Why Go

By his own admission, Ed Vedder wasn’t terribly conscious of melody during Pearl Jam’s first few years (a fact that doesn’t negate the existence of melodies in the Ten era, though perhaps they were serendipitous). But the man certainly had instincts, a fact by which I’m particularly struck listening to “Why Go”. That song has never been one of my favorites; even back in the day, it bridged the gap between “Alive” and “Black”, my ears never really focusing in on it for its own sake. With the recent resuscitation of “Why Go” on the band’s recent tour however, I’ve come to find it really, really exciting.


Ed’s singing on “Why Go” doesn’t stand out for its melodic trajectory, a beautiful or unique string of notes playing with or counterpoint to the bass or guitar. Instead it singles out particular notes, and lurches around or near those notes for small stretches. But what’s remarkable about the performance is how Ed drops and lifts his voice between ranges. “She! seems to be stronger”, for example, or “Maybe someday / Another child”; those shifts may be subtle, but they help build tension and maintain interest in verses that are otherwise musically static. Ament’s music, built around a 12-string bass, sound as huge and expansive as all of the Northwest on Ten, one of the few moments on that record where I now appreciate Rick Parashar’s reverb-drenched production for something more than nostalgia.


~ by Michael on September 9, 2007.

8 Responses to “Why Go”

  1. Hearing songs live and hearing them on records really are different experiences This is one that is really fun live, but for me it’s one of those songs that makes Ten feel like a weaker and weaker album. I don’t understand it quite because I still like a lot of the songs, and I love hearing ALIVE and EVEN FLOW live, but between the production and the over-the-top way that Eddie sings the songs, the album itself is hard for me to listen to. I’m just plain getting too old.

  2. not a lot of time to write…just going to blast away…nostaligically…and what i want to say is that i think “why go” meant more to me than most of the other songs on Ten…i remember hearing Ten for the first time…i had heard evenflow on the radio, and probably alive, but the first time hearing it…getting stoned in the back seat of someones car behind the Keg Lounge in Manitou Springs on a snowy night in November ’92…the song that really stuck with me was “why go”…that opening beat…Later, listening closer, my god…I was working, actually full-time voluteering, at a residential center for abused kids. much of my job involved wrestling freaked-out kids into a submission hold until they calmed down, then bringing them to the “quiet room”, where they would have to sit in a corner for a certain amount of time before they could come out. Diagnosed by stupid fucks. It’s now, of course, long gone history…the themes that Ten addressed so directly, so bravely and honestly… and how the songs touched so many emotions and so many people. Not so sure if Pearl Jam’s music touches people like that anymore…album’s like Ten are so rare. But, for me, anyway, no song on Ten was more alive, direct, new and true than “why go”…although i like “jeremy” more.

  3. ‘Ten’ holds up pretty well for being 16+ years old. Most CD’s I get sick of after 2 months.

  4. I will admit, I’m not sure I know exactly what melody is. It just seems tough to define, for me.

    C13 wrote “a beautiful or unique string of notes playing with or counterpoint to the bass or guitar.” I think you were describing melody with that sentence. What PJ song is a good example of a melodic song? Thanks.

  5. Good is fairly subjective, but I can say there are songs where it’s more obvious that Ed was conscious of melody as he was writing them. “Can’t Keep” is fairly simple, but the melody sounds very purposeful to me, for example.

  6. This, to me, is tied with Even Flow for the top spot on the Ten album. I know that Jeremy may have been more circumstantial and had a genuinely powerful message, Black had amazingly vivid imagery and Alive was a true legendary song, but the powerful punch of this song just makes me want to go out and beat someone up, or drive far too fast. It’s a song that, if you’ll pardon the pun, makes you feel alive.

  7. this and “deep” are the songs i think of when i hear “ten”, because its just the epitome of that dark, echoing sound that goes on throughout the whole album. its also the song that really got me into “ten”, when i was first listening to pearl jam i loved “even flow” and “once” but couldnt get into anything else. something about eddies voice really annoyed me, which i dont understand at all now because hes such an awesome singer. but i had “why go”, i think along with the rest of the album, on my ipod for some reason when i went down to florida last year, and i listened to it on repeat one night while going to sleep, and something about this one song combined with the atmosphere of the place we were staying was so scary and cool to me that it made me love the rest of the album as well.

  8. The drum pattern on this song always amazed me and for me it is so much Pearl Jam in those drums on this track… Does anyone know if Dave Krusen borrowed the idéa for the drums on this song from somewhere else or if it is his own thing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: