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Given To Cry

March 31, 2010

So, in between my periodic bouts of proclaiming them the bestest band everest, and being unable to stomach listening to another second of their music, and buying fanclub tickets to their upcoming Irish gig, I have come to the following realisation about Pearl Jam: “Given To Fly” is the perfect Pearl Jam song. It is possibly the perfect song, full-stop. But it is utterly, bowel-scrapingly imperfect.

Imagine for a moment that in The Empire Strikes Back, just as Darth Vader is doing the big reveal, there is an inexplicable image of a bloodshot eyeball superimposed over the action. Imagine if during Marlon Brando’s “I coulda been a contender” speech, the driver had suddenly butted in with a strange stand-up comedy routine. Imagine if the Mona Lisa had a splodge of grey paint where her nose should be. Or Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech with an extended jazz sax solo 30 seconds in.

That is the effect of the errant whistle.

Listen to it, right there at 2:46, soiling it for everyone forever and ever and ever. It’s a fraction of a second long, it’s barely audible, and it mocks me with its nonchalant insouciance every time I listen to the song. And not just the studio version either – everytime I listen to a Pearl Jam bootleg, and hear that tumbling riff, I spend the entire first three minutes with my fists clenched, waiting for the little disgusting chirp to rear its ugly head and ruin the song all over again.

I don’t even know what it is! Is it someone in the band whistling a solitary, discordant note into an unseen microphone? Is it Brendan O’Brien being a cretin? Feedback? A small bird trapped in Mike McCready’s amp? Was Stone’s nasal passage incredibly blocked and wheezy? Perhaps I’ll never know.

Maybe I’m a little obsessive compulsive about this. Maybe just obsessed. But you don’t know what it’s like. To have a beloved song so thoroughly besmirched by some poxy nanosecond of white noise. A blip. An anomaly. Forever lodged in my brain like a tiny, nigh-invisible shard of glass.

I hope this has ruined “Given To Fly” for you too. This pain must be shared. Whimper.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. coyotetrax permalink
    March 31, 2010 11:35 pm

    No, not at all.

    I’m going to give you the number of my psychiatrist.

  2. Emmi permalink
    March 31, 2010 11:50 pm

    Damn you Alan Byrne! I’d never paid attention to that before. You better wish I won’t become obsessed about it, like you.

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