Faithfull

If there’s one word to describe guitarist Mike McCready’s song contributions to Pearl Jam, it has to be “majestic”. Even the least majestic of Mike’s compositions still retains an element of larger-than-life grandeur. Here is a true believer in the epic, thunder-of-the-gods power of rock and roll–which is why fellow believers gloried in the sweeping vistas and wide-open spaces of Yield, thanks in no small part to three McCready tunes. “Faithfull” certainly deserves the descriptor, a broad and bold mountain of a song that can be as exhilarating to listen to as it must be to play.

Much of the charm of “Faithfull” lies in how it builds and releases tension. The song starts out with sparse instrumentation: cymbals and sticks, Ament’s distinctive bass, and a lone guitar playing a unfamiliar chord progression. Vedder sings the song mostly in his upper register, and the combination of voice and guitar makes the song feels as if it’s leaning out over some high ledge, dangling. Of course, then it drops. The song changes gears, guitars pile up, and the song sounds positively huge. “And echoes”, Vedder sings, savoring that apt and powerful last vowel as the reverb sweeps it away, “that nobody hears / it goes / it goes / it goes like this.” It’s interesting that Vedder sings, “I’m through with screaming” as it’s clear from other songs on Yield that he’s not. But on “Faithfull” his voice, though loud and booming”, is not a scream–not a howl of pain or tirade against injustice, but the clear and powerful bellow of someone who has found a reason, their own reason. This is what a Mike McCready song can do to you.

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~ by Michael on May 9, 2007.

7 Responses to “Faithfull”

  1. I know that Brain of J is the opener that kick starts Yield, but for me, Faithfull is the song that opens the whole album up. You knew from that song on, anything was possible. I loved that they put it at #2. I think there could be so much written about the songs that Pearl Jam has selected to put at the 2 Spot (Hail Hail being my favorite)…but I digress. Faithfull is a beautiful, expansive song that I never tire of. Nice write up, C13!

  2. Thanks! I’ll write more about this when I tackle Red Dot, but try listening to Yield in the order the songs lyrics appear in the CD booklet.

  3. To me, the studio recording of FAITHFULL has an unfinished quality, both the music and the lyrics. The sparseness of the ringing guitars, the obscure quality of the repeated phrases in the lyrics. Usually Eddie only plays guitar on songs that he writes the music to, but I think that this song would have had a fuller sound if they had added Eddie’s guitar.

    That said, the existential journey from putting his faith in God to putting his faith in the love of his life is an epic one. I find it very moving.

    I like the recent live versions better than the studio version. Eddie’s voice sounds fuller in the higher register than on the recording, the guitars are more substantial without losing the ethereal quality, and Matt Cameron provides greater forward momentum.

  4. I think the “I’m through with screaming” line is more directed towards religious apathy than vocal screaming. Lets not forget that this song is titled ‘Faithfull’ and not ‘Faithful’. This song can evoke emotions of either a relationship or a religious fervor, but I interpret the message as the world is full of blind faith. I strongly connect this song to Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

    Nice point about McCready’s song writing.

  5. The song is arranged really weird, isn’t it like verse- chrous- chorus- bridge- chorus- verse. Yeah. The guitar part is awesome, just like the rest of Yield, but becuase it’s so open to start with that relistens are dull.

  6. The guitar stuff on this one is quite good indeed. I also like Jack’s drumming during the beginning of the song

  7. Yeah the structure is strange, but I like the way it comes back to the beginning which really sums up the song.
    Great review and I totally agree!

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