I’m going to go out on a limb and say that “Pry, To” is the most baffling of the four experiment tracks on Vitalogy. “Stupidmop” is an exercise in noise and samples, “Bugs” a fun excuse to play a little thrift store accordion, “Aye Davanita” we’ve already covered. But “Pry, To”? What the hell is it? Here’s what we know:
1. Supposedly, if you play the song backward, you hear what sounds like “Pete Townshend, oh how you saved my life.” I’ve never tried this. Can’t vouch.
2. The song is barely a minute long, when you factor in the fades.
3. “Pry, To” has obviously never been played live.
That’s it. The rest is m-y-s-t-e-r-y, a mystery to me. But that doesn’t make it inconsequential. Pearl Jam, and Ed in particular, were dealing with some serious growing pains, learning how do deal with superstardom, expectations, stalkers, and boatloads of et cetera. On one had, you’ve got “Not For You”. Why not have “Pry, To” for balance? The fades suggest that this song was born from a much longer jam session that might never have been intended for the record. It’s been written how much of Vitalogy was left for Ed to finish and sequence–it’s possible that the inclusion of “Pry, To” was a surprise to everyone but him. It certainly wasn’t a commercial decision. But “Pry, To” serves the role that all of the Vitalogy curios ultimately do–to break up what would otherwise be the overwhelming intensity of the other ten tracks.