If there’s one song on Yield that encapsulates the sweeping expanse of highway and landscape of the cover artwork, it’s “MFC”—no small feat for such a quick little song, although live it is frequently abetted by the complimentary “Untitled”, which shares one of Vedder’s most frequent themes, escape via the open road. “MFC” has remained one my very favorites since I first heard it, taking bits from all eras of Pearl Jam and packing them into a concise, explosive bit of garage pop.
As theorized in the entry for “The Color Red”, I believe that “MFC” was originally intended to be the opener for Pearl Jam’s fifth studio album, and that its lyrics having been printed first in the liner notes is a clue towards an earlier, alternate tracklisting. It’s not difficult to imagine “MFC” in the leadoff spot, the rhythmic picked-pattern of the opening chords (recalling “Rearviewmirror”, “Sad”, and “Corduroy”) rolling out sans drums for a few measures, before the rest of the band kicks in. The rock and roll band’s version of a pedal steel guitar, the e-bow, elongates a few select notes, further contributing to the wide open feel of the song. “MFC” is refreshing, even exhilarating, expertly capturing a sense of speed and momentum, even though the studio version is markedly slower than live renditions.
“MFC” started out even faster than the way Pearl Jam typically plays it. Working with some local musicians in Italy in late 1996, the song made its live debut as “Mini Fast Car”. Hearing clips of this version reveals that Ed’s voice remains relatively calm and controlled even when the song is getting bashed out like “Lukin”, another reason why Zen-like sentiments such as “There’s a lot to be said for nowhere” stick (which reminds strongly of similar lines in “Gone”). There’s turbulence in the song, with vague allusions to some sort of relationship breakdown, but the conclusion of “Fuck it / We’ll disappear” gives the song a certain relieved charm, not inconsolable.