If you are older than thirty, and want to feel instantly old, read the next sentence:
Pearl Jam is celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
I remember when I fell in love with them. I was 16 and I bought the album at the store I worked at, K-mart. It was a cassette and it cost me ten bucks. I listened to it and listened to it and listened to it and listened to it. And when they released a new album, I bought that one. And when they released another album, I got that one. It wasn’t until yesterday that I suddenly understood that I had been doing that, buying the music of a band that I loved, for 17 years. Over half of my life.
There was something that happened once. I bought Vitalogy I think, listening to it on a car ride home. One of their songs pinged on and I remember thinking, you know, I’m going to listen to this band for as long as I can. This is music that is apart of me. I wasn’t wrong. I was amazingly right. How did I know that this bad was creating music for me, music I was going to love forever? Writing this blog post, I’m listening to all their albums on shuffle and I could easily do it all night. Every song resonates. Every song is saying something to me and every song feels like there is a love on the other end of it. There are people that “get” me.
This means even more to me than it should because I was the weird black kid listening to rock and roll. That just didn’t happen then. It wasn’t done. At any given day, I could be listening to rock or rap or both and I never missed a beat. People thought it was a fade, that I would grow out of it. A black boy rocking out to rock music is normal now, as it always should have been. I’m not saying that I broke barriers, and I apologize for pulling the narcissistic switch. But I was made fun of for listening, for loving, this music. It is amazingly freeing to know that I was right, they were wrong. I wish I could show my Young self his old self, show him that he’ll be just fine.
No, Pearl Jam didn’t save my life. And they aren’t the greatest band on the planet. But they are my favorite band. I can’t imagine not having them in my life. And, you know? This is the first time I’ve felt fine with how old I’ve become, with how I’ve moved through history, my grey hairs, my old bones, all the crap that I’ve taken along through my life and all the dust in the cracks of my skin. I can say that I’ve been with Pearl Jam from the beginning. Their anniversary is my anniversary, an anniversary of the growing roots of who I was and who I am.