Fire and Water Records: Pearl Jam

The Brothers Daly mark their triumphant return to Fire and Water Records with a spotlight on one of the most influential and important bands of their youth, PEARL JAM. Inspired by the pending release of hotly anticipated new album, and fueled by the rose-tinted nostalgia of the grungy flannel and corduroy draped early '90s, join Ryan and Neil as they honor this titan of the alternative rock scene by showcasing some of their favorite Pearl Jam songs.

Track list

  1. Alive
  2. Dance of the Clairvoyants
  3. Why Go
  4. Porch
  5. State of Love and Trust
  6. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
  7. Black
  8. Do the Evolution
  9. Corduroy
  10. Better Man
  11. Rearview Mirror
  12. Release
  13. Yellow Ledbetter

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9 responses to “Fire and Water Records: Pearl Jam

  1. Oh, thank goodness. I was a little afraid one of you would pick the Pearl Jam cover of “Last Kiss.” Then I remembered you both have class (or at least Neil does).

  2. In the inevitable event that Pearl Jam claims I stole their song title “Super Blood Wolf Moon” for my epic four-part space odyssey, I’d like to share my proof of concept that i initially posted on FB on January 21, 2019. So as it turns out, I may actually have to sue Pearl Jam instead for them stealing MY idea…


    PART ONE: “Super Blood”

    Part One opens with a video transmission sent from a small, remote colony on the Moon (in a not-too-distant future) where a scientist reports that she thinks she may have found a cure for cancer. In the lab behind her, we see an operating table and an extremely large furry creature heavily-sedated on the table. The scientist holds up a vial of blood that appears to have been extracted from said creature. As she reports her findings to the camera, the creature begins to move. She says she’s transmitting her report and the cure just as the monstrous creature behind her springs to life and launches itself at her as the video feed goes dark.

    Back on earth, we learn that Federally-funded cancer research (CDC, NCI, ASCO) has been privatized and people like Elon Musk (Tesla) and Richard Branson (Virgin) have been working in concert with independent labs on a plan to cure cancer by sending scientists to the moon during the rare Super Blood Wolf Moon (like the one that occurred last night). Scientists theorized that if they can capture the rarely-seen but often-feared Moon Wolf during the lunar eclipse and extract its Super Blood at the exact moment the earth’s shadow plunges the moon into darkness, the Moon Wolf’s “Super” Blood would be a scientifically and genetically perfect and insurmountable force of treatment against all known diseases and illnesses (hence the name, Super Blood)! And if the scientist’s transmission was accurate, she found it before she was killed.

    Having lost all contact with the colonists on the Moon, a team of scientists, medical personnel, trackers/hunters, and mercenaries (including husband and wife scientists, Warren and Crystal Zevon) is recruited on a recon mission to the moon to find the cure. When they get there, the colony is in ruin and the lab has been all-but destroyed. But extensive notes remain detailing how and where to locate the Moon Wolf and how exactly to extract its blood during the lunar eclipse.

    Of course, catching the Moon Wolf in complete darkness proves to be a much more dangerous task than originally thought… especially considering that the lunar eclipse only heightens the Moon Wolf’s Super Blood. Much of the second act will involve the tracking of the Moon Wolves and similar to “Predator”
    or “First Blood,” they slowly begin to realize that THEY are the hunted. During the climactic battle in the third act, with most of the team now decimated, the few remaining members track it back to an old abandoned outpost and trap the Moon Wolf. Crystal manages to stick a needle and vial into the wolf but before she can extract its Super Blood, the Moon Wolf turns on her and attacks. Warren throws his arm out to save his wife and is bitten by the beast. He wrestles with the Moon Wolf, holding it at bay long enough for Crystal to finish the extraction and seal the vial. She hands it off to another scientist then screams at the monster to distract it from her husband. As it turns its attention to her, the remaining team rescues Warren in time to see the wolf launch and brutal attack on Crystal. Warren is dragged away kicking and screaming by the few humans left as his wife is torn to pieces. They seal the wolf in the colony and return to their ship. On the long voyage back to earth, they treat Warren’s wounds and try to console him over the loss of his wife. But they all remind him that HE must continue their work or else she died in vain. Suspiciously, Warren’s wounds heal exceptionally fast as they return to earth. But his mindset and mood grow increasingly dark…

    PART TWO: “Moon-Wolfism”

    Part Two opens with the triumphant return home of the astronaut-science team, although the crew is somber and mourning the losses of their own. But during exit interviews with various news outlets, they are hailed as celebrities and heroes, whereas Warren falls deeper and deeper into depression and anger as the rest of humanity celebrates their pending cure for cancer. Warren begins to wonder if he even wants to save them after all?

    Time passes and most of the first act focuses on the clinical trials of blood-testing various species and subjects, all the while Warren (who’s now spearheading the entire research community) begins to descend further into frustration and obsession as the cure doesn’t seem to come fast enough. He continues to mourn the loss of his wife but something darker is taking over him. He is descending into “moon-wolfism” with the coming of the next Super Blood Wolf Moon.

    The second act will reveal how some test subjects turned into were-moon-wolves as the cancer cure doesn’t seem to go according to plan. And small packs of were-moon-wolves exhibit signs of intelligence but with aggression and revolt against the human population; attaching and turning as many humans as they can find. War has been declared, man against wolf. Battles break out, first in small rural communities and eventually in larger metropolitan areas. And as the humans begin to retreat, they are left wondering what could’ve gone wrong with the serum? It was only supposed to cure disease?

    The third act then ends with Warren being completely transformed into the Moon Wolf. His moon-wolfism from the first bite, mixed with his anger and resentment of his wife’s death sent him spiraling out of control and he’s been tainting the samples ever since with his own Super Blood; purposely creating an army of Super Blood Moon Wolves in an all-out war against all of humanity. He imprisons his own human science team and forces them to replicate HIS serum so he can create more and more soldiers. And reminiscent of “The Walking Dead,” the human population is on the run, leaving the vulnerability and exposure of rural America and instead congregating to urban areas with high buildings and skyscrapers (as most of the were-moon-wolves can’t open doors or push elevator buttons).

    Reeling from one defeat after another, the desperate-to-find-a-cure science team battles their way out and escapes from Warren’s lab. And as they regroup in a secret hideaway, they begin to receive cryptic, primitive messages from the Moon, confirming that their worst fears may now actually be their only hope… that not everyone died on the Moon!

    PART THREE: “Planet of the Wolves”

    Part three will then focus on a post-apocalyptic “Planet of the Apes” style civilization where society is in ruin and were-moon-wolves hunt in packs and turn any/all humans they can find into Warren’s army! Meanwhile, the small band of human resistance scientists manages to decipher the code sent from the Moon and realize that Warren’s wife Crystal must’ve survived the attack just long enough to synthesize an antidote to the Super Blood virus. The only remaining hope for humanity is to return to the Moon, retrieve Crystal’s notes, and retrieve a new Moon Wolf’s Super Blood sample… only this time during a solar eclipse (which would counteract the effects of the Super Blood Wolf Moon lunar eclipse).

    The second act unfolds as the team fights their way thru a perimeter of Warren’s wolves into a secret launch pad and space ship and returns to the Moon, only to find that they’re too late. There are no remaining scientists alive in any of the abandoned outposts. But Crystal’s instructions are there and clear as day. They need to find the wolfpack leader, the Alpha Female! So, the team launches a last-ditch effort to save mankind by tracking the remaining Moon Wolves just before the solar eclipse. This however will prove far more difficult than before as the journey takes place in utter blinding light, as there is no shade or shadow on the face of the moon from the Sun’s rays.

    In the third act, after an arduous trek across the Moon and battle with Alpha Female’s protective guards, in a complete white-wash of blinding light, they finally entrap the Wolfpack leader and just when they’re about to kill her to extract her Super Blood sample, she speaks! The Moon Wolf Alpha Female is Crystal Zevon, Warren’s wife! She didn’t die after all. She survived the Moon Wolf attack and became the Queen of the Moon Wolves. And she was the one who sent the secret messages! She’s now completely transformed into a fully cognizant and intellectually superior she-wolf, capable of communication and deductive reasoning (having also gained dexterity of opposable thumbs). And right before their eyes, she herself extracts a new Super Blood sample from her arm at the exact moment of the solar eclipse, sealing this now perfected blood serum antidote in a vial for return to earth.

    Back at the dilapidated moon colony’s science lab, Crystal explains how she had to conduct her research in secret, all the while pretending to be a pure blood Moon Wolf lest they turn on her and attack. So, she couldn’t stay in the colony lab with her research, hence the reason she stayed in their den. The science team in turn explain to her that Warren has become a monster after being bitten; further complicated by his belief that he left his own wife to die on the Moon. He has been overcome by madness and grief and is now turning the entire world into his army! Crystal then explains that they don’t have much time and that her synthesized samples have been fine-tuned over the years and tested on herself. But this new Super Blood sample extracted during the solar eclipse must be injected into the were-moon-wolves on earth before the next Super Blood Wolf Moon or the effects will be permanent and irreversible. And with that, they all (Crystal included) head back to Earth!

    PART FOUR: “Blood Relatives”

    In part four, the science team, along with Alpha Female Moon Wolf, Crystal Zevon, all return back to earth just before the next Super Blood Wolf Moon only to find the planet in utter ruin and humans scattered and scared; living in small compact high buildings and skyscrapers. Humans are afraid to walk the earth as packs of wolves encircle and patrol the urban cities, looking for more humans to “turn” for Warren’s canine army!

    Human reconnaissance reveals Warren’s base of operations location, so Crystal hatches a dangerous plan to infiltrate Warren’s den. He doesn’t know she’s alive so in wolf form, she basically can walk in, bringing with her the human scientist hostages (whom he’s been desperately searching for all this time in order to finally exact his vengeance). They all coordinate the plan of attack and head out.

    Once inside the den, Warren’s foot soldiers discover the new blood samples they were smuggling in and realize it’s a trap. Chaos ensues and all Hell breaks loose. However, unbeknownst to Warren’s guards, as a back-up plan, the human scientists rallied any/all the remaining humans to surround the den and be ready in case of emergency. A final battle breaks out and this is the war to end all wars!

    During the battle, a few were-moon-wolves are captured and injected with the new solar serum, who then revert back to human form; thus, proving the samples do in fact work. But they don’t have enough time to fight AND inject them all. Crystal’s theory is if they can injection Warren, who’s spawned the most blood relatives, the rest should revert back to human form as with him. But Crystal knows they’re running out of time as the Super Blood Wolf Moon is coming fast. She sends the human science team back to their lab to try to synthesize as much antidote as they can while at the same time drawing as many of Warren’s wolves after them. They break free and run for it as she goes off to encounter Warren.

    In the third act, she finally confronts him but he’s almost all gone; nearly fully Moon Wolf by now. Crystal reveals herself to him, but he can’t quite comprehend it. His animal instincts are taking over and even his ability to speak is devolving fast. As they fight for his soul, she begs him to remember his humanity and why they went on the mission to the moon in the first place. To save lives, not to take them. He retorts that the humans were there to kill the moon wolves in order to save themselves. But she counters that they were never going to kill them. She begs him to remember the first video feed, the scientist only sedated the wolf to extract its blood when the wolf woke up and attacked. But their plan was never to hurt them.

    Warren desperately tries to combat his inner demons and struggles to remember; but as the lunar eclipse approaches overhead, his human instincts weaken as the Super Blood Moon Wolf takes over. Finally, he bites her throat, a fatal wound, and as she lay dying beneath him, she tells him she loves him and always will and not a day went by that she didn’t think of him when she was alone on the moon. And most importantly, she forgives him for everything that’s happened since. Suddenly, a fast and furious rush of human memories comes flooding over him and their entire lives flash before his very eyes! He releases her and drops his guard for a moment; just a moment. And with her last breath and the last ounce of energy she has left inside her, she sticks the one remaining vial of antidote into him as the moon completely disappears from view. The lunar eclipse has occurred. And she dies in his arms. He looks down at his now dead wife as she reverts back to human form. And he knows that she sacrificed herself to save him so that he can go on and save the world with the cure.

    Unfortunately, the new antidote injection was administered too late as the lunar eclipse had already begun. Thus, the effects were not fully reversible as his Super Blood was enhanced and strengthened. Instead, her solar serum mixed with his super blood and as a near crippling chemical reaction takes place in his body, it finally relents and has made him exactly what she was. A permanent Super Solar Blood Moon Wolf, returning all the intelligence and humanity of a caring and compassionate scientist, able to speak and think and reason and love. And with full use and dexterity of his opposable thumbs. And with that realization, he collapses upon her and bursts out into tears.

    In the epilogue, Warren finally makes his way back to the human scientists and reveals that he’s no longer a threat to them and will work with them to find not only a cure for moon-wolfism but also on the cure for cancer and other blood-related diseases (as discovered initially in the first Moon colonists’ research notes). But the adverse effects of this war with humans will be long-lasting and could take years to repair the damage done. And as such, Super Solar Blood Moon Wolf scientist, Warren Zevon, will have to remain a secret (protected by the few remaining human scientists on his side) and work in the shadows until a permanent cure can be found. No one could ever know what happened, lest he be hunted down for crimes against humanity of which he could never fully explain away! Instead, Warren and Crystal’s life’s work would be immortalized and celebrated. Crystal would continue to be reported as having died on the Moon. And Warren would be assumed dead, never found. But in secret, under cover of darkness and anonymity, Warren Zevon would continue to work tirelessly to find the cure. All the while, secretly hoping against hope that there would be no adverse effects from his new Super Blood cocktail coursing thru his veins. And all the while fearing what unknown impact the next Super Blood Wolf Moon or Solar Eclipse may bring!

  3. Well, this was a great listen, even though it’s been a loooong time since I’ve checked in with Pearl Jam. I was in my mid-teens when they emerged, and I was all in on them and Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. However, while my love for the latter two has continued, at some point (circa ‘No Code’) I drifted away from Pearl Jam, deciding they were a bit staid and po-faced and ‘dad rock’, not as heavy or experimental as Soundgarden, not as compellingly self-destructive as AiC. Plus they foolishly kept on making records and touring, rather than imploding and becoming fixed in amber at their peak. But your show reminded of what I loved about them in the first place – that fiery passion and invective they were capable of at their best. Maybe it’s time to revisit those first three albums, at least… ‘Vs’ being my personal favourite, and ‘Go’ probably tops my list of PJ songs.

    One more thing. For all that Nirvana were positioned as the leading lights of grunge, as the most influential and revolutionary band of that era, the one that united the metalheads and the indie kids, in my Northern English town at least, it was Pearl Jam that had the biggest cultural impact. They were the ones with the T-shirts everywhere, they were the band that all the local bands covered – one day they were covering GnR and Poison and Skid Row, the next it was all PJ – not Nirvana. Sure, Nirvana were the critical darlings, and Kurt Cobain further enhanced his band’s reputation, somewhat retrospectively, by becoming immortal, but I maintain that at the time, on the ground, Pearl Jam were, for good or ill, the biggest and most influential band from that movement.

    Anyway, enough of that. I’m off to listen to Vs.

  4. Well done, guys! I enjoyed this show, not because I’m a Pearl Jam fan, but because of the exact opposite! I really checked out of the music scene in the ’90’s and grunge, in particular. I missed a lot of stuff because I just didn’t want to listen the “popular” songs my friends were listening to. That’s why I enjoyed this show so much because it showed me all this stuff that I missed. I really enjoyed your personal associations with these songs and how deep you got into the band. I felt like I had the same feeling with Oingo Boingo (learning the band’s names and tracking down bootlegs and B-sides) so I could certainly relate to your feelings toward Pearl Jam. Have you ever had the same feelings toward any other band? Anyways, this was great to hear and I can’t wait for the next episode! Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for your feedback Mike. I think I can speak for both Ryan and I when I say that we’re probably too critical of many popular artists out there… but the ones we really do appreciate and respect, we treat with the exact same attention to detail, depth of insight, and reverence. So you can expect many more “deep dives” into certain specifically influential artists; many of whom stem from the same alternative rock tree. Ryan and I have always shared a knack for finding that proverbial needle in a haystack song, album, or band. So thanks for listening. More to come!


    If you guys haven’t check out the Pearl Jam Live At the Gorge Album that I believe has 3 different live concerts on it. And check out Vedder’s Into the Wild Soundtrack and Ukulele Songs. Awesome stuff.

    Best episode ever produced on the Fire & Water Network. I’m serious.

  6. Nice job, Brothers Daly!

    So many people tried to ram (no pun intended) Pearl Jam down my throat in high school, I immediately rebelled. I declared myself a Soundgarden fan. But thanks to shows like these, I know now what on what I miss out, and I’m a fool for it.

  7. I was not a cool kid. The closest I got to popular music before 1987 was exactly what you’d expect: Michael, Madonna, Prince, Cyndi; the biggest acts. Aside from a few mild crossovers like “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” I was afraid a heavy metal for the horror/Satanic imagery. I listened to early rap mostly for the juvenile kicks from lewd language. When I started hanging out with my brother, he broadened my horizons with Metallica, Faith No More, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J…

    Just to get it clear in my head, I tried to work out my personal “alternative” timeline using the “grunge” Wikipedia page as a spine. Setting aside the much too mainstream Talking Heads, I’ll start with how I was tripped out by the music videos to Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Peek-a-Boo” in 1988 and The Cure’s “Lullaby” the following year. I want to say I heard Pixies’ “Monkey Gone to Heaven” well before alt-rock blew up. My brother definitely turned me on to Nine Inch Nails’ “Down in It” and Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” in ’89 via our local top 40 station 104 KRBE’s weekend indie/dance block. Occasional exposure to MTV in 1990 yielded familiarity with Sonic Youth’s “Kool Thing.” At some point lil’ bro played me some tracks off Mystical Shit, but he probably reached back into the King Missile catalog after getting Happy Hour in 1993.

    My brother went right out and bought Nevermind straight away, and I thought it was fine, but wasn’t as enamored with it as he was. I didn’t like all the aggressive, growling, gravelly vocals. Based on the timelines pulled from Wikipedia, “Jeremy” was released as a video a few weeks before “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came out as a single, and the more immediate success. It’s weird that Nirvana are treated as breaking grunge mainstream, since I remember taking to Pearl Jam more readily. I preferred their more melodic sound, and like you boys, I could actually sing enough like Eddie Vedder to not completely embarrass myself. I’m pretty sure my brother had a copy of Ten, but he didn’t play it a fraction as much as his Nirvana cassettes, so I mostly knew the radio hits.

    “Alive,” “Even Flow,” “Black” and I want to say “Why Go” all got spins on Houston radio, with Ten blurring into Vs. as a continuous stream of hits with “Daughter,” “Animal,” and “Dissident,” then on to Vitalogy’s “Not for You,” “Corduroy,” “Better Man” and to a far lesser degree “Tremor Christ.” “Yellow Ledbetter” was a constant, but then Pearl Jam up and died locally, aside from the abysmal “Last Kiss” cover.

    Of the Seattle sound, my appreciation of Nirvana grew over time. There’s a handful of Soundgarden tracks I dig, but not much past them. I probably had the least use for Alice in Chains contemporaneously, but Fixit’s love for them and constant exposure for years elevated their esteem. Mac and I probably love Stone Temple Pilots over all others in this category, although if you expand the scope to Texas then Toadies gives them a run for their money. I confess a weakness for Chicago’s Veruca Salt and Smashing Pumpkins. Candlebox is underrated, as are Australia’s Silverchair (where is the DCOCD love, Hix?) I’m willing to defend Bush, but only up to a point.

    I steadily lost interest in Pearl Jam over the years, specifically because they were so clearly ’70s rock/folk influenced, prone to Quixotic crusades, and the three hour concerts catalogued in thousands of bootleg albums. They leaned into painful earnestness instead of bombast or heroin, and I do enjoy my secondhand highs. Their fire seemed to dwindle with each new EP, with their Phishy jam band excesses left unchecked. I’m a lyrics guy, and the unintelligibility grew tiresome. They’re the Eagles of grunge.

    I still really like “Alive.” The autobiographical angst and hair metal licks still rock. “Why Go” has a swell backstory, but sonically is just okay. I’m politically aligned with “Porch,” but shrug. Now that you mention it, I think I heard “State of Love and Trust” on the radio, but it didn’t have longevity. Ditto “rearviewmirror,” but more confidently.

    I was aware of “Do the Evolution” because of the McFarlane/Altieri connection, but I can’t honestly say I’d seen the entire video or heard the song before tonight. Kinda edgy, kinda tacky visually, and not my tune at all. “Corduroy” is easily one of the best of their late ’90s tracks, and I don’t hate it despite it being overplayed as fuck in town. I can’t say the same for “Better Man,” but it’s the ’80s power ballad of a band that would shun them. I like “Release” alright, and it stood out the few times my brother played the full album, but “Oceans” does it better in half the time.

    “Dance of the Clairvoyants” fascinates me in it’s un-Jamminess. It is 179% a shameless Talking Heads riff right down to the distinct Byrne cadence, and I’m not at all mad at that. It’s two great throwback tastes no one expected would ever mingle. My only disappointment is that Vedder skipped the oversized suit and flop sweat in the video in favor of cosplaying as Benjamin Bratt’s character from Doctor Strange.

    My ex-roomate’s favorite song was “Yellow Ledbetter.” Of all the songs that exist. And she didn’t know what the song was about any more than the rest of us. And then they used “Yellow Ledbetter” over the closing credits of 50/50, and now what I think of is Joseph Gordon-Levitt smiling at Anna Kendrick, and so we’re cool now.

    “Black” is officially my favorite Pearl Jam song, and probably the one my friends would assume was my favorite from knowing me. It’s one of the few songs I sung at karaoke, and by my reckoning not at all well, but I’ve got a story and maybe a date out of it that I’ll share one of these days. That said, I’m much more likely to sing “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” to myself without any notice, as I did at work after listening to the podcast, until I had to stop because I was starting to tear up again. So maybe that’s secretly my actual favorite of their songs? But only the acoustic “Go” b-side. The overproduced album version is too sappy, and doesn’t have the same aching delivery of the final verse that makes my nose runny. Now that’s a song I could respect liking over all the other songs. “I just want to scream, ‘Hello…'” *sob*

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