No matter how long or varied a musician’s career, there are going to be little quirks and techniques that return again and again, due to a particular fascination with a melodic idea, rhythm, harmony, or stylistic fluorish. Weathering deteriorating or improving voices and instrumental ability, there are familiar themes and motifs, comfortable both to artist and listener. While his music has certainly evolved, Vedder obviously has several lyrical themes and musical ideas that have repeated with variations over the years. Whether or not that had anything to do with the decision to stick “Sad” (aka “Letter to the Dead”) on the sidelines is unknown, but the song’s strong similarities to “Corduroy” and other Vedder-penned tracks makes it instantly recognizable as such.

The spindly little guitar figure that announces “Sad” is unmistakably Vedder. A More Than Ten reader mentioned in a comment to another post that the singer studied guitar in Spain at one point, which I hadn’t heard but would appear to make sense. Without betraying a full-blown flamenco influence, there are hints of that style in “Sad”, enough to give it a slightly exotic quality apart from most of the band’s output. Ament described “Sad” as a pop song, acknowledging Vedder’s growing proficiency in writing terse, catchy tunes. But “Sad” is no “Undone”, “U”, or “Leatherman”. There’s a darkness in both the lyrics, which are indeed sad, and the minor-key based music that keep the song from both achieving the breezy playfulness of Vedder’s other pop experiments, and the majestic anthemic, nature of “Sad”‘s kindred.


~ by Michael on September 25, 2007.

9 Responses to “Sad”

  1. To me, Sad’s appearance on Lost Dogs was a fantastic treat and a heartbreaking disappointment at the same time. This song, let me be clear, is amazing. It’s my favorite B-side on that record by a long shot. As C-13 alluded to, this is a song that is immediately recognizable as an EV song. I love the intro and the chorus is just killer.

    The disappointment came from the realization that the inclusion of this tune on Binaural would have, in my opinion, immediately made it a much stronger record. Where would it have fit? I don’t really know. But I was sad, no pun intended, that a song of this caliber was left off the album, even though it was on that original 16-song tracklist that leaked well before the release date.

    Oh well. At least we can enjoy it on Lost Dogs.

  2. Long live Lost Dogs…

  3. C13, I am getting rid of my computer this weekend. I just wanted to say thank you for all your amazing reviews. You are honestly a very talented guy. I can barely write a two sentence comment about PJ’s music without straining my brain, and here you are just pouring out one amazing write-up after another with what seems like minimal effert. But I know that you have put a lot of hard work into this blog and it probably didn’t come as easy as it seemed. Cheers mate, I wish you all the best in your future. Thanks for everything.

    Everyone else, you guys rock too. I enjoyed reading your comments. I’ll be back someday to check up on things.

  4. BYM: Your contributions to this blog have been wonderful and much appreciated. Best of luck, and return soon.

  5. Long live Believe You Me.

  6. Thanks guys. Ok sorry to derail this one. Let’s get it back to ‘Sad’.

    I like the Ed riff a lot and his voice sounds good, but something doesn’t sit right with me to make it a classic. I can’t put my finger on it.

    They should of called it “Letter to the Dead” but I can see why they changed the name out of respect.

  7. BYM, It makes me sad that you’re leaving.

    “If just one wish….”

    I really love this song. That Moorish sounding riff is one of my favorite Pearl Jam riffs. I love the vocal melody, and the contrast of such delicate sentiments coupled to such a heavy guitar sound reinforces the ultimate sadness of this story.

  8. This song is bad ass. That is all.

  9. You know, the people in this song do not necessarily have to be lovers. A lot of the lyrics, (especially the first bridge) seem to allude to Darwin ans his daughter Anne.

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