All Those Yesterdays
What, exactly, makes a song Beatlesesque? Is it a defineable quality beyond “you know it when you hear it?” And what Beatles period/song/member are people referring to when they describe another piece of music as being reminiscent of the Fab Four? There are a number of Stone Gossard-penned Pearl Jam tracks that beg the comparison, from “Sunburn” (though it’s still up in the air whether this is Bayleaf or not) to “Parachutes”, and especially “All Those Yesterdays”. The Yield closer gains the most allusions to John, Paul, George, & Ringo, but not much in depth examination as to why. I’m not a Beatles scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a few ideas open to debate.
1. Jeff Ament’s bass sounds like a horn. Whether on purpose through technique or effects, Ament’s bass squawks and honks like a tuba or trumpet or what have you, and for that reason, that type of simulated Salvation Army brass band line recalls Sgt. Pepper’s, Yellow Submarine, etc.
2. The used of doubled-vocals and harmony tracks is similar to those employed by Beatles. Perhaps the specific harmonic intervals are approximate to certain Beatles songs we’ve all heard, which in turn are products of not only rock and roll, but British parlor tunes and vaudeville.
3. Gossard’s lyrics. While not as specific as “A Day in the Life” or “Eleanor Rigby”, do dig into how average people get through (or don’t get through) the mundaneness of existence, while memories and experience pile up like “all those paper plates”.
Of course, whatever Beatlesy business is going on with “All Those Yesterdays”, that’s not all that’s going on. The song eventually builds to a chugging rocker with the decidedly Vedderesque lyrics about escape, and it caps Yield appropriately in both its lean melodic sense and diamond hard approach. Extremely rare live, it seems like a tough song to place within a set. It closes the album, but only if you don’t count “Hummus”. At the end of a show, or an encore, “All Those Yesterdays” might sound too much like a new beginning. Played first, it might sound too much like an ending. Perhaps better that the song pops up from time to time, drifting off and doing all the things such songs do.