VIDEO: The Story Of Pearl Jam's Alive
17 July 2018, 22:19
As Pearl Jam close their European tour dates at London's O2, we delve into the story behind the grunge band's biggest anthems.
Pearl Jam are set to play their rescheduled date at The O2, London tonight (17 July), bringing their epic European tour dates to a close.
Their mammoth two-and-a-half hour set will no doubt be a crowd-pleasing and career-spanning set, including one of their most-loved tracks and their debut single, Alive.
Watch them perform the anthem at The O2, London and find out the story behind the track here.
Alive was the first single from Pearl Jam's debut album Ten.
Released on 7 July 1991, the song is a semi-autobiographical account which reflects Eddie Vedder's own childhood experience about being told the truth about his real father.
But the song's origins go much further back than the frontman...
Back in 1990, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard wrote the music for a song he entitled Dollar Short while he was still a member of the band Mother Love Bone.
Their frontman Andrew Wood - who is said to have sung on the original track - tragically died of a heroin overdose, leading Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament to start playing with guitarist Mike McCready in the hopes of starting a new band.
Dollar Short, along with four other tracks, made it onto a tape called Stone Gossard Demos '91, which was circulated in the hopes of finding a drummer and a vocalist.
Eddie Vedder - who is believed to have been working as a security guard at the time - managed to get hold of the tapes, and listened to them just before surfing- being inspired to write lyrics.
He recorded his vocals to the music before mailing it back to the band. After hearing it, they invited him to come to Seattle and asked him to join them soon after.
The band - then called Mookie Blaylock after US basketball player Daron Oshay "Mookie" Blaylock - recorded the track during a demo session in London Bridge in January 1991. The rest, as they say is history.
But what about the song's lyrics and meaning?
Alive is the first part of a trilogy of songs, followed by Once, which also featured on Pearl Jam's debut album and Footsteps. The latter didn't make the record, but went on to feature as the B-side of their Jeremy single.
It tells the story of a man who finds out his father is actually his stepfather and that his biological dad is actually dead- an event which occurred in Eddie Vedder's own life when he was a teenager.
"Son, she said
Have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy
Was nothin' but a..."
The fictional element of the song sees the mother then have an incestuous relationship with the son, who resembles his biological father.
The track Once then sees the man go on a killing spree, while Footsteps sees him await execution from his prison cell.
Watch the official video for Alive here:
Eddie Vedder has often described the song as a "curse," but revealed how the interpretation of it has changed throughout the years.
On VH1's Storyteller's series, the grunge legend explained: "The original story being told in the song is of a young man being made aware of some shocking truths.
"And one was that the guy he believed to be his father while growing up was not, and number two was that his real father had passed away a few years before. As if adolescence wasn't tough enough..."
He added: "The guy was me, but I barely knew me then. To be honest I was barely there to be known. So he took this to be a curse, like fine you told me this secret, but I've gotta figure a way to deal with this.
"And fine the dad's dead but I'm still alive and I've gotta deal with this. So it was a curse."
Watch a clip of TV special here:
The frontman continued: "So cut to a few years later and we're playing to larger and larger audiences and they're responding to this chorus in a way that you never thought.
"And folks are jumping up in the aisles, using their bodies to express themselves and singing along 'I'm still alive' en masse. So every night when I look out at this sea of people reacting on their own positive interpretation, it was really incredible.
"The audience changed the meaning of these words and when they sing 'I'm still alive' it's like they're celebrating.
He concluded: "And here's the thing. When they changed the meaning of those words, they lifted the curse."
Watch Eddie Vedder's touching speech at Pearl Jam's rescheduled London gig: