Written and posted with the consent of guest writer Anne Marie Cummings
Photo By Alan Hess
It was 9:00PM. A cool night in L.A. and I was the only customer seated at a Thai restaurant. The pop song overhead ended and within seconds a high-pitched drone dialed me in as a gravelly male voice shouted out: “Can you hear?” A guitar joined as the voice asked… “Are we clear? Cleared for lift off, takeoff…” And then entered the drums, an unshakable beat supporting the vibe of the vocalist. I had a flashback to a concert almost thirty years ago where I danced with wild abandon, high on the birth of Pearl Jam.
I sipped my Thai Iced Tea and continued to listen to the music overhead. The song shifted with a chorus which cut into my reverie: “Ah-ah-ah…invincible…when we love.” The baritone vocalist sang with lyrics that grabbed my soul: “Now there’s smoke on the horizon and the clouds are looking violent…” The singer was, lo and behold, Pearl Jam’s frontman – – Eddie Vedder. Of course. Few voices sound like his, few fire up like his.
Right away I checked out the song on my phone and learned a few things. This song was called, “INVINCIBLE”, and was the first on Vedder’s third studio solo album, EARTHLING. It was produced by Republic Records (Andrew Watt) and Seattle Surf. Release date? February 11, 2022, just before Valentine’s day. And here’s some crazy trivia, David Bowie’s 1997 album (also named EARTHLING) released just before Valentine’s day as well. I guess there’s something to be said about chocolate-shaped hearts, lovers, champagne, and music.
By Lyric Dude
My veggie spring rolls arrived, but I read on. The ensemble for INVINCIBLE is guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith – – both from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also Andrew Watt (the producer) plays bass, guitar, and keyboards. What can I say, I was besotted with this combination (consistent throughout the album), and came to the quick conclusion that INVINCIBLE may be “a best yet” song for Vedder. Furthermore, and undeniably true is this…the timing of it couldn’t be more ideal with a world dying for collective inspiration.
A waitress dropped off my Pad Thai, but I listened to the rest of the album instead. The next song, “BROTHER THE CLOUD”, invaded my bloodstream with its lyrics: “I had a brother…and now my brother is gone.” In this song, Vedder laments the loss of his brother with an emotional, yet compelling upbeat ballad. The break? “If I could wish, wish it away I would bleed out my knees and pray. If I could give all that I have to bring him back today…”
This moving song about death (where Smith on drums truly blows away), could easily be labeled the universal poem of our post pandemic times. This is Vedder’s tears and I related since a dear friend of mine recently passed away. Everything he sang, I could feel: “I can’t feign indifference, can’t look away. The years they go by, the hurt I still hide. If I look okay, it’s just the outside.”
Next up? “GOOD AND EVIL”. This took me back to the album TEN (specifically the song, ONCE), but with the aching pains of time and many bittersweet years gone by. The aggressive, fast-paced, angry rage of all the collaborators in this song let loose. After years of the pandemic and a world that’s turned upside down, Vedder channels the voices (and spirits) of the late Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell: “I wish you well, I wish you Hell, I wish you were bygone! But in your dreams, die in your dreams, so you have a wake-up!”
Yet even with vocals that verge on shouting, Vedder slips in a glimmer of hope when he breaks into higher notes: “And I wake up with forgiveness every day in my heart…” Forgiveness. That’s interesting. Do we earthlings forgive? Not Vedder for too long. After seconds of soft empathy, he dives right back into hard rage, and no matter what the root of his is, listening to him wail will be cathartic in this song about human duplicity. We love, we hate, we forgive, we give, we punish, and then repeat.
From Eddie Vedder YouTube Channel
By this point I hadn’t even touched my food, the music just took me over. So as I packed it all up, I kept on listening. “THE HAVES” played and I was swept away by Vedder’s low, soothing resonance. It’s a melodic and spiritual song as he breaks up his words with his notes: “We want what we need. We need what’s above. We find ourselves reaching for something above.” There’s a sad realization, a caving in (in a way) that we *have to* embrace something outside of ourselves. God perhaps?
It seemed the essence of this song continued in the short album finale, “ON MY WAY”. It’s a trance-like piece where the instrumentals are front and center, drifting us into a feeling of letting go, finding love, and giving over…to the unknown.
From Eddie Vedder YouTube Channel
EARTHLING has a number of songs on it with guest musicians like Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Ringo Starr, indicative of the type of musician Eddie Vedder is. He collaborates with the greats and they support him as he rides all the tumultuous and calm waves of his own inner life. And he does this with no apologies for his brashness, no explanations for his broken, perfectly imperfect sounds. It’s really ALL of this we crave from his music, and deep down, in our own lives. There’s a raw, no filter aspect to this album that brings to the surface the words and emotions that we ourselves have silenced (and covered with a mask) for too many days to count.
The album rating…from one to ten (ten being the best). I give it a TEN.
Tracks from Earthling:
1.) Invincible Vedder, Andrew Wotman, Josh Klinghoffer 4:46
2.) Power of Right Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer 3:33
3.) Long Way Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Chad Smith 4:45
4.) Brother the Cloud Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Smith 4:22
5.) Fallout Today Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Smith 3:20
6.) The Dark Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Smith 3:56
7.) The Haves Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer 5:07
8.) Good and Evil Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Smith 2:41
9.) Rose of Jericho Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Smith 2:25
10.) Try Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer, Smith 2:51
11.) Picture Vedder, Elton John, Wotman 3:59
12.) Mrs. Mills Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer 4:04
13.) On My Way Vedder, Wotman, Klinghoffer 2:08
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