As I’m getting fairly close to rounding out the regular studio albums (and trying hard not to make it a Lost Dogs fest at the end), I’ve been starting to consider what’s left, and each song within the context of its whole. Ten is a fascinating record to look back at for many reasons. The album is sixteen years old. When it was released in 1991, albums from 1975 were sixteen years old. Because Ten more or less introduced me to rock music (at least rock music worth listening to), it’s hard to believe it’s that freaking old. And like Nevermind, Loveless, and a few others from the era, it’s been canonized and is widely considered untouchable. But the album does have its flaws. The band itself has admitted (well, at least Jeff, I think it was) that it’d be nice to remix the whole thing with less reverb, as the versions of “Once” and “Black” demonstrate on Rearviewmirror. But what stands out to me while considering “Deep” is how well the song has aged, so well in fact that to me, in 2007 at least, it’s one of the album’s best tracks.

Mythical allusions, fierce squalls of guitar, and a breathless performance by Vedder, “Deep” executes all of the signature strengths of early Pearl Jam masterfully. The song is almost frightening in its intensity as Vedder rattles off what appears to be three separate stories of nameless characters spiralling down and out, just as bizarrely twisting guitar riffs swirl around each other. It’s like a nest of hornets all stirred up and swarming, claustrophobic, exhausting the listener before the cool salvation of “Release”.  Fans were rightfully excited when the song reappeared on setlists in 2003, after a hiatus of seven and a half years, though it’s been shelved since for another four and counting.  Unlike other recent live rarities, it’s not exactly clear what the band’s aversion to “Deep” is all about, as it clearly whips the crowd up, filled with tension building pauses and explosive returns.  But there it is, on the outskirts of the repertoire, an underrated gem from the band’s turbulent youth.


~ by Michael on August 1, 2007.

7 Responses to “Deep”

  1. You made me feel old as dirt with this one, but still, it was one of your best write-ups imo.

  2. yeah, Ten is old and getting older. let’s not think about it. let’s think about rape instead…because i had never thought “animal” could be touching on that topic until i read that thread twenty minutes ago. But i always thought “Deep” to be about a rapist. that the three stanza’s were all about the same f’d up guy. Let’s change the subject…the early live versions are just incredible…all those early live Ten bootlegs are just pure porch deep once alive black garden release oceans of emotion. with an even flow, why go home, jeremy? Am we really 16 years older? only when i look in the mirror…not when i’m listening to the music.

  3. I’ve always thought that the three verses were about three different tortured people. I think of the third verse as being about a girl getting raped by someone she loves and trusts.

    As for getting older, aren’t we really just getting better?

  4. This is a great and wonderful idea. I actually just re-reviewed Binaural myself and I am going to link to this if it’s ok.

    If you still feel that radio is bland you should try my New music show called NEXT on Also click on my website at
    Thanks for the PJ love.

  5. what’s a “radio”?

  6. I’ve begun to wonder if this song is about drug addiction, or at least for ed, it’s come to be about drug addiction.

    In concert, he’s taken to singing, “he sinks the needle deep …” leading into the chorus.

    Just wondering is all.

    Earlier, I wondered if it was about growing up gay in a small town (not Littleton 🙂 ) or something like that. If not gay, this just different (like maybe the West Memphis 3, although I realize this song was written well before that incident).

    “on the edge of this no-nothing town … feeling quite superior the aged come”

    Maybe it’s about coming to grips with your different-ness. Or, not coming to grips with it. If not about drug abuse, the song does hint at suicide, with the protagonist seeming on the edge of a building or something.

  7. this is one of my favorite songs on ten (as opposed to the songs on ten that arent one of my favorites). i love the way it keeps building up to the “cant touch the bottom” part then winding down again, its the grunge formula at its best. the lyrics are very cool too, they seem to be comparing the lives of three random peopl who dont know each other. i dont know what the “in too deep” part means though, if anyone has any ideas besides drug addiction thatd be really cool…

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