Hold On

One of the biggest surprises on 2003’s b-sides/rarities compilation Lost Dogs, was “Hold On”, an outtake from the Vs. sessions that somehow eluded the reach of the treasure hunters who brought you such obscure Pearl Jam tunes as “Goat” and “(Just a) Girl”. Not to be confused with Tom Waits’s “Hold On”, which the band occasionally tagged onto “Daughter” during the 2000 tour, or the improv they performed on 4/11/94, the “Hold On’ from Lost Dogs is pure early-’90s era Pearl Jam.

Vedder’s notes from the album insert are terse regarding the song’s fate: “Almost made the Vs. record? Close but no sitar.” Was it really that close? I don’t think so. Vedder’s making a joke here besides the obvious sitar pun, although the band liked it enough to unearth it eventually. There was never any mention of the song in the press leading up to Vs., whereas songs like “Angel”, “Brother”, and “Whipping” all were speculated as potential candidates.

Why not then, and why ten years later? It might have something to do with the fact that the song sounds much more like it belonged on the reverb-drenched Ten than the tightly wound Vs. The music is credited to Stone Gossard, and sounds like it could have been drawn from the same Mamasan recordings as “Dollar Bill” and the rest, which would explain a lot. The band had also already struck a fine balance between berserk rockers like “Go” and “Blood” and mid-tempo/slow songs. “Hold On” would have upset the scales.

But now we have it in all its mysterious and divisive glory. Fans either salivate at the thought of it receiving live attention, or get queasy. I can’t imagine why they would ever play it, but I wouldn’t exactly mind if they did. The opening line is one of my favorites, “I was doom riding on top of a black horse,” but the rest of the song is a fairly standard break-up lament that the band has done better many, many times. Its true worth might lie in the fact that it stirs up the age-old question in every Pearl Jam fan’s heart: what other songs exist on tape somewhere in the vaults, that we’ve never heard a single word about?

***Thanks to BigWaveRider for pointing out that the 10C site posted a correction to the liner notes for Lost Dogs, indicating that “Hold On” was indeed recorded during the Ten sessions.  This post will now be revamped in the near future.


~ by Michael on May 1, 2007.

12 Responses to “Hold On”

  1. I love the harmonies during the chorus between Ed and Stone. I think it’s a good song but it didn’t deserve a spot on Ten or Vs. It’s perfect for Lost Dogs, but should be more to the begininng of the firsst disc, possibly after Alone.

  2. You’re right. Having it right before Ledbetter and after all the silliness of Gremmie et al, was an odd choice.

  3. I can’t wait for them to play it live. I was hoping so much to hear it in Hawaii last December. Hawaii ’78 isn’t a bad replacement though. More of the Lost Dog songs need to be played live like Strangest Tribe and Other Side. However, I very thankfull about getting Sad played live many times.

    Agree with presentense. I love the chorus. The interplay between the vocals and the guitars makes it one of my all time fav PJ songs.

  4. The song was from the Ten Sessions. It’s on the 10C site as a correction for the Lost Dog liner notes.

  5. Wow. Thanks Bigwaverider. I’ll go check that out.

  6. Yeah you’re right BigWave, Krusen is even credited for drums in the liner notes.

    It is refreshing to know it is from the Ten era, because it isn’t Ed at his best vocally and the music is more akin to Mother Love Bone than it is PJ. The mysterious Dave Krusen hits the skins pretty hard though!

    Maybe they re-recorded it during the Vs. sessions leading Ed to type ‘..almost made it on the Vs record. Close but no Sitar’ in the liner notes as C13 already stated.

  7. Underrated song from many PJ fans. Personally I like it a lot. I don’t know if it fits in Vs. Maybe it found its right place in the Dogs album

  8. If I’m not mistaken, like Alone on Lost Dogs, this track has new vocals Ed recorded in 2002-2003. I think the original may have actually only ever been an instrumenta, or not have had finished lyrics.

  9. I think you’re right about this Spencer. It certainly sounds like today’s Ed singing yesterday’s Pearl Jam song. Thanks for your comments on this and “Evacuation”! Can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts.

  10. Along with All Night and Sad, Hold On was the most pleasant out-of-nowhere find for me on Lost Dogs.

    Hard to believe it didn’t find its way onto a Ten or Vs. single, especially considering the band had practically run out of b-sides by the second Vs. single.

    Love the chromatic chorus and the closing chant.

  11. I never heard Dollar Bill, you dont mean Dollar Short (turned out to be Alive)? This is honestly one of my top 5 PJ songs. Definitely has a Love Bone tone, but it reminds me of Deep and Why Go also, in that 10 era. I am not a drummer, but the constant ride on the crash and Ed’s voice – you can just picture him closing his eyes and jerking his head back as he sings “End Like This!”

  12. You’re right. I believe I meant “Dollar Short”. Thanks 19Strikes for all your recent comments!

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