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The Queue: Pearl Jam’s Yield

Over 23 years ago, Pearl Jam released their fifth studio album called Yield. Being an angsty teenager is one thing. But when an album breeds beliefs, self-recognition, musical determination, and lifelong shaping, that’s a whole other level of impact. It’s evolution, baby!

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Photo by Danny Clinch (Loud Wire)

If music is truly “the soundtrack of your life,” then prepare to have an open look into various lives, one album at a time. The Queue is The Intermission’s music series that reviews albums, but in a unique way. Unlike most album reviews that distinctly critique how impressive or terrible a newly-released album is, The Queue will share entertaining stories and interesting nuggets of information about the albums we’ve loved over the years. Old, new, and in between. There are no restrictions or age limitations on our own individual musical tastes, so why have any within this series? Exactly.

Visit The Queue‘s main page (as well as in the top/side menus) for all series content.


Hey, ’90s kids. Remember back then, in the ’90s, when you would ask your parents for a CD for Christmas, and they’d buy the wrong one? Happened every year without fail, right? Where I grew up, there was only one record store, and my parents never went to it. They’d just buy CDs wherever they found them, as long as they were cheap. Which usually (always) meant third-rate blues compilations that came from the Canadian Tire in Atholville, New Brunswick.

In 1998, I wanted to be angsty. I tried my best, really I did. Didn’t we all? It was hard though because at that point Kurt Cobain was dead, Alice In Chains hadn’t done a show in two years, and Soundgarden had broken up the year before. The only “grunge” band left was Pearl Jam. I desperately wanted their newest release. I told my parents that, fully expecting to not get it. But somehow I did. They came through for me and got me Pearl Jam’s Yield album.

Fresh off their weird-as-shit No Code, and a few years removed from their well-publicized fight with Ticketmaster, Pearl Jam seemed, for lack of a better term, ready. I remember back then the big thing with Pearl Jam was they hadn’t made a music video since their debut album in 1991. Folks freaked for this record because they were finally going to put a new video out for “Do the Evolution,” but the joke was on us. It was an animated video. But was the joke REALLY on us? Because that video was directed by the one and only Todd McFarlane.

I would’ve been turning 17 that year, and with the guitar I had, tried to learn the entire thing from beginning to end. It’s hard to learn an album full of electric guitars on an acoustic, but I gave it my best. Except for “Given to Fly.” I could never figure that shit out. The picking pattern that guitar player Mike McCready played on that song still confuses me after almost three decades of playing guitar. As an aside (you may or may not already know this), on most Pearl Jam albums, the guitars of McCready, and Stone Gossard are actually panned, meaning that Mike is always in your left ear, and Stone is always in your right ear. Neat, right?

We did have the internet back then in the late ’90s (does anyone remember their ICQ number?), but we didn’t have that instant connection with other people and bands like we do today. It took a little while, but I remember when I figured out that there was a tiny yield sign hidden in every picture in the liner notes, it seemed like such a cool thing to do, further solidifying my absolute obsession with Pearl Jam.

Yield has been out comin’ on 25 years now and it’s still a record that hits my rotation on a super regular basis. While a lot of my friends will swing back to Ten and Vs., I spend most of my time with Yield, remembering being young, remembering spending summers at camps, and learning how to be who I wanted to be. I remember bringing it with me when I moved out of my parent’s house to go to college. I remember listening to the lyrics and reading the liner notes and seeing how Pearl Jam’s use of language, and the beliefs they portrayed in their songs, seemed at odds with what I was used to and what I believed.

So if there were no angels would there be no sin?
You better stop me before I begin
.
Push Me, Pull Me” -Eddie Vedder (1998)

My old man did not like that lyric.

The Queue is meant to reach back and explore the albums that helped shape us, the albums that still sit with us years removed from the fact. I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have kept playing guitar without this record. This album also helped me to find my own beliefs, and recognize what helped me deal. I can’t overstate the impact that this music has had on my life, as subtle as it’s been.

Makes sense, right? It’s evolution, baby!



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