Pry, To

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.


~ by Michael on May 22, 2007.

9 Responses to “Pry, To”

  1. I hate to be so simplistic, but I hate, hate, hate how these songs affect Vitalogy. I can understand album integrity and how these songs may possibly fit in the context of the whole record, and I enjoy the somewhat interesting soundscapes…Maybe they were put in as a buffer….Something to keep casual fans from REALLY latching onto Vitalogy. I don’t know. But I think without these four tracks, Vitalogy is the band’s best record. With them…it drops a few notches. Just my thoughts…

  2. The answer of why they recorded this is choice #1. Spin the Black Circle, backwards. “Oh Pete Townshend, how you saved my life”. There is a recording of this out there which is unmistakable. As we all know Ed Vedder is a die hard Who fan. He is a die hard Townshend fan. So yeah, they experimented in the studio with getting hidden messages in reverse. They aren’t the first band to do so.

    So I think this song is cool, it leads perfectly into Corduroy, and plus it’s a cool tyep of nod to Ed’s hero. The only “filler” track I could see hurting the flow of Vitalogy is Bugs because it’s jarringly different than anything they ever did. “Pry, To” is so short I don’t see how anyone can complain about it’s inclusion on the album. Even without the knowledge of a hidden reversed message, “Pry, To” still acts as an intermission between Side A and Side B of the record.

  3. I can definitely understand how absolutely monstrous Vitalogy would be without the infamous four. Not a single bad track among the other ten, and many of them among the band’s all time best. But I go back and forth about whether or not the goofy tracks wreck the party. Right now I’m of the mind that they provide a little levity and balance–and how they disturb the listener is an integral part of the listening experience.

  4. I may be the only person on the planet who loves them all. I don’t listen to them separately (except AYE, DAVANITA), but, to me, they are magic on Vitalogy. You used the word “levity,” and that is a good one. Despite his reputation, Eddie Vedder is not a man without a sense of humor, and these tracks go a long way toward showing that side of him.

    The problem with these tracks is that they don’t work well if you are using Vitalogy as background music at a party, not like Maroon 5’s new record. They are at their best when you’re having a quiet listen, maybe late at night, a very stormy night, with a beer…then STUPID MOP comes on.

  5. I think that is exactly why, they put these odd filler songs on the record, to keep people away for one and to diversify from the mass culture so that they wouldn’t become “Rock Gods” or icons. Obviously, it really didn’t work as they became probably the biggest band in the world at that time (’95).

    vitalogy is defiently their most “artsie” album and these little songs (except Stupid mop) show it.

  6. Although they are not sth special, these fillers create a strange “atmosphere” in Vitalogy

  7. The author of this site, has good taste in Pearl Jam. Respect!
    Pry, To kind of reminds me of Pink Floyd’s ‘Is There Anybody Out There’. It’s an awesome minute of funk.

  8. I’ve spun this one backwards on vinyl, and you can distinctly hear “Oh Pete Townsend you save my life.” Not as cool as “Turn Me on Dead Man” from the Beatles “Revolution 9,” but oool nonetheless

  9. P r i v a c y

    Privacy has prices in names

    Seems less like you’re right about this stuff being about growing pains and the lack of p r i v a c y.

    Perhaps privacy has prices that rises with fame?

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