Nicole, Nicole, Nicole. How could I not know until today that “Alone” is about a woman named Nicole? To think that all this time, I thought it was just about a really hot shower.
Seriously though, “Alone” is as solid as a Pearl Jam outtake gets. Although the song is credited to all five members of the band (released in the era when this was standard), it sounds pretty clearly to me to be a Gossard composition (experts weigh in now?). Attempted for two albums it wasn’t quite meant for, the song finally found a home on the flipside to “Go”, as well as a Frankenstein’s monster version for Lost Dogs that combined a newly recorded Ed Vedder vocal and the instrumental track from Ten‘s rough demos. I first heard about the song when my father brought home Vs. for me on the day it came out. He said that one of his friends from work had gone to the midnight release and also picked up a second CD that had a song called “Alone” on it, but it would be a while before I’d be able to track the single down for myself.
The Go and Lost Dogs are more substantially different than I first thought when the latter was released, which cut out an entire half-verse right after the “heart off of Nicole /heart off of the coals” line, and I’m tempted to think the abbreviated version is preferable. The rawer, punchier performance of the demo works well with Vedder’s newly harmonized vocals, and the “seagull” lines aren’t so sorely missed. The song itself however, was missed for a decade between 1994 and 2004. It has returned with some regularity for those who can’t get enough of that good ole, brawny Ten-era rock.