There’s more to “Glorified G” than one of rock’s most misheard lyrics (“45 versions of a pelican” anyone?), namely the issue of gun control. Not one of mainstream rock’s hottest political topics, Pearl Jam nonetheless explored the issue of gun ownership on their second album amidst a host of other issues. While any topic as controversial as gun rights is difficult to reduce into a 3.5 minute song, the band did a fairly good job of keeping the song open-ended despite its mocking tone, mostly because of the juxtaposition of playful, funk-rock verses and a dangerous sounding bridge.
Much of the lyrics came directly from a dialogue between then-drummer Dave Abbruzzese and other bandmates about the guns he had just purchased. “Got a gun / Fact I got two” comes almost verbatim from Dave. But the part that interests me most about the lyrics is the next line: “That’s okay man / ‘Cause I love God.” Although this idea is only hinted at on “Glorified G”, it would later inform songs like “Marker in the Sand” and others. The belief that religion dictates a moral code that is absolute for others, but hazy for the individual as long as they at least pay lip service to their faith, is one that is universal, but pretty damn prominent in some Christian sects in America today, particularly those that tend to overlap with extreme gun advocates.
The issue of gun rights is not something I feel I have a solid position on either way, as opposed to environmental concerns for example, and “Glorified G” doesn’t sway me in either direction. But part of the reason why I appreciate and enjoy the song is that it doesn’t try especially hard to sway me. It puts forth a point of view with a mixture of sarcasm and poking fun, with a few serious moments that add some gravity. The second bridge of “Like some / I can feel your heart in your neck” is appropriately unnerving, but also beautifully and powerfully performed. By the end of the song I’m left with the feeling that guns aren’t just a talking point for either side on an ongoing debate, but something I need to constantly think about and challenge myself on. While the relationship between Vedder and Abbruzzese inevitably dissolved allegedly because of similar idealogical differences (repeat five times fast), kudos to both of them for sharing this song together on record, and particularly to Dave for having the humility to allow himself to be so teased.