The Midday Meal

A repository for the various things i consume in the course of daily existence

Friday, September 10, 2004

Song 5 Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter

I first heard Pearl Jam's Alive in 1992. I have always wished I'd brought the single. I've never been one for buying singles, particularly when I could pay a bit more and get that song and a whole lot more on the album. I've always felt that singles that don't form a part of an album experience somehow lack credibility (maybe this is some kind of attempted defence against falling for one hit wonders). In this case, I was a bit strapped for cash at the time and had considered purchasing the Alive single, which featured a "b-side" named Yellow Ledbetter and a track from the album called Once. But I figured with two album track I may as well wait a week and buy the long player.

Although Ten probably makes my list of greatest albums ever, it did mean that I missed discovering what would become one of my most favourite songs for a few years, until my older brother brought the single of Daughter that also had live version of Yellow Ledbetter as a b-side.

I'm still quite a fan of Pearl Jam, and have brought a number of those official bootleg albums they put out on a regular basis, however I only buy those concerts in which they play Yellow Ledbetter. I remember seeing Pearl Jam at NATEX and all I wanted to hear was this song and it wasn't till after the encore (with both Split Enz's I Got You and the Hunter's Throw Your Arms Around Me) that the Eddie, Mike and Jeff were left on their own to deliver this one last song that I felt justified in the money I'd spent.

I don't know what Eddie was talking about when he said he couldn't tell if he was the boxer or the bag and I've never actually seen the same version of the lyrics anywhere because Eddie never spent much time on his elocution and I am pretty sure he changes them every time he sings it anyway. It isn't important though, because my love for this song isn’t because Eddie delivered some poetic lyrical insight. I love this song because no matter how unclear what he's saying is, you can feel exactly what Eddie wanted you to feel.

I think its a song about an end, a loss, of what I don’t know. What ever it was, it will be missed, but there's no chance of getting it back. I will never know what Eddie lost, but I do know that any time I feel I've lost something important, I can put this on and spend some time with a friend who understands exactly how that feels.


  • At 2:52 PM, Blogger Luke said…

    If you are still wanting the studio version of the song, they've got a rarities B-sides album out called Lost Dogs, full of other b-sides that the flanel-wearing crowd (including myself in there) scoured their campus music stores in the mid-1990's.

  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Graham said…


    I LOVE this song! It's always been my favourite Pearl Jam song...

    I read an interview with Eddie a while back in which he said that Yellow Ledbetter was part of a three song story that begins in "Alive", goes on to "Why Go" (I think...) and then ends with "Yellow Ledbetter".

    Something to do with a guy whose world shits on him and eventually he ends up in prison awaiting execution... Of course, that might just be the journalists interpretation as Eddies mumbled answers...

  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger mister z said…

    i wondered when PJ would make their (first?) appearance in the lunch-32. Now contemplating which Living Color song might get a guernsey and when. Perhaps not yet but in the teenage numbers? Speaking of which, hmm, teenage fanclub, better check in and see what odds Centrebet is offering on their inclusion...


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