Just got all teary watching Pearl Jam Twenty, Cameron Crowe’s documentary about Pearl Jam. Twenty because they’ve been a band for twenty years, a fact I can’t actually wrap my head around even if I understand it intellectually.
I’ve noticed this thing where I grow apart from people, and time goes by and I age, but in my head I expect them to be exactly the way they were when I last saw them. Of course it doesn’t work that way. It’s shocking when we meet up again, to discover that the distance between us is not just my distance, but theirs too.
I miss the time when I could be so profoundly moved by art. I spend so much of my time in fandom, but for me the thing I’m fannish about is ultimately entertainment. It’s something I enjoy very much, and the human connections I form with other fans can be profound, but the fannish work itself is distant in a way. It exists for my pleasure, and I can leave it behind if it stops pleasing me.
Music is something else. I can’t ever leave it behind.
There was a time when music defined me. It’s imprinted into my foundation of self. This film captures so much of that era… I can’t believe it was twenty years ago.
The film is very well made; the juxtaposition of “Alive” from their second show ever and “Alive” today is inspired, as is the focus on the concert experience, the way that the band and the audience become one creative organism together.
It was good to see so many familiar faces. Andy Wood, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, that little glimpse of Layne, Jerry, Sean, and Mike… and of course the Pearl Jam guys. I used to have Cameron Crowe’s entire 1993 Rolling Stone interview taped to my bedroom wall. My entire room was wallpapered in clippings about these bands. I wanted to be Chris Cornell when I grew up.
It was unusual for a musical movement. They cared so much about integrity and ethics. They were so emotionally honest, so revealing and raw; in retrospect, so naive, so young. It was so easy to relate, to believe my struggles were similar, and to love them so much.
I discovered this music after moving around and changing schools five times in five years. I was ugly, too tall, too smart, geeky and weird in every possible way. I had no friends and no mentors. I was so lonely and music was the only thing that filled that gaping empty hole inside, that made life worth living. I looked up to those guys so much; they were my older siblings, my cool uncles. My initial foray into feminism was because of Eddie Vedder and gay rights because of Kurt Cobain. I wore band t-shirts and ripped jeans for two years. I remember wishing that Eddie Vedder was my father.
It makes me miss Danielle. She was the first real friend I ever had, and music was one of the primary ways we connected. Twenty years. So weird seeing how much the Pearl Jam guys have changed, and I’ve changed, and knowing she’s changed. Things that once meant so much, now so far apart.