September 24, 2013


It is 1993, October. I am alone in my new apartment. I live here with Anthony. I am nineteen years old and for the first time in my life I am completely free. The carpet is white and beginning to stain, I worry about keeping it clean, but not too much. Responsibility seems like a good idea, but not one I consider too seriously. There is a pizza box and empty Keystone beer cans on the counter in the kitchen. Was that a roach? The CD's spill into piles from the rack, most cracked and well-worn- Check Your Head, Use Your Illusions I and II, Ten.

Anthony and I had both dropped out of San Diego State last December-- couldn't mesh with the fraternity system, no car, no friends, chasing a naive and passionate love. I had come back for her, at least the idea of her, my virginal flower plucked and now wilting. Our relationship was precarious at best, dissolving and fading fast. She seemed so young in the face of my independence. So dependent yet distant. 

I'm taking a few classes at the College of Marin I don't care anything about. Some days I go. Some days I sleep. Some days I wallow alone in my freedom and drink. My father is leaving for Iran in a few weeks. The thought of him leaving should affect me, but instead I contemplate the numbness I assume his absence will leave behind. The divorce is final. The separation complete. The facade shattered as soon I flew the coop and headed to San Diego. Good riddance I suppose. The lie was becoming too heavy to carry.

It's Tuesday, I was at the record store when it opened, and now I am home and staring at a caged sheep. I can relate before I even remove the plastic wrapping. Free in space, but bound my deeper scars. The new Pearl Jam album came out today and I have no plans other than to stay home with a twelve pack and listen to it all day long.


There is a rumbling of strange industrial sounds. Clanking. Scraping. A frenzied tribal introduction. This is different from-- Ten seconds in and I know that this album will change everything. A drum and bass jam. Guitars rumbling in the corners. Feels like a frantic escape from a pit. A ladder thrown down and quickly ascended, until a finger on the fret board of the bass slides to a fever pitch and... A massive assault of drum and rolling guitars stampede from the gates. A gavel of sound pronouncing the beginning of the trial.  The song Go is an accusation and a confession.
Never acted up before don't go on me now
I swear I never took it for granted just thought of it now
Suppose I abused you just passing it on
The lyrics have always been about confrontation within and with the self. The listener acting as both victim and abuser.
Once fastened servile now your getting sharp
Moving oh so swiftly with such disarm
I see myself in these lines. In 1993 at nineteen I was becoming sharp and moving so swiftly. I was  victim turned perpetrator. This song liberated me from the years of victimhood and forced me to accuse myself of abuse. Who I was attacking unclear: Her, the world, my parents, him, myself?
I pulled the covers over him shoulda' pulled the alarm
Turned to my nemesis a fool no fucking god
No, time, suck, my, please,
Don't go on me
The nemesis myself. Don't go on me, a plea with the self to not give up. To never allow myself to be the victim again. The messages all unclear, but fueled by a comforting pulsating rage. Moving like a set of waves. Pounding. One after the other.

The rest vintage vague Vedder.
Suck, blood, touch, please, tunnel vision, tuck, time, see,
Please, please, please,
Don't go on me

Please, Don't you want me, don't go on me,
Please, don't go on me
Musically there could not be a better opening song for an album by a band at this stage of their career. After the accusatory lyrics and pounding guitar of the verses, the song literally soars with a McCready solo that is simply explosive. The song ends with a chorus of Vedder screaming, guitars dancing on the fret board and another blistering solo crescendo which ends like a punch in the face.

Go was the beginning of a new era both for Pearl Jam and for me. This album is still the crutch I use for dealing with difficult feelings and conflicts within myself. The anger and frustration of a band misunderstood becomes the perfect blue print for a self also caught in confusion. The sheep becoming the perfect metaphor. I was free in terms of independence, but still felt misunderstood and bound my a rage and an anger that only this album could help me unleash and slowly understand.

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