It was late in the Fall of 1991…I was a sophomore at Delta High School, located in the middle of a cornfield just outside the thriving metropolis known as Muncie, IN. There were a handful of things that consumed my time and attention…swimming, skateboarding, soccer, socializing, and most of all…music.
As a 16-year-old with a license and a car, I enjoyed some new-found freedoms. The greatest of these freedoms centered around music. I was able to drive myself to my percussion lessons. But, even better…,I had the privilege to drive to record stores!
One of my favorite spots to hit in Muncie was the Discount Den (R.I.P.). New and used CD’s filled the east wall…add a cheap fountain soda into the mix…and I was set for lengthy periods of browsing and annoying the workers with questions about release dates and their ability to get a larger selection of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention discs.
On one of my trips to the Den in that fall of ’91, I picked up a new-ish release…Ten by the Seattle band Pearl Jam. In all honesty, this would be a life-changing purchase. I had read a lot about Pearl Jam in various publications. But, being that I was living outside of Muncie, IN, I had not had much exposure to the music of the band…yet! In the days before everyone and their grandmothers had hi-speed internet…one had to depend on outlets like the radio, record stores, MTV (remember 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation), Spin and Rolling Stone to get exposed to new music.
I remember rushing home (well, I’m sure I observed the speed limit) and quickly heading up the stairs to my music room (now my fathers music room), eagerly anticipating throwing the disc into my CD player (yes, this was before every vehicle in the world had a built-in CD player so I had to wait until I got home…Listen, I was lucky to have a tape deck in that 1988 Cavalier).
What I experienced was sheer joy. The music was incredible! Intense, passionate, skillful, and beautiful. I was quick to throw my headphones on and begin learning the drum parts. I played along with Ten more than any other album for a good six month period.
And so, my affection for the music of Pearl Jam began. But, there was a moment in the Spring of 1992 that solidified the bands place in my heart. When the band appeared on MTV’s Unplugged, my appreciation for the band sky-rocketed. I believe it was the intensity of the performance of Porch that lit a little fire in my heart. I remember being overcome by thoughts and feelings that, “Yes, this is good! Yes, this is what I enjoy!”
Later, in the summer of 1992, I would travel to the World Music Amphitheater outside of Chicago and see Pearl Jam perform as part of the Lollapalooza tour. It was amazing. And, I’ve been fortunate to see PJ numerous times throughout the years!
I’ve been a fan ever since that day in the fall of ’91 when I purchased Ten. And…now, on Labor Day weekend of the year 2011, I will once again enjoy the live music of Pearl Jam! Twenty years of following a band. Wow!