Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 325
Thurs, Dec 6, 2012
“♫ So far
away and yet
you feel so
close/ and I’m
not gonna question
it any other
way/ there must
be an open door/
For you…to come
I’ve been contemplating the events that transpired yesterday, my wife and I in the front seat of our car while he sat there like a wrinkled teenager and we felt like the parents. I remember looking into his eyes from the rearview; I wondered while listening to Pearl Jam’s “Come Back,” when did her old man change in a blink and instantly become a stranger? I used to think “Come Back” was about longing for a lover to come back and rekindle the lustful magic but in reality, this unheralded Pearl Jam treasure is much more personal than a lover come back to me story. What happens when a family member, father figure begins drifting mentally whether it is from Alzheimer’s, dementia or just old age? How do you react when the person you knew and love is vanishing slowly before your very eyes?
When Vedder sings, “♫Sometimes you’re there and you’re talking back to me/ come the morning I can swear that you’re next to me♫.” At first sounds like a The Sixth Sense moment when a lover is talking to his spirit ghost. But in essence, I hear “Come Back” as the ghost being a loved one or parent who’s lost in the thoughts of their own mind. It reminds me of something was said during one of The Doors many interventions for Jim Morrison, “I see you in front of me but still I miss him.” But there’s no chemical dependency here, it’s just someone who’s drifting along to the voices in their head.
I will never be able to hear “Come Back” without thinking of confused her old man looked. But if my meaning of this Pearl Jam gem changed, what is “Come Back” about anyhow? A break-up? A death? That’s the genius in Eddie Vedder’s lyrics; We are the ones who bring his songs to life by filling in the spaces with our own experiences. Vedder hears his own albums like a writer reads his own novels, as Eddie explained to Cameron Crowe in Pearl Jam Twenty, “Through telling stories you may be able to transmit an emotion or feeling or an observation of modern reality is a right that I forgotten that I had.” The reason “Come Back” still resonates is because it’s the soulful Stax sounding antidote to the politico themed anthems on 2006’s Avocado LP. Far from being political, “Come Back” is a personal triumph, a more mature take on Ten’s “Black.”
Whether you are singing “Come Back” for a lover’s flame that has expired, a death or maybe the loss is a more personal one in the form of the modern day agony of the longest goodbye. “Come Back” is a triumph lyrically and musically proving that Seattle’s favorite songs Pearl Jam are more than just grunge rockers, they can crank down the volume while turning up the emotions. You can taste the ache in Eddie Vedder’s vocal; his voice is what makes us want to “Come Back” and revisit, this Pearl Jam classic, again and again.