3hree Things: On Pearl Jam Twenty

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, in which Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

Pearl Jam were one of a tiny handful of bands that made me want to start playing in a rock band. I used to try to play along to Ten, Vs. and Vitalogy when I first started playing the drums. My first band tried (and failed) to cover "State of Love & Trust." I've been onboard the fanwagon (if such a thing exists) for 19 of their 20 years as a band, through the peak of their popularity in the mid-'90s and the middling output of most of the '00s (save: Backspacer). The band has always held a special place in my heart and has provided a soundtrack to some of the highest and lowest points of my life. Life doesn't afford you too many bands like that.

I realize they're a pretty polarizing band. It seems like people either love Pearl Jam or think they're awful. I can recall having a fairly heated argument during dinner with an Island Records exec who insisted they were the latter (mostly because he saw Eddie Vedder as an insufferable egomaniac). He was seemed intent on convincing me that my fandom was nonsensical and in poor taste, while I argued that musical taste is subjective and nothing he could say could possibly take away the impact their music had made on my life. Neither of us acquiesced, and we agreed to disagree. If you're in his camp, I'd suggest you skip this week's 3hree Things.

Last week, I finally got around to watching Pearl Jam Twenty, Cameron Crowe's documentary on the band's career, and I found myself incredibly moved and inspired (especially while grinding out the latter third of a six-week U.S. tour). There were three moments in particular that stood out, ones that not only reminded me how important and influential Pearl Jam were during my formative years as a musician, but how much their experiences and philosophies as a band can continue to inspire me going forward. 

Rather than writing about the pratfalls of backstage toiletry or writing the thousandth blog post on Halloween costumes you've read over the past month, I figured I'd keep it positive, keep it music-related (this is a music blog after all) and share those three moments with you guys. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the video for two of the moments/songs, so the audio will have to suffice. I highly recommend you download the HD version of Pearl Jam Twenty. It's must-watch material for Pearl Jam fans, and I think it's such a well-executed documentary that it'll make interesting viewing for fans of rock music in general (even if you're not a Pearl Jam fan).

"Release" (Audio Only) 

 After losing my father in January of this year, this song hit me harder than it ever had.


Hearing the genesis of this song and knowing how magical songwriting experiences like this can be, this clip (as short as it is) sent chills down my spine.

"Better Man" (Audio Only) 

If hearing that many voices sing along to a song that passionately doesn't move you at all, you might want to check your pulse. 

Download Pearl Jam Twenty here.

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Caroline Moore
Caroline Moore

Man... I felt the same way listening to that version of Better Man just now as I did hearing the crowd sing along to The Earth Will Shake when you guys played in Pittsburgh. (Also on that list, Green Day's Are We The Waiting at Mellon, and Blind Guardian's Bard Song in NYC).

Joe Blow
Joe Blow

I saw the screening at the Long Beach Art Theatre awhile back. Great documentary. Not only on Pearl Jam, but a history of all the NW bands at the time. Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, etc. They were all interconnected. Amazing how Pearl Jam recorded some of their biggest songs within days of meeting Eddie. Pearl Jam. Cameron Crowe. You can't go wrong.

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