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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 260
Saturday, Sept 29, 2012

“Black”
Pearl Jam

1991

I remember the moment, watching M-TV Unplugged, when Eddie Vedder made the connection with teenage America. “Alive” and “Even Flow” might have made the band superstars but with “Black” Pearl Jam and Vedder became lyrical legends who had the heart aching pulse of our nations displaced generation. Specifically that moment happened, during the coda of “Black” from Ten, when Eddie adlibbed “♫ We belong together! ♫” The angst, the ache and the emptiness was something anyone under thirty could feel when Eddie Vedder sang “Black.” In that moment, “Black” was no longer Pearl Jam’s; this teary anthem of lost love became our song.

“♫ I know that
someday you’ll
have a beautiful
life/ I know
you’ll be a
star/ in somebody
else’s sky
♫”

According to Pearl Jam Twenty, the book written by the band and film director Cameron Crowe, “Black” began as guitarist Stone Gossard demo called “E ballad.” Crowe wrote, “[“Black”] struck a chord with teenagers experiencing their first brushes with love, breaking up, and adult emotions.” I was a late bloomer when it came to romance and “Black” was my soundtrack for my twenties and thirties, when I lost in deep lust, searching for love—not just for me, Vedder and Pearl Jam sang for all of us. Eddie Vedder described “Black” as “It’s a song about first relationships and letting go. It’s very rare for a relationship to withstand the Earth’s gravitational pull and where it’s going to take people and how they’re going to grow. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really have a true love unless it was a love unrequited. It’s a harsh one, because then your truest one is the one you can’t have forever.

It hasn’t always been love songs and “Black” is a reflection when happy endings turned sour, leaving us, lost and alone. Unfortunately, some of us have lost without hearts, painfully, before finally tasting true love. It’s not until your heart has broken that you will appreciate one who smiles to heal it. And that’s what “Black” is here for us to remember our first heartbreak is the beginning of the journey that leads to fulfillment of love. Eddie Vedder wrote “Black” about a lost first love. We’ve all had them. This sentiment is what makes “Black” eternal. “Black” is the song that made Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam legends with that immortal lyric, you know the one, that for years kept me from wanting to listen and relive it all with “Black.” As soon as Eddie croons “♫ I know someday ♫” all the way to “♫ Why can’t it be mine? ♫” when Vedder sings, it all comes like some moving Polaroid coming to light and then flashing back, fading out into “Black.” Sing this Ten classic that always reminds us by honoring the ones we’ve left and the others who have left us behind.

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