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crash_davis

Pearl Jam's Black: Broken down and analyzed

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I don't know shit about music with respect to playing instruments, notes, chords, music theory, you name it. What I do know is that is top 10, prob to 5, greatest song ever composed. So from a music idiot perspective, I am in awe to discover everything that goes on in this song, how all the notes played by every instrument and sung is deliberate and in harmony with the whole.

Anyway, I thought this was interesting for someone like me to share to get a better understand of how hard it is to write a damned near perfect song.

 

 

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it's not even top 5 greatest pearl jam songs, but interesting video. 

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2 minutes ago, stc said:

it's not even top 5 greatest pearl jam songs, but interesting video. 

motherfucker, i will cut you!

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Posted (edited)

Let's argue over the meaning. PJ and EV will not discuss the meaning of this song. Only thing I've read is that it's a very personal song for EV. 

From my high school, when this was released, until just recently, I always thought it was about an ex-GF. God knows I wallowed on this song over a few ex-GFs. Erin, you cheating bitch!

Then one day last year, it hit me that it's from a mother or father's perspective about losing a young daughter. After listening to this from that perspective the song made more sense. Afterwards googling the meaning and it's rumored to be about a miscarriage by EV's ex GF or somesuch. Who knows? But I stand by my new found meaning.

Edited by crash_davis

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i've always thought it was the perspective of a dad who'd messed up and was ostracized from the family.

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35 minutes ago, stc said:

it's not even top 5 greatest pearl jam songs, but interesting video. 

true...and i'm obviously the pj authority!

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Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did
All five horizons revolved around her soul as the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn, ooh
And all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
 
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black
Tattooed everything
 
I take a walk outside, I'm surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear
Oh and twisted thoughts that spin 'round my head
I'm spinning, oh I'm spinning, how quick the sun can drop away
 
And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything
All the pictures have all been washed in black
Tattooed everything
 
All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be yeah
Oh oh ooh
 
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, oh can't it be mine?
Ooh, ah yeah, ah ooh
 
My interpretation. 5 year old (5 horizons) daughter dies (spread out before me as her body once did). Mom sees other children playing and is upset reminded that daughter is dead. And then mom commits suicide (cradle broken) glass and she's dying from losing blood from slitting her wrist (pictures turned to black, world to black). Daughter is in "heaven" (star in sky) and mom wanted to be with her here on Earth. In the MTV unplugged version, EV ends the song repeating "We belong together, We belong together..." again pain that mother and daughter should be together.
 
But I'm as full of shit as the next guy, except I know for a fact this is top 5 songs evah!
 
Anyway, amazed again how refined and refrained all the instruments and notes were but the song is a fucking masterpiece.

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Posted (edited)

Eddie Vedder explained in the Pearl Jam 20 documentary that this song is about first relationships. "The song is about letting go," said Vedder. "It's very rare for a relationship to withstand the Earth's gravitational pull and where it's going to take people and how they're going to grow. I've heard it said that you can't really have a true love unless it was a love unrequited. It's a harsh one, because then your truest one is the one you can't have forever."

also, ed's enjoying his quarantine...

 

 

 

Edited by 4th&Five

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Posted (edited)

yea i can never watch that last part where he cries and sings "come back" and not get choked up.

this is his whole speech before singing.

 

"It is Saint Giovanni's day. The first two letters reminds me of one band... Soundgarden....I obviously don’t have a band up here, but I have you, and we have each other. We’ve been playing with some string sections, and they couldn’t be here tonight. So I’m looking to employ you, and employ you to do this one together, we’ll borrow a few Stone chords. We are many, we are one, and probably all of us at one time have been through the blacks."

i find it interesting what he said about all of us at one time going through the blacks, especially with chris dying from suicide. for me it adds to my belief about the mother/father committing suicide in the song.

Edited by crash_davis

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3 hours ago, stc said:

it's not even top 5 greatest pearl jam songs, but interesting video. 

tenor.gif?itemid=4946069

 

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Posted (edited)

It's a magnificent recording.  The guitar and drum tones are unreal.  The soul with which the band plays is unreal.  I'm nowhere near the world's biggest PJ fan, but I'd put "Black" right up there with "Even Flow" and "Spin the Black Circle" as my favorites.

I've honestly never paid all that much attention to Eddie Vedder's lyrics.  I'm not sure if he's a poet, a stoner, or both.  I dig the raw, classic rock sound of the band, though.

EDIT:  I just noticed the Fender Rhodes piano on the track.  Fuck me, I've heard the song 1,000 times and never picked up on it.  Wonderful mix.

Edited by jimmyjazz

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1 hour ago, jimmyjazz said:

It's a magnificent recording.  The guitar and drum tones are unreal....

  Wonderful mix.

Agreed.

Mixed by Austin transplant Tim Palmer.

 

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2 minutes ago, Paul Wesley said:

Agreed.

Mixed by Austin transplant Tim Palmer.

 

Really?  I had no idea.

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Good song or not, it is insanely boring to play in a band. Which is too bad because a lot of Pearl Jam songs are a fucking blast.

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14 hours ago, jimmyjazz said:

EDIT:  I just noticed the Fender Rhodes piano on the track.  Fuck me, I've heard the song 1,000 times and never picked up on it.  Wonderful mix.

That is so funny to me because when I shared this video with 4th&Five a while back, I noted to him that I was surprised Rick thought there was anyone that wasn’t aware of the piano presence at the end. 

I’m not the world’s authority on PJ either but Black is definitely one of my favs of theirs for sure.  I also suspect it was a big contributor to the overwhelming success of Ten because of the balance it helped provide to the album.  The two guitar tracks on the song are awesome, as is EV’s vocal track obviously.

 

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Posted (edited)

Black is a great song. It's a beautiful recording. It's probably the most accessible Pearly Jam song. It's kind of in the same category as Yellow Ledbetter and Alive where EV does his most emotional mumble-singing. My favorite track of theirs is State of Love and Trust

Edited by irishtexan

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4 minutes ago, irishtexan said:

My favorite track of theirs is State of Love and Trust

That is a great fucking track. I really enjoy the hard rocking PJ songs. Another good one (also from Singles) is Breath. Corduroy is badass too.

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2 hours ago, sidis said:

That is so funny to me because when I shared this video with 4th&Five a while back, I noted to him that I was surprised Rick thought there was anyone that wasn’t aware of the piano presence at the end. 

I didn't watch the Beato video -- what exactly did he say about the piano?

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41 minutes ago, BrickHorn said:

That is a great fucking track. I really enjoy the hard rocking PJ songs. Another good one (also from Singles) is Breath. Corduroy is badass too.

Black

Courdory 

I Got Id (Shit)

Hail, hail

Rearviewmirror

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i'm not even sure i could rank my top 5 pj albums!  smile has been my favorite song for quite a while though.  

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corduroy

state of love and trust

alive

elderly woman behind the counter in a small town

dissident (mostly because it's ridiculously underrated. real answer is given to fly)

 

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i recently learned that neil young played lead guitar on i got id, which makes complete sense when listening to it. 

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Posted (edited)

He plays on Long Road too.  The rest of the band backed him on Mirrorball and Eddie sings backup on a few of those (same sessions), which is why that EP is called Merkinball.  The first song I heard PJ play live was Act of Love from that record.

 

Edited by 4th&Five

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5 hours ago, bschoolprof said:

let me guess, there's mixolydian and Rick creams himself over it in the video.  

Haha.  He definitely goes way overboard comparing ever single vocal note to that moment’s chord, and then tries to tell us the writer’s intent   

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SOLAT (the tempo from unplugged serves the song better than the studio cut)

Alive/Once/Footsteps

Elderly Woman

Do the Evolution / Brain of J (Yield is their most complete album .. has the rock anthem tracks a'la Ten, and the artistic reach tracks a'la Vitology/Binaural).

Rearviewmirror (.Vs is a tight, tight album altogether tho)

 

-

 

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2 hours ago, NTVTXN said:

Present Tense

Love Boat 

Life Wasted

Inside Job

Hail

Now we’re talking lyrics. Well done. 

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On 7/9/2020 at 1:54 PM, 4th&Five said:

true...and i'm obviously the pj authority!

After 25 years of deliberation, Black has settled firmly into my personal top 5 and arguable number 1. Corduroy makes a strong argument, though. 
 

Here’s one dude’s Pearl Jam top 60 songs list. Huge point deductions for no In Hiding, though. 
 

https://uproxx.com/indie/pearl-jam-best-songs-ranked/

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Posted (edited)
On 7/10/2020 at 2:31 PM, Paul Wesley said:

Haha.  He definitely goes way overboard comparing ever single vocal note to that moment’s chord, and then tries to tell us the writer’s intent   

I love the Rick videos, but yeah I'm thinking "Rick, most of that shit was on accident."

 

Unless it's Steely Dan.

 

 

Edited by Rip76

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Posted (edited)

Black

Jeremy

Daughter

Better Man

Elderly Woman or Even Flow. Even Flow is probably a better song, I probably like Elderly Woman a little better, though.

Best/favorite whatever. I haven't played out much of their stuff but their deep tracks have always been meh to me. Their biggest songs tend to be my favorites.

Black is definitely my #1 though. That video series seems neat. Watched the first few minutes and it's a little dumbed down for my taste (yes there's piano on Black) but I can see the appeal.

Edited by ztejas

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Notable I guess that she changed the pronoun from hers to his. Further suggests that maybe it’s a song about a relationship. Seems pretty straightforward to me but I haven’t given it a lot of thought.

And fuck now I’m gonna complain about this song.

I like PJ (not as much as Soundgarden and Alice In Chains) but I never much cared for Black. Partly because it was so mainstream and eeeeeeeveryone loves it and I have contrarian tendencies: I was absolutely insufferable to talk to about music when I was young because I thought everything popular sucked. But the other thing I’ve never liked about Black is Eddie’s vocal affectations in a couple spots, notably when he sings “around” and “surrounded”. It just annoys me and sounds like he’s trying too hard (which is a criticism I have of Eddie in general sometimes, for fucks sake man have some fun on stage once in awhile).

I know, trivial things that annoy you, unpopular opinions thread, etc.

I do really like that last PJ album. Even Flow will always be #1 for me though. Now that’s a fun song to play with friends.

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On 7/30/2020 at 5:53 PM, 4th&Five said:
 

Whoa.  She can really sing.  She's 15?  Holy shit.  She has very pure tone, great pitch, and almost no vibrato, nor any of that constipato effect so many modern pop singers use.

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On 7/9/2020 at 10:52 AM, stc said:

it's not even top 5 greatest pearl jam songs, but interesting video. 

I cannot agree with this.  It's a great song.

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