The Top 20 Pearl Jam Songs Because Ten Isn't Enough

Sep 15, 2004 (Updated Sep 25, 2004)

The Bottom Line the the 20 ultimate Pearl Jam songs in one really long list

Welcome back my friends, lets get started on this wonderfully long list, but first I am required to go over the history of this brilliant band that has lasted since 1991 and is still rocking.

Back in 1990 when I was less than a year old the lead singer of Mother Love Bone died and the members “Jeff Ament” and “Stone Gossard” went off to forge a new band, taking on a new lead guitarist known as “Mike McCready” and finding a new vocalist called “Eddie Vedder.” They then spent a little while looking for a drummer, in till they found “Dave Abbrusseze” and then recorded there debut album which along with Nirvana’s Nevermind would become an album that would change rock history. Ten driven by the anthems of Alive, Even Flow, and Jeremy became a huge success with its classic hard rocking tunes and complete anthemia.

It was then followed up with Vs which sold just as many copies as Ten and made the band even more popular because of its loose hard rocking feeling, but the success started to pull apart the band, “Dave Abbrusseze” was starting to p!ss off various members, so after the recording of their third album Vitalogy he got fired.
Mixing in punk influences and fuelled by the anger of being over exposed, Vedder wrote most of this himself and threw in quite a few experimental songs.

Jack Iron’s who was formerly of RHCP took over the drums and caused the band to branch out in to new territory, using rich and cultural sounds mixed with acoustic guitars No Code was a good album but turned many away from the band.
Because of Pearl Jam’s battle with those bloody bastards at ticket master who had raised the prices of tickets to their concerts with out their consent, the band couldn’t play at many venues which ticket master owned and it caused them to loose a lot of there fan base. But it left them with a fan base completely loyal to any changes or battles the band were going through saying a large number of fans had also abandoned the band after No Code because it wasn’t the grunge Pearl Jam they loved.

the 1998 follow up, Yield, returned to the heavier style of VS and Ten mixing it with some new guitar effects and better producing, it became many a fans favourite and during that time the band regained a lot of their fan base because after they lost their battle with ticket master, the band started doing full scale tours at ticket master venues once again, because Jack Irons had health problems he didn’t tour in 1998 and the band hired ex Soundagrden member Matt Cameron to be their touring drummer. Matt then ended up replacing Jack Irons completely and the band carried on rocking in till in 1999 they got lucky, the cover of Last Kiss which was only meant to be a Christmas single became the bands biggest hit ever (4 on the charts), many of the bands fans thought they had sold out completely while others loved the song to bits.
In 2000 Binaural came out and sold quite well due to the fan base of pop lovers they had picked up because of Last Kiss but many people disliked the atmospheric tones of the album because of its awful production. but the band also released nearly all of there shows in two disc sets, totalling over 150 (I think) and releasing one of the best selling live DVD’s ever, titled Touring Band 2000.
And the latest full length album Riot Act was recorded Pearl Jam were angry at all of the events of 911 and created an album that had quite few good messages but overall was an album that wouldn’t gain them any new fans while the old ones embraced it with love and were rewarded with Lost Dogs in 2003, a two disc collection of rarities and B-sides.

I have been listening to all of these albums so much lately that I have almost gotten tired of Pearl Jam, if that’s possible. I have listened to each of the albums at least 9 times each, some about 15, and my favourites (Vitalogy and Ten) about 20. so I think it is time to give these CD’s a rest in till I find the need to rewrite all of my Pearl Jam reviews. Not to mention I may update this list occasionally because my opinions on the tracks in the top 20 change every day.

Very Honourable Mentions
Dirty Frank
Why Go
Hail Hail
Spin The Black Circle
Not For You
No Way
Brain Of J
Low Light
and Nothingman

Here Goes

20. Love Boat Captain - Riot Act
in general I despise bands that had dark lyrics once upon a time and decide to write a love song, but with this I can appreciate the fact that Pearl Jam are going old and know there sh!t about life, this song being about love is done properly. I love* the solid intro of just organ, muted guitar and Eddie singing, I love it when the song gets slightly faster, and I love the chorus and think it is one of the best the band have made. You would think it would be a big cheese fest, but I actually like camembert so there you have it.

19. Last Exit - Vitalogy
I had a really hard time choosing if I would use this, I was going to give this spot to Riot Act opener, Can’t Keep but this track has been one of my favourites from Vitalogy for ages along with many others like Not For You which i almost gave this spot too but there is something truly special about this track. The intro made up of the band p!ssing around like monkeys on there instruments isn’t it, the main stomping drum beat which I end up drumming in class is cool but that’s not it, and the guitars are a solid piece of playing not to mention that they do there job perfectly (yet they’re not it). I think the thing about this song is that it sums up the feeling of Vitalogy perfectly though others would say Not For You is a better pick for that title.

18. Indifference - VS
you may as well screw all credit about Binaural being atmospheric, this is the original and it’s the best atmospheric song have ever made. no percussion other and the occasional bells, nothing but cow like bass, effective subtle lead guitar, and Vedder singing some of the best lyrics he has ever written, they’re dark, they’re spooky and this song acts as the most perfect closer the band have ever made.

17. Off He Goes - No Code
other than the fact that the first single from No Code was cr@p, I can’t see why people were turned away from the band. This is one of the most perfect acoustic songs the band have ever written (only Immortality stops it). The plucking riff is lovely, and the lead guitar is very effective at its job. The only thing now that this song needs is good vocals and good lyrics, which Vedder conjures up, the vocals are fine and the lyrics tell a very pleasing story about someone going away looking for more in life. so really, I think the band should have gained rather than lost, oh well.

16. Glorified G - VS
I just love to take the p!ss out of things, like singing Creed songs in a Jesus pose ETC. But this truly is one of the ultimate p!ss takes of our time, I don’t like guns because my parents are Quaker’s but this song show how low and stupid the NRA are. Its catchy and is almost like a fun song but don’t be fooled by the candy on the outside the inside is bitter and angry, the catchy guitar is brilliant built up of a double attack from Stone and Mike makes my head nod every time I hear this, and Vedder makes me sing along and then realise what I have sung and feel bad.

15. In My Tree - No Code
this song is probably the richest in cultural influence from the entire Pearl Jam bank of songs, the super fast drum rolls are a treat, the extra cow like bass is really cool, and the production used for Vedder’s vocals is sheer brilliance. There are parts in here were the vocal chanting sounds more like an entire stadium then a five piece band, and the lyrics are like a more positive alternative to the slightly suicidal feeling of Vitalogy. I would much rather climb a tree and live there to escape the media than shoot myself personally, and Vedder would rather do that too saying he wrote this song.

14. Save You - Riot Act
I was planning to place this within the top ten but realised that despite being a seriously hard rock song and my favourite from Riot Act, other songs are just better in a way. distortion and a wicked main riff makes this song so rocking along with the fact that Vedder despite being old acts like a real rock star with little screams, a solid vocal performance and some really cool lyrics, this probably has the most swearing by the band and believe me when I say that swearing is a brilliant tool.

13. Insignificance - Binaural
I had a hard to choosing a track to represent Binaural, originally it was Light Years all the way but this song grew on me so much that ended up creeping past a number of tracks which I thought would be in the top ten. The stop start trick that is used a huge amount of Binaural, is actually taken to gold instead of the wooden spoon which it usually deserves. Cymbal-les drums take up the verses which are actually not the greatest thing on the planet but when that pre choruses kicks into gear with its build up stop action I am completely addicted. Then when the brilliant chorus starts I am feeling what could only be true bliss, the backing vocals of Stone make it so magnificent and if that wasn’t enough, the bass shoves in some brilliant improvisations.

12. Do The Evolution - Yield
as if the catchy as sonic bliss riffs from the guitar couldn’t gain this a place in the top 20 but this song also features the most original, most difficult, and craziest vocal performance from Vedder who sounds like a crazy ape man on the loose. the main theme is based around a difficult topic, how selfish, stupid, egocentric, wasteful, deceiving, the human race are.
It may have been done by quite a few other bands like Incubus with Megalomaniac but this is by far the best one I have heard, and is probably the best use of modern technology the band have used in any of there songs not to mention the production is brilliant.

11. Alive - Ten
you know, when I think about it, there is no need to write anything because you have all heard this before, but im not a cheap bastard and hopefully I can get some of you people who have been neglecting Ten to go have another listen.
Beginning with the classic riff and cool harmonic acoustic work from Stone, you are brought into the verses which aren’t that loud but have everything you loved about 1991 P Jam in them, they’re not up lifting really, there kind of sad and they cover a story about how Vedder found out that his dad wasn’t really his dad (and don’t get any sick ideas), his real dad was somewhere else and his mother told him that he was in dieing. You get the picture, not uplifting but the best inspiration for lyrics are things that happen. Besides, I bet you can’t listen to this without falling in love with one of the most anthemic choruses of all time, and the guitar solo is the best of the nineties in my opinion, but i will probably change my mind in a few hours.

10. Red Mosquito - No Code
I just love seals, when they bark they make the most hilarious noise, and I also love guitar solos. Mix them together and what do you have….
A SEAL WITH A GUITAR, or all of the thrown in solos from this song that sound like a seal on one hand , and are incredibly bluesy on the other. But there is much more than that, the verses are an incredibly beautiful mixture of sharp acoustic guitar and odd lead guitar improvisations and solid vocal performance from Vedder who to tell the truth sings about some pretty weird stuff. Mix Satan with a red mosquito and some weird things like that, then you have an answer to the lyrics but the thing that really makes this song #10 and the best from No Code is the brilliant bridge, made up of layers of beautiful guitar sounds and one of the coolest electric guitar riffs ever put together.

9. Betterman - Vitalogy
complain all you like, im referring to those up tight bastards who only liked the songs from Ten and VS about little girls putting a knives in the toaster and dieing from electric shock.
this song is brilliant piece of work, slightly mainstream and the bands biggest hit apart from Last Kiss but that’s not a big con in my opinion. Vedder’s solo part at the start is brilliant, you would never guess that a simple plucking riff could be so effective, and the lyrics are some of the most memorable ever, you just listen to a live recording of this and hear the crowd chanting the first line “waiting, watching the clock, its four o’clock, its got to stop”.
But when the song actually gains all the other instruments I just sit there and grin with satisfaction, despite not having any distortion and nothing but acoustic guitar it really is something special. I just can’t wait in till Pearl Jam come to my part of the world so I can see this song live for myself and die happily.

8. Given to Fly - Yield
lets face it, nearly everybody loves this song, and not without reason.
Its one of the most moving songs ever written by the band, but its completely written by Mike I’m pretty sure and not by Vedder like nearly everything else. each of the stages in this song are easily distinguished, the verses have a refreshing/ relaxing bit of guitar, then the guitar turns into fast strumming and the drums start pounding a little harder for the pre chorus, and then at last the chorus is a huge sonic boom, Vedder shouts at the top of his voice, the drums sound like they are going to break their skins and the guitars as distorted as you would guess.
As if that wasn’t enough they also chucked in one of the coolest outro riffs ever.
if this song isn’t good enough to give you an orgasm then you should hear it live.

7. Sad - Lost Dogs
you know what, they call this a b-side. A B F#CKING SIDE, AGHHHHHHHH.
That was to show how I turn into the hulk with anger at how under rated this song is, actually in a way looking at how overplayed Jeremy was I’m kind of glad that people don’t know how cool this is, I don’t want to share something this magnificent with the world but other people are discovering it when they buy Lost Dogs and this information is getting placed on the internet so everyone who reads this knows now. NOOOO!!!.
But what can I say, the driving riff behind this song is like a semi roller coaster, the vocals of Eddie are some of his best ever, and these are some of his saddest lyrics which almost stand up to Black and believe me, that’s saying something. Cameron on this track shoves in some quite cool drums which almost sound like he really wants to go crazy with solos but is restrained. Even Stone gets a chance to show off his voice, no, he does not do lead vocals because he isn’t that good, but he does perfect backing vocals in the chorus. and last not least, Mike on lead busts out some PHAD licks on his guitar with a perfectly controlled solo that sounds incredibly classic though it can’t be categorised that. Brilliance is found and its not even the end of the list.

6. Go - VS
some might complain (EG - the VS-heads) about the fact that this track isn’t within the top five, and when they see my number one they will throttle me for sure but on this list, #6 is an honour in my opinion. Its by far the best heavy track the band have ever put together, I love the intro with the controlled live recording and those pounding drums are as cool as Yeddi. But when the song breaks into the good old verses you get attacked by some of coolest and fastest bass riffs in history. But the fun doesn’t stop there, for a pre chorus you have a riff so hard hitting that it could break a window with its sound waves if you turned it up loud enough. and the chorus, well that’s just as good as everything else so that means its excellent with its effective little improvisation from both guitarists and Vedder’s vocals are like crystal, a huge hunk of it! But wait, then there is an insane guitar solo, you may be wondering why this song isn’t #1 and that’s because the number one is so excessively great that you…….feel like your listening to something really good.

5. In Hiding - Yield
the thing about this song is that it is the only song in the top five which is categorised as “new Pearl Jam” and you know what, to me new Pearl Jam when your talking about Yield is just as good if not better than the old stuff referred to as “classics.”
In my description of this for my Yield I said that it was to Pearl Jam what Bohemian Rhapsody is to Queen and Paranoid Android is to Radiohead, a song that links in a huge amount of different styles into one solid piece of music. Whether its pounding drums, shouting vocals and fuzzy distortion. Or maybe the lovely guitar plucking and piano at parts, or then again maybe a brilliant drum solo by Jack Irons. this song really sums up everything that made Yield so good, it was a chance for Pearl Jam to show their talents as musicians, to let the spotlight be spread out across all 5 members, and to make fully use of each of the members talents.

4. Jeremy - Ten
Question, who here hates this song because it was so overplayed back in the day?
*lots of people put their hands up*
*Jesse (that’s me) starts laughing is a very devilish way*
well guess what you sad people, I was only just out of the womb so I didn’t have to hear the song enough times to make me sick, therefore it remains a gem in my opinion and any list of the greatest Pearl jam songs is completely in complete without it. *people in the crowd start to look sad and jealous, then they start crying*
you know whats so good about this song, Vedder, both his vocals and his lyrics seem to shine like burning magnesium on this track, telling the story of a boy who shot himself in English class because of how cr@py his life is very hard, but the fact that Vedder himself contributed to the damage because he teased Jeremy is also added into the lyrics which make them so incredibly honest. another thing that also stands out about this song is the fact that they also make a huge effort to get the instrumental up to a marvellous standard despite the fact that the lyrics and vocals are already a guaranteed excellence. the simple bass riff is backed by some hugely effective lead guitar, and the fact that using tones they can effectively increase the drama and feeling of the song without killing it. A masterpiece for sure no matter what anyone says.

3. Corduroy - Vitalogy
several drafts of this list had this track at #1, then tied with what will be number one, then tied at number two with what now is #2 but I have to say this. Its only a tint little bit from being better than Immortality because it sums up the anthemia of the bands success so well and even now I want to place it at #1 but using all of the will power I have I am going to leave it at #3.
The opening to this a solid bit which really increases the tension and gets you so exited that you may pop before the song even starts, but when it does you are greeted by one of the greatest opening lines ever, “the waiting drove me mad”, then not loosing it then it follows it on with more brilliant lyrics which are a slightly nicer way of putting across the purpose of Vitalogy than tracks like Not For You and Hey Foxymophandlemama. this song also means perfection in terms of instrumental work, its got one of the simplest yet effective riffs to base a song around, and the choruses loose some of the distortion to switch to an acoustic guitar in the hands of the rhythm guitarist which totally rocks in a non rockish way. sheer brilliance and almost the best but not quite #1, you’ll have to wait for it because its coming very soon and you’ll probably scroll down and look but please don’t it will spoil the somewhat predictable surprise.

2. Immortality - Vitalogy
you can’t just walk past this track which really is beautiful apart from the fact that it has one of the darkest feelings for a song ever, I say beautiful because of the acoustic guitar work on this is the best of the best in my opinion. Soft chords with sharp sounding improvisations pour out of your speakers its like getting seduced by a Ringwraith, the lyrics in here mess with the super natural bringing in the true genius of Vedder’s writing that is truly disturbing with its subtleness, its so good that it does the job of 13 death metal bands at being dark. Beyond the vocals and past the instrumental descriptions I have given you there is the bridge, a solid performance of beauty, effectiveness, and using the acoustic guitar to make some of the coolest riff out there which while are bluesy don’t kill the atmosphere of this great track.
I call it, Satanic blues.

Here’s What You Have Been Waiting For

1. Even Flow - Ten
ok, I resisted the chance to label Last Kiss and then say just kidding, your real number one is…”
so you see, I’m not predictable in that sense but I had been fingering at this one as being my favourite for such a long time that if you didn’t notice you need glasses. Yet, in the end this couldn’t slip from one, not against Corduroy or Immortallity which were the tracks which I though might grow on me a huge amount but yet here it is, the song which made me keep listening to Ten to the point where I decided to embark on my noble quest to collect every Pearl Jam album. This track sends me to another world as such, one that makes me think that new Pearl Jam sucks and this p!sses on everything outside of the top five. I know this is not true but this song is so good it acts like a propaganda selling tactic for the old stuff.
I love everything about this song, its got one of the simplest yet coolest riffs ever which is escalated in coolness and entertainment by Mike throwing in guitar solos nearly every where possible, that’s a big thing that contributes to its #1 placing. The lyrics form Vedder are a stellar masterpiece, logical, dark, serious, you know what I mean. Supposedly written about the struggle of a homeless person, and you can’t miss it or its purpose, and the opening lines are some of my favourites which I warm to more than I do to the first few lines of Stairway To Heaven, and that’s saying a lot.
”Freezin, rests his head on a pillow made of concrete,”
and the chorus has to be one of the greatest sing along’s ever, you can’t resist the temptation to admit you are a Pearl Jam fan at heart, No one at all!
”Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies
Oh, he don't know, so he chases them away
Someday yet, he'll begin his life again,”

then the song has a solo, which is the icing on the cake for me, not the best but dramatising and gets me going frantic with my air guitar solos, and despite the fact that many say the production sucks I have to say that I like the non-re-mastered version more, this will always be #1 for me.

Thank You For Your Time

More Pearl Jam
No Code
Live On Two Legs
Riot Act
Lost Dogs

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