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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 296
Mon, Nov 5, 2012

“Given To Fly”
Pearl Jam

1998

“♫ The love
he receives is
the love that is
saved/ and some
times is seen a
strange spot in
the sky/ a human
being that was
given to fly
♫”

What begins as an obvious homage to Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s “Going to California” lifts off into one of the most inspirational songs in Eddie Vedder’s penned Pearl Jam canon.

Originally written as an instrumental called “Faithfull” by guitarist Mike McCready, those chords soon birthed a more inspiring anthem that became “Given to Fly” as he explained to Cameron Crowe in Pearl Jam Twenty, when he said, ““Given To Fly” came out of a period when I was finally getting my life together after going through some dark stuff prior to that. Musically, it represents kind of an awakening for me, and it represents a period of renewal, a period of just kind of learning how to relive my life. I was more clearheaded, and I was coming up with these ideas that were kind of celebratory. “Given to Fly” musically was that statement. That’s why there’s all the peaks and valley in it. It starts off slow and then kind of builds.”

McCready is so right, you can feel the momentum of the “Given to Fly” as if you’re inside a lyrical airplane, on the runaway right before takeoff and with each verse you get closer to the air. An amazing feeling that’s almost impossible to recreate was brought to life by guitarist Mike McCready. All that was missing was Eddie Vedder’s lyrical touches that turned “Given to Fly” into an instant elevated Pearl Jam classic.

The best description of “Given to Fly” was shared by Eddie Vedder when he said, “[I imagined the song as] a 20-page cardboard (children’s) book with a line on each page and a picture to go with it. It’s a fable, that’s all. The music almost gives you this feeling of flight, and I really love singing the part at the end, which is all about rising above anybody’s comments about what you do and still giving your love away. You know? Not becoming bitter and reclusive, not condemning the whole world because of the actions of a few.”

More than a Zeppelin tribute, “Given to Fly” actually makes you literally feel uplifted every time you spin Pearl Jam’s 1998 anthem. Open the lyrical pages of Eddie Vedder’s childlike imagination to world where soaring is as commonplace as taking in a breath or reaching for your lyrical dream. Do not Yield; I urge you to take the leap inside the magical wonder that is Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly.”

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