Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eddie Vedder Opera

So I'm at the health club this morning taking Jeanie's group strength and cardio class, which is awesome, and not riding my bike; in fact I jogged over to the club (about 1.5 miles) instead of riding even that distance.  After work I went to the track for Jane's equally awesome track workout (running).  Apparently I'm training for the courage classic by doing a whole bunch of stuff that isn't actually riding a bike.  Well scratch that, I did commute to work on the bike so that's 10 flat miles for the day.  Incidentally not going to get it done.  Whatever.

Actually that's not what I wanted to write about today.  First, the pitch:  Celeste and I are still soliciting donations for our Courage Classic Ride in July.  We're trying to raise $1,000 each, $2,000 total.  Any amount you can contribute would be just wonderful, thanks!  Donate here:

or here:


Anyway, while I was at the health club I heard a song I've not heard in some time:  "Black" by Pearl Jam.  It was fairly faint in the speakers so I didn't recognize it until they got to the end bit, where Eddie Vedder sings:

"I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be the sun in somebody else's sky, but why, why, why can't it be, can't it be mine?"

Except of course as you know, he doesn't sing "mine" like that, he sings it like:

"Muhhhhhhhhhh-aaa-aaaah-ahhhh-hiiiii-ja-jaaa, whooo!"

(I had to look up the lyric on line b/c I wasn't completely sure that the word was, indeed "mine", incidentally)

Yeah, you know the part, everyone does!  In fact, as I'm listening along I realize that this is a live version of the song, and when he gets to the word "mine", the entire crowd sings along with each and every heartfelt inflection and vocalization of the word, in a grotesque echo of the original.  And I would do exactly the same thing if I was there, oh yes.  And how that must annoy Mr. Vedder!  Actually he's probably come to grips with the fact that every time he sings "black", this totally sincere, passionate, sad, intense, wonderful song, a bunch of idiot frat boys in the front row are going to bellow it right back in his face.  I'm certain he's simultaneously touched and appalled!  "Black" is one of those songs for me that I really liked, then I hated because I heard it too much, but now it is ok for me to like it again.  There's probably 4,000 other songs like that for me, all in various stages of that likability U-shaped continuum. 

But I actually had a good reason for hating that song.  I was in college when "Black" came out, and suddenly every girl on campus was in love with Eddie Vedder, which was bad news for the rest of us very non-Eddie Vedder types.  I heard the song and was impressed with the soulful intense vocal, but the girls heard that song and were instantly smitten with what appeared to be our generation's Van Morrison.  Overflowing with smit, I tell you.  Believe me, us normal guys had no chance to compete.  Oh, I grew my hair our and tried to look grunge, or at least tie a long sleeved shirt around my waist, and write poetry, and say deep things, and look both hurt and angry and cool all at once, but I was a fraud and all the girls knew it.  Damn you Eddie Vedder for being so perfect!  So I turned up my nose on Pearl Jam and went right to, uh, INXS apparently.  Hopeless.

But now I can like it again as I have come to grips with my own inadequacies in comparison to Eddie Vedder.  It's tough to be angry with him for stretching out the word "mine" into a 5 second aria, I applaud his verve.  Which brings me to my final observation about "black".  I've decided that the song is all rather operatic in nature.  You may scoff, but the overwhelming sense of sadness and lack of any redemption, lyrically or musically, rather strongly reminds me of some of Puccini's best work.  I'm thinking Tosca, but I always think Tosca.  Well, here.  Compare Placido Domingo with Eddie Vedder for yourself.  It's rock vs. opera, but they share the same intensity and passion, and in this case, the same ability to really milk a word for all it's worth.

First, Placido Domingo:

And here is Eddie Vedder:

Maybe I'm the only one seeing the similarities here? Well, it sounds like opera to me. And that's a good thing!

Ok tomorrow I will ride.  More than 10 miles.  Should be all rather exciting.  Hopefully not operatic though.

Oh and one more thing, congratulations to Ft. Collins' own Nick Clark for finishing in 3rd place in last weekend's Western States 100 miles race!  Jolly good Nick.  See you at Towers on Thursday.  I might ride my bike to the bi-weekly suffer-fest on the hill!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I can honestly say that I would never have considered what now seems so obvious about "Black" and "Tosca" Or Vedder and PD. Preach On!