Bracing myself for the inevitable backlash, our tour of the spoken-word Pearl Jam songbag continues with “I’m Open”. I was lucky to be part of the audience that witnessed the song’s first full performance in Hartford, Connecticut, and I realized a couple things listening to Vedder’s solo rendition that night. First, I was excited primarily for my good fortune rather than the actual song. Second, “I’m Open” works much better without the storytelling. Actually, I’d always been sure that the lines “I’m open / Come on in” spoke volumes more than Vedder’s tale of a man lying in a bed in a room with no door. Minus those bits, the song is an impressive and effective collaboration between Vedder and Irons, reminiscent of “Master/Slave”, “Dead Man”, Vedder’s duets with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and looking forward to “Arc”. It also serves an important function, bridging “Mankind” and “Around the Bend”. Without it, the effect of going from Stone’s punk-pop to Vedder’s lullaby would be too jarring. “I’m Open” quiets the flow of the album even below “Around the Bend”, so that the gentleness of the latter sounds brighter than it otherwise would. The opening bass rumble of “I’m Open” absorbs everything which precedes it. Unfortunately, for me at least, the satisfying calm of the song is marred by spoken word that breaks my concentration away from the beautifully executed atmospherics and onto a story too vague and self-conscious to be of much interest.