Push Me Pull Me

I admit I’ve been hard on Ed’s spoken word tracks, and though I’m not about to apologize, I will at least recognize that part of my distaste for them is due to the fact that spoken word of any form/kind tends to make me writhe in agony to hear. So it’s surprising even to me to note that I find “Push Me Pull Me” not only the band’s best spoken word track, but a pretty damn good Pearl Jam track in its own right. Lacking the type of self-seriousness that too often characterizes such pieces, “Push Me Pull Me” delivers lines and images that are more interesting, i.e. “Like a cloud dropping rain / I’m discarding all thought”. Even better, Ed’s playful performance keeps the tone light and self-effacing, abetted by goofy studio effects and double-tracking. On a record so distinctly focused and tight, “Push Me Pull Me” is deliriously jumbled and bewildering, from the opening snippet of “Happy When I’m Crying” to Ament’s warbling bassline to the assorted beeps, buzzes, and other sonic detritus. The band even performed the song live twice in 1998, not as a tag (which they did once). I’ve never heard those performances, but how they pushed or pulled it off, I’m most curious to know.

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~ by Michael on October 5, 2007.

4 Responses to “Push Me Pull Me”

  1. I never really liked spoken word in any piece of music…Until I listened to Slint. But Push Me, Pull Me is bad spoken word, at least I think so. And I also think that the most important part in spoken word is not the speaking at all, its the music and the themes have to be perfect.

  2. i’ve recently become a father, which has caused me to think back on all the ways my parents fucked me up…one of the most damaging things my dad did to me was force me to listen to a Leonard Nimoy album. I was only about 6!!!! OH, THE HUMANITY!!!! I still hear that voice in my darkest nightmares…THAT, my friends, is bad spoken word. Mercifully, my dad thought himself too much of an intellectual to buy a William Shatner album…but I’ve heard from others in my support group that as bad as exposure to Mr. Spock’s album can be..it pales in comparison to some of the serious mental cases that have resulted from exposing young, unaware minds to Capt. Kirk’s albums.
    So, in comparison to Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, Ed Vedder’s spoken word pieces aren’t too bad…and maybe you’re right presentense, it might be because the backing music is better…but still, after what I’ve been through, i swear I’ll never make my son listen to Push Me, Pull Me.

  3. It’s only through reading this blog that I’ve realized just how many spoken word PJ songs there are. I’m even more surprised that I enjoy all of them as much as I do. “Push Me Pull Me” is the best one, with both the best lyrics and the coolest backing track. “If there were no angels/Would there be no sin?” Superb.

    This is one of the few Yield songs that’s been lost over the years. All of them would do well to be remembered again.

  4. C13 – “I’ve never heard those performances, but how they pushed or pulled it off, I’m most curious to know.”

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