Save You

Even when I was sure that Riot Act was the best damned thing Pearl Jam had released to date (it wasn’t), I had reservations about “Save You”. The song is on my mind right now primarily due to contemplation about the effectiveness of swearing in rock and roll (see Brain of J). Swears are no better or worse than any other word in the language, but they do present their own special set of problems, mostly because people tend to think that they are better or worse. On one hand, you get stupid parental advisory stickers. On the other hand, you get songs like “Save You”, where the power of a single “fuck” is diluted after several thousand uses.

This is the primary hurdle that I cannot jump over when hearing this song on record, or on a bootleg. I’m not concerned about the subject matter–in fact I can’t even work myself up to care that much about it, because the sheer number of fuck me’s is distracting. “Fuck” has a lot of power and potential, which the person wielding it has got to know. Almost every Pearl Jam album has a song or two that drops the f-bomb, either as an emotional release, or to really drive the seriousness of a point. But “Save You” feels way too conscious of itself, trying too hard. I feel like the band has dealt with similar thematic elements and concerns in much more affecting ways. It did serve a particular purpose on Riot Act however, as being the one spiky punk-rock tune in the vein of “Hail Hail”, “Comatose”, “Spin the Black Circle”, “Brain of J” etc.


~ by Michael on May 14, 2007.

11 Responses to “Save You”

  1. Save You, to me, sounds just like Hail , Hail. But for some reason maybe the bridge Hail, Hail is better. I believe the song has to do with Jack Irons and his depression/ addiction, idk. Also Matt Cameron lost his headphones on the recording and played the last few seconds by looking at Jeff Ament’s fingers as he played.

  2. Ed’s use of the F-bomb does not bother me in this song. He is just driving home the narrator’s feeling of desperation towards helping/saving his alcoholic/drug addicted friend. It is the narrator’s only way of communicating to his ‘fucked-up’ friend at this point, who obviously has a pretty serious addiction. Nothing sweet or poetic here, just a friend pleading to a friend, “please help me to help you help yourself!!!”

  3. The keyboards are my favorite part of Save You.

  4. Some say that this song is about Mike McCready, some say about Jack Irons…who knows?

  5. I’m one of those people who think this song is WAY overrated. It pains me to hear this song being compared to Hail, Hail. (And I’m not trying to argue with someone’s opinion…just making an observation of my own). Even though it’s filled with the aforementioned f-bombs, Save You lacks the intensity needed to bring the song home for me. It sounds like Ed is phoning this one in. That all said, his screams at the end are great!

  6. This song is definately not about Jack Irons. Jack never had a drug or alcohol problem.., he has a bi-polar disorder which was the reason he left the band.

  7. I’m with you on this one No Coder. You added the missing link to my post, which is that it is strangely lacking in intensity. Anyone know if this song is played in the same key as “Hail Hail”? Because I’m always reminded of HH when I hear Save You as well, even though Hail Hail is one of my favorites, and Save You obviously isn’t!

  8. I simply love this song! The energy live is fantastic – and I do like the lyrics too. To me it´s about friendship – about unconditional love to your friend, who is down. “why are you hitting yourself – com on hit me instead”

  9. I love this song too. It´s one of my fave rockers, hands down. The riffs are tight and fast, and the lyrics are so intense. I prefer the live versions over the RA version, which is too produced for me.
    The climax in this song is so great too. PJ are very good at building up a climax in their rock songs as well.

  10. I wasn’t too fond of this song upon a first listen of Riot Act, either. The profanity *does* lose its effect. But then the power of Eddie’s closing vocal really hooked me. That and the multitude of live versions from 2003. Seeing Mike go nuts on the Showbox DVD may have been a turning point for me — just the joy playing that song brought him was infectious.

    Help yourseeeeeeeeeelf!

    By the way, I thought Riot Act was much better initially than further listening made quite clear. In my opinion, it’s really bogged down by some of the band’s worst LP material — the four songs near the end, Help, Help, Bushleaguer, 1/2 Full and Arc, might be their worst stretch. Get Right and Ghost are decent, but just one of those tracks would have sufficed. And Thumbing My Way and LBC don’t resonate with me like they do others.

    As mentioned by another poster, I can’t help feeling that Riot Act would have been better served with the additions of b-sides Down, Other Side and Undone, and the excision of just about anything except the three singles plus Can’t Keep and Green Disease.

  11. I also thought extremely highly of the album in the first few months, and then it went quite downhill. I also tend to agree w/ you about LBC, which we should be discussing quite soon!

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