Pearl Jam's "Jeremy": Why This Song Sucks
[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]
Song: Pearl Jam's "Jeremy"
History: Pearl Jam was a band that people liked a whole lot in the early '90s but then tried to pretend otherwise when Kurt Cobain killed himself* and Eddie Vedder didn't. "Jeremy" was the third single from Ten, their debut album.
*This is ironic because "Jeremy," regarded as one of PJ's best-ever songs, is about how a kid who killed himself made the wrong** decision.
**Suicide is extra weak, yo. Eddie Vedder had that part right. He was wrong about basically everything else though. I mean, are you even looking at his hair in the video?
Historical aside: It took Pearl Jam fourteen years to make a video after they made the one for "Jeremy." I'm almost certain it had something to do with Vedder spending a significant portion of his time on camera for "Jeremy" trying to appear insane.
Atmospherics: Bluesy, predictable rifts; taut snares; Vedder's grumble-grumble growls.
"Oh, wait a sec. You mean if I kill myself then I'll be dead? Well fuck me. Suicide is bad. I had no idea. I guess I'd better not do it then. Thanks, Pearl Jam."
You know who said that? Nobody. BECAUSE EVERYONE KNEW THAT ALREADY.
You can argue that this song is visceral, sure; that seems reasonable enough. But "Jeremy" as scientifically valid? Nope. Its whole premise is something people already knew. It probably only took one guy killing himself before people were like, "Whoops. He probably shouldn't have done that."
I mean, sorry, Eddie, but it's like, do you know who the second person was to discover radium? Of course you don't. Because Marie Curie rocked the balls out of that discovery first. And you don't get shit in science for discovering something that's already been discovered, except maybe a dictionary so you can look up the definition of "discovery."
Plus, also troubling: the main character might've unraveled the whole thing anyway. The lyrics (and video and everyone on the planet) imply that Jeremy was the victim of bullying and an unstable home life, and that that's probably what drove him to kill himself. And that's a pretty terrible thing. The song talks about his dad not paying attention to him and his mom not being interested in him and his schoolmates picking at him, so on and so on.
But here's the first thing Vedder says about him, which gets glossed over:
"At home, drawing pictures of mountain tops with him on top, lemon yellow sun, arms raised in a V, dead lay in pools of maroon below."
Mountains? The sun? Making the letter V with his arms? Here's what that picture might look like:
That's hella weak, son. Maybe all of his problems spiral back to him just being a bad artist? I mean, this ain't a 5-year-old we're talking about. He's gotta step his picture game up. Check these out. I made these while listening to Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" on replay.