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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 335
Sun, Dec 16, 2012

“Nothing As It Seems”
Pearl Jam

2000

“♫ And
all these words
alone/ is
nothing
like your
poem
♫”

I feel for the members of Pearl Jam. No matter who else in the band writes the track, because Vedder sings, someone will always think its Eddie’s song. Unless you have the liner notes or know a highly dedicated Ten Club supporter, not many fans would realize that bassist Jeff Ament penned this lovely decadent number from 2000’s Binaural called “Nothing As It Seems.” “Nothing As It Seems” made it on Pearl Jam’s 2004 Rearviewmirror: Greatest Hits collection because Jeff Ament’s song is as worthy as it is memorable. “Nothing” has sinister overtones thanks to guitarist Mike McCready’s guitar solo sounding like a planet exploding colors and confused drones, so brilliant, as Ament explained to Cameron Crowe in Pearl Jam Twenty, when he said, “The idea that at the beginning it was going to have a real heavy Pink Floyd vibe. So I went to Mike McCready and said, ‘I need you to make this song happen. It isn’t going to be good enough unless you come up with something that’s just unreal.”

And that’s what McCready did with his incendiary guitar licks which Mike described to Crowe as “that’s my realization of Jeff writing really dark songs.” If you really listen, McCready is right; “Nothing As It Seems” is a very beautifully haunted song. Mirror some of the darkest events that have recently occurred in the heartland of America, Ament talked about the inspiration of “Nothing As It Seems” when he said, “It’s a little bit reflecting on where I came from, I grew up in really rural area in Northern Montana, and [“Nothing As It Seems” is] looking back at my childhood as being a fairly utopian situation where I had the freedom to ride my bike around town when I was five years old, and my parents didn’t have to worry about anybody taking me and killing me or whatever.”

In the last couple of years…there have been some things that have kind of allowed some darker things to come to the surface of my childhood, seeing things that I had kind of selectively forgotten for my own mental health or whatever. I had just seen Affliction and I had just read Nine Below Zero by this guy, Kevin Canty, all very kind of rural things that unearthed a lot of stuff. [“Nothing As It Seems”] is just kind of what came out. I’m just now starting to actually really analyze what I was talking about…because I still don’t really have a grip on that.”

Jeff wrote one of the best Pearl Jam songs, you believe it and hear the way Vedder, McCready, Gossard and Cameron contribute to the final glimpse inside Ament’s world of restrained frustration. Ament talked about the emotions of sharing his song to his member/brothers of Pearl Jam when he said, “It’s pretty cool to see a little song that I wrote being played by everyone. I mean, I can almost kind of stand back and just watch this great band play a song…and take it to a completely different level. Mike and Ed [Vedder], they have that ability where they can really raise the level of anything that they play.”

And boy did they play it. They turned Jeff’s acoustic demo into a full fledged journey of the restless spirit that is “Nothing As It Seems;” the same song that Ament once described as “a dark and heavy tale.” I’ve been spinning “Nothing As It Seems” over and over again, while watching some of the footage of the tragic events in Connecticut yesterday. Listening to Jeff’s song it seems to have an underlining tone of bitterness from some confused soul trying to find a place, some peace and comfort to call his home. Maybe Jeff Ament was on to something when he sang, “♫It’s nothing as it seems/ the little that he needs […]♫” so wise from such a promising songwriting, with each chord rings tones of truth, the seeds of responsibility personally should begin at home.

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