Sweet Lew

When I first heard about “Sweet Lew” prior to the release of Binaural, I didn’t make the connection with Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul Jabbar), even though Pearl Jam has a long history of connections with basketball. I just thought it was a strange title, and my interest was piqued. It was then piqued even further by the fact that the song didn’t show up on the album, even though the Ten Club was selling “Sweet Lew” stickers. What was this song? But there isn’t much that could have prepared me for what I ultimately heard on Lost Dogs, a two-minute Ament-sung/spoken/rapped homage to the boyhood hero who was something of a cold fish when the two met. There’s really not a whole lot to say about “Sweet Lew” except props to the band for going through with the whole thing, and then having the cojones to release it. It’s silly, bizarre, and Ament’s obvious affection and fandom for at least the public side of Lew Alcindor is cute to observe. The song has precious little replay value, but at the same time does sound quite a bit like the aural equivalent of basketball, with Ament’s slinky bass and Cameron’s drums echoing like a ball on the court.


~ by Michael on June 12, 2007.

9 Responses to “Sweet Lew”

  1. Worst. Song. Ever.

  2. C13, You are one polite dude.

    “The song has precious little replay value, but at the same time does sound quite a bit like the aural equivalent of basketball, with Ament’s slinky bass and Cameron’s drums echoing like a ball on the court.”

    I think that’s the nicest thing I’ve ever seen written about that song.

  3. 🙂 I guess my purpose w/ all of this is to take each song and hold it to its own standards. What exactly was the band attempting to do w/ “Sweet Lew”? I can only guess that it was an in-joke or a private indulgence, and I have to say that as far as those things go, if it amused Jeff and the band then it succeeded. Including it on Lost Dogs is another story. I don’t know what they were thinking when they made that decision. I’m trying my best not to indulge myself in that, although I have favorite and least favorite songs, not to make that my reasoning for calling them “good” or “bad” (although I’m sure I’ve done that and will again).

  4. I can surely appreciate your methods, C13. I like that you’re able to take each song on its end and try to find something of value in each composition. That said, I feel comfortable sticking to my previously-posted thoughts about this tune. :}

  5. I appreciate your previously-posted thoughts on the tune! 🙂

  6. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to bag on Sweet Lew. It wasn’t supposed to be a good song, so why critique it like one?

    It’s like picking on a handicapped kid.

    The song is interesting for what it is — a one-off joke that wasn’t at all meant to be good. And kudos for PJ for putting it on Lost Dogs, if for no other reason than to display their ability to laugh at themselves.

  7. Basketball is my favorite sport, so I like how the band have made references to the sport throughout their career. (Mookie Blaylock, Ten vinyl basketball picture disc, the Ten cover art, Black Red Yellow, Smile video, Sweet Lew)

  8. I think I may be one of the few people who actually enjoys this song! Love the bass and drums. The singing was a bit of an acquired taste though. =p

    I think after Pearl Jam’s repeated excellence in music they can get away with producing a deliberately ‘duff’ song (in many folks’ opinions).

  9. I’m with you Sammy, I enjoy this song. Was not an acquired taste at all, and the vocals were easy to listen to having been a former Primus fan, can’t get much worse than Claypool.

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