell a good story. In every frame, in every song, in every word he used, you can see that this film was made with absolute passion by a genuine fan.
Now I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who understands just how much I love Pearl Jam. Look at what I got for Christmas: the movie’s accompanying book!
I’ve only gone through the first few pages because I’m taking my time with it. This just might be the most in-depth take on my favorite band that I’ll ever get to read, and I want to savor every bit of information and insight shared within.