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Pearl Jam
'Alive'

Graphite pencil on illustration board 

roughly 10" by 11"

2022

Pearl Jam was introduced to the world on July 7, 1991 when the song 'Alive' was released - 51 days before their debut album 'Ten' hit stores.

Some months earlier, Eddie Vedder had been singing in punk bands and working in a gas station in San Diego, CA. From a friend, drummer Jack Irons, he was given a copy of a cassette containing instrumental demo recordings of a fledgling band from Seattle. They were looking for a singer and a drummer. Jack Irons had declined to join (at that time) but maybe Vedder could see himself in the band?

Vedder listened to the tape, then went surfing.

Between sets of waves, lyrics came to him. He sent the band a tape with his vocals over the demo and he received an invitation to Seattle to meet. He got the job.

The introduction of Pearl Jam to an MTV audience posed a conflict between them and their record company: Pearl Jam would not lip sync a video. The video would have to be filmed at a concert and the audio would have to be actual live performance. 

Director Josh Taft shot the video on August 3, 1991 at the Seattle all-ages club RKCNDY. Footage of crashing waves bookend the stirring footage of the band in action, a nod to the time and place of the lyrical inspiration;  Vedder supported on a surfboard in the pacific, rising and falling with the push of waves. In the water, on the board, memories and visions of a mother, a son, a father. On the stage, at the club, the band plays as Vedder leans backwards and drops.

The crowd catches him, holds him. 

He is riding a new wave. 

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