Of the eight songs performed by Mookie Blaylock during their first show at Seattle’s Off Ramp Cafe in October of 1990, only one has been completely swept under the rug. Labeled “Girl” on early demo tapes but also referred to as “Just a Girl”, this song has enjoyed its secret life among the tape- and file-sharing Pearl Jam fan community. Originally thought to have only been played once, “Girl” is now reported to have been part of a four-song set on January 11, 1991 in Vancouver, a show that also featured two other Ten also-rans, “Breath” and “Alone”. “Girl” saw no soundtrack, b-side, or Lost Dogs face time, perhaps relegated forever to a flawed, but not terribly bad quality recording passed among friends.
Part of handful of early Pearl Jam songs about troubled youth (“Daughter”, “Why Go”), “Girl” is surprisingly well-put together to have never been heard after 17 years. The encore performance at the Off Ramp is passionate, though Vedder appears to lose his place in a few spots. Unlike “Brother”, whose story was finally told with the release of Lost Dogs, little is known about the decision to abandon “Girl”. It’s probably a similar story, with one or more of the band members simply not interested in playing it again. But Pearl Jam fans have a much harder time letting go. The abundance of material written and recorded in preparation for Ten could have resulted in countless different tracklists. It’s fun to speculate where “Girl” might have fit in, if at all, though ultimately it’s clear that Pearl Jam’s debut is exactly what it needed to be.