When I was 14, I practically begged my brother to get me Pearl Jam’s VS on tape. That was by far the most memorable Christmas gift that year.

Even though I lived in the Caribbean, far, far, FAR away from the flannel shirt set in Seattle, I got way into the grunge scene via MTV. I was a dancehall queen and hip hop head by day and an Alternative Nation, 120 Minutes wannabe rocker by night — I definitely hid my growing rock music collection from some of my friends. It just wasn’t cool to like rock music amongst them. And I desperately wanted to be cool back then. But now I don’t care what people think — Pearl Jam’s got a lot of haters, and I hear it all the time. “They suck,” the cashier at CVS told me when I told him what show I was going to next. (he’s more of a death metal guy, apparently).

In a certain sense — and feel free to argue with me — Pearl Jam has never really been a “cool” band. They were earnest and political and vocal long before most other bands of their era were. They were angry, more than angsty. They took their musical cues from classic rock — The Who and Neil Young, rather than The Pixies and The Germs. In the early days of grunge, the media pitted Pearl Jam against Nirvana — Kurt Cobain claimed he liked Eddie Vedder as a person, but couldn’t stand their music. Tragically, Nirvana’s long gone. But Pearl Jam rocks on, long after almost all of their peers in the early Nineties alternative scene have broken apart. Now some of those bands — I see you, Stone Temple Pilots — are coming back together again. My money’s on Soundgarden being the next big Nineties rock band to reunite to a chorus of cash registers).

Anyway — I was always a Pearl Jam fan already, but when I saw them live for the first time, I became a Pearl Jam fanatic. (That’s probably the only thing Dennis Rodman and I have in common). I love live music that just blows me away, I love when an audience is so entranced that they sing all of the lyrics, and I love when a band engages in between song banter between themselves and the crowd. I’d say Pearl Jam ranks in the top five concert experiences I’ve ever had, alongside The Roots and Barrington Levy.

They can be relied upon to unleash at least one classic Who cover, and my fingers are crossed that they do Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World — another band favorite. I’m hoping that Eddie Vedder performs his searing version of “Here’s To the State of Mississippi, which excoriates each member of Bush’s government by name and deed.

I was at odds over which video to share, here. Alive is always amazing, but too obvious. Do The Evolution is one of the best music videos ever, IMO — but way too dark and depressing. Yellow Ledbetter is one of my faves, but I think I found the one. Better Man. It’s such a great experience, being there, live, singing along. I love the song, I love the message, and I’m happy to share with the world what I hid from some of my friends back in high school — I love Pearl Jam. Now and forever. There, I said it.

No shame. Are you a closet PJ fan? Do you have a favorite song, or album? Share!

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Kiana says:
June 11, 2008, 8:57 pm
I hid my love of rock too when I was a kid. Towards the end of high school I said screw it "I like what I like". They had me the first time I heard Black. Love them!!
heyhey says:
June 11, 2008, 9:03 pm
Okay, I'll admit this: I got into Pearl Jam first, then Tribe Called Quest second. Hard to believe they were from the same era, since Lupe and crew (whether they want to admit it or not) have that Tribe/De La influence so they sound more "current", but rock now is very 80s, and grunge seems just eons past. I wonder if The Kids will "discover" Pearl Jam, Soundgarden next. Whip out your flannel shirts, ladies. Bella, did you pick up the "Temple of The Dog" collabo w/ Eddie, Chris Cornell (who is yummy, dammit) and members of Mother Love Bone? A good album. Do the kids still say "album"?
Sabrina97 says:
June 11, 2008, 9:12 pm
I love "Jeremy".... the video was so spooky. And "even Flow" was a great song too. I must admit, though, that I have not really kept up with Vedder and the crew since. I might have to look them up again.
Viva La Fro says:
June 11, 2008, 9:35 pm
I'm not a PJ fan (That Jeremy video might have scarred me for life, lol) but I just wanted to send some love your way for sharing your unconventional tastes. Black folks catch a lot of flack from our own for liking anything outside of Rap, R&B, or Reggae, so it's really cool to see you flaunt your individualism!
tanya says:
June 11, 2008, 9:44 pm
I'm not a PJ fan myself but I LOVED me (and still do) some Nirvana. Also, Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine were in constant rotation on my Sony Discman (ha, totally dating myself), along with Mary J. Blige and Sade. And I didn't care who knew it because I was an outcast anyway. Ugh, I miss the 90s. I hope you enjoy the concert!
Lisa says:
June 11, 2008, 9:45 pm
I like the rocker music. the other day, i met a rocker on Sugarmommacupid.c o m. he is funny guy with sense of humor. he tell me funny news about rock music. as you know, sugarmommacupid caters to successful women dating young and charming men. there are many new member joining the site.
hoorah says:
June 11, 2008, 10:07 pm
PJ takes me back to junior high and my bestest friend in the world at the time, Chris Raney. My favorite song is 'Black'. I always stop whatever I'm doing and listen when I come across it. PJ was talking about school violence and bullying with 'Jeremy' before they started garnering attenion. Kinda like how Third Eye Blind hit it big with a song about the horribleness of meth addiction years before it slammed into our communities and they had to re-formulate NyQuil.
p1tey1 says:
June 11, 2008, 10:59 pm
I too enjoy some rock music, but I never hid it. I like a lot of the older stuff, like the Eagles and Led Zeppin, I LOVE to blast "Cashmere" in my car!!! A lot of the kids I grew up with in the "hood" in Chicago were in to rock. Rock on Bella!!!
nappyone says:
June 12, 2008, 12:05 am
Thank You, Thank You!! I love this song. It brings back so many memories. Like you I hid my love for rock and alternative music (although I must have not done it well enough, since I was accused of not being black enough based on my CD collection). Kudos to you for this post. Have fun at the concert.
AroundHarlem.com says:
June 12, 2008, 12:54 am
Born and raised in the projects in Harlem. I like Pearl Jam. I got into them and other rock music during my freshman year in college. I was pre-med and was up late many nights studying. I turned to MTV because I needed to have sound but didn't want to get caught up into any TV shows that would distract me. I eventually began watching Headbangers Ball almost every night and added MTV to my regular TV watching schedule during the day. Never been ashamed to admit it.
J. Diva says:
June 12, 2008, 2:25 am
Alanis Morisette, No Doubt (not Gwen solo), N.E.R.D., Lenny Kravitz (<3), Ace of Base (not rap, but corny corny swedish pop)...etc...I mean I've honestly never been super heavy into most rappers and R&B. Outside of Neo Soul and the more "organic" kind of hip hop (think Roots, Common, Tribe, etc...), I listen to oldies (from the 40's to the 80's), pop, rock, and blues. Plus, I like alot of indie stuff...can't forget my occasional salsa and samba songs. My playlist will go from Mos Def to Queen to Bjork to Sergio Mendes all in the same playlist.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
June 12, 2008, 4:33 am
I saw them live in NYC , one of the best concerts in my life. At the time I was working at Sony Music and PJ were huge. They were also involved with some excellent charities. I got flack from my peeps when I went to college because I dared to like groups like Led Zep, genres like salsa, and reggae along with hip/hop and R&B. I do think people are more open minded these days.
Peajai says:
June 12, 2008, 7:51 am
Peajai is definitely a PJ fan... Yellow Ledbetter and Better Man are my favorites. I remember one of my friends telling me back in the day that PJ was too mainstream for them. But back then I loved everything alternative. So you think Soundgarden is getting back together? Chris Cornell has been in the media alot lately since his song getting covered on American Idol. He even popped up in a Verizon commercial. I wouldn't mind seeing more of him... he is, was, and always will be hella fine! :) P.S. Why did I just watch Black Hole Sun on Youtube and I still knew most of the words?? I haven't heard that song in years!
kieya says:
June 12, 2008, 7:56 am
I love Pearl Jam. I remember the first time I heard Jeremy & I was hooked at the intensity & passion in his voice. I was always an...eccentric child when it came to music tastes. People just sorta accepted that I wasn't listening to Biggie & Jay Z and let me dwindle off lol
meechee says:
June 12, 2008, 8:27 am
Love Pearl Jam!! Black, Yellowledbetter...take your pick!!
warrior11209 says:
June 12, 2008, 10:05 am
I was a BIG Rolling Stones , Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendricks fan back in the day ...am I showing my age (LOL). I really did not have any problems with other people and their opinions - I was kind of an outsider as a teen. My kids are into Pear Jam , No Doubt , Rolling Stones , Boo Diddley , Evanesence, etc - their friends also are variedin their music choices. I still run around blaring the Stones in my car.
meg says:
June 12, 2008, 11:05 am
bella, LOVE IT. Pearl Jam defined my youth in many ways. And they still make great music. I wish I had been in high school during the early nineties instead of the late nineties! You're so lucky to see them live. Have an awesome time!
AmiJane says:
June 12, 2008, 11:42 am
Never listened to PJ, but, WOW! I watched the video and there was definitely something majical going on:)
DiosaNegra1967 says:
June 12, 2008, 1:02 pm
J.Diva and warrior11029: Oh yeah! I hate with a passion people who say "Black people don't listen to rock music..." or my favorite.... "Black people don't play rock n' roll...." Hey, we not only invented most (if not all) of the riffs....we also gave the genre its' name! Although, PJ wasn't my fave...I could appreciate a few of their songs from time to time....I was (and still am) into Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siousxie & The Banshees.... I kinda miss the 70's though....'cos that's when there was more of a willingness to blend and experiment with different sounds and genres. Now, not so much...too many artists sound alike!
anon says:
June 12, 2008, 1:58 pm
Thanks for cracking open the alternative closet. I never got into pearl jam but I was aware of all the bands of that era. Smashing Pumpkins,STP, and Soundgarden being my favourites. Some of those songs are classic...
Niki says:
June 12, 2008, 2:28 pm
I grew up in a household where my folks played everything from Barbra Streisand to Paliament & Funkadelic, so I was destined to have diverse tast in music. I rocked Pearl Jam & Nirvana in high school. I will always have a special place in my heart for STP--I feel the same way about Scott Weiland as I feel about Amy Winehouse--amazing talent, just hoping they can get themselves together in time.
Tiffany says:
June 13, 2008, 8:56 am
I love Pearl Jam! But I am more of a Classic Rock girl. Allman Brothers, Boston, Spirit, ELP, etc. I like to rock out to "Alive."
blackberry says:
June 14, 2008, 1:37 pm
Aisha says:
June 14, 2008, 7:20 pm
Oh, man Patrice!! There I was in good ole Bishops loving, loving, loving bands like Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Poison, Nelson, Guns N' Roses...Guns N' Roses still haunts me to this day...aahhhh...it feels good to confess lol Love Aisha Shillingford :)
Tamra says:
June 17, 2008, 9:34 am
I'm a huge rock and Seattle Grunge fan too--I love PJ. I never hid my love for rock, grunge and alternative music--heck, for one thing I didn't *care* who knew, and then, I never really had enough friends growing up for it to matter anyway. I love blasting PJ and others when I'm working in my studio. NOW, one of my faves they categorize as "Seattle Grunge wannabes" is Creed. I don't care what they say, I LOVE Creed. Scott Stapp might have his issues, hehe, but Creed is awesome! I also love Def Leppard... Oh, and Aerosmith... ;-)
JB says:
June 22, 2008, 2:58 pm
I like PJ's first album. The debut records tend to be the best. Since then, I've lost touch with them. PJ was ahead of their time as far as being political. I do remember PJ's public losing battle with Ticketmaster and the brouhaha that ensued. Perhaps that's the reason they've remained more on the fringe of things in the last 10-15 years that "grunge" has blown off the radar. Like you mentioned,all these big money making bands have broken up or imploded and yet PJ's still trucking. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Screaming Trees, Smashing Pumpkins, Blind Melon, Alice in Chains struggling after Layne Staley OD'd in 2002. So who was the better band after all?
Laura says:
June 22, 2008, 11:50 pm
I know this post is a little late but I just have to say...that I am SO HAPPY that I'm not the only one out there who likes rock! I loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers & Faith No More!
kendra says:
June 28, 2008, 10:34 pm
Pearl Jam is so awesome. Even though I barely listen to mainstream current rock (I'm more of an underground rock fan, with the exception of classic rock and 90s alternative lol), they still rock my world. And that whole "black people dont listen to/play rock music is a load of crap. I will always love my rock n roll no matter what anyone says! \m/
Lianne says:
April 11, 2009, 10:53 pm
Girl...you took me back. I haven't seen them play in years BUT I just bought the "Ten" Legacy edition recently and it all came flooding back. Thanks for reminding me of what a great band they are!! Love ya! L
hydraulic presses says:
June 23, 2010, 9:42 am
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