“The north is to south what the clock is to time.
 There’s east and there’s west and there’s everywhere life. 
I know that I was born and I know that I’ll die. 
The in between is mine. I am mine…”- I Am Mine (words and lyrics Eddie Vedder)

Two events literally shook rock band Pearl Jam to its core in the early 2000’s. One was personal and the other was global. At Roskilde, in 2000, around 40 minutes into their set, the concert audience tried to rush towards the stage, in effect, crushing nine people to death. In New York and Washington, in 2001, we had the 9/11 terrorist attack that shocked the world.

Reeling from sadness, anger maybe even guilt, Pearl Jam almost broke up, but pulled themselves together to record a new album entitled Riot Act. Incorporating the mood of the time, Eddie Vedder and company set about recording new songs that were respectful to the tragic events that shaped their lives. The bigger picture, in terms of songwriting for the album, would see issues of love, existentialism, loss, life and death rise to the surface. In short, Love Boat Captain is arguably the standout on the album, but a sentimental favourite of mine is ‘I Am Mine’.

A few days ago, I published an interview with a friend, who is interestingly a very talented poet, and it got me thinking about poetry in the form of music lyrics. I am possibly biased here, but there is no one better than Eddie Vedder, in being able to pour out his soul on paper as a songwriter. Like Bob Dylan, I believe he is also a great storyteller.

“I Am Mine’ is essentially about feeling at ease with yourself. You cannot control the beginning or end of your life, but what is in between, that is for you to decide what you want to do with it.

“The ocean is full ’cause everyone’s crying,
 The full moon is looking for friends at high tide.
The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrows denied. 
I only know my mind. I am mine….” – I Am Mine (words and lyrics Eddie Vedder)

Photo Credit   The header image is the first single of Pearl Jam’s Riot Act album. I believe my inclusion of this single cover may constitute as ‘fair use’ in illustrating their artistic genius. Furthermore no free alternative seems to exist. 


1 Comment »

  1. Rob, I have been thinking about this a lot and have been reading essays about poetry. Maybe in some way, your questions to me have helped spark this desire.

    Setting one’s philosophy to music is satisfying. Ezra Pound said, “Poets who will not study music are defective”. T.S. Eliot wrote an essay “The Music of Poetry” (1942) where he discusses the craft of poetizing and how the “music” of poetry must approach the sound of common language. I think many, and you suggest, Vedder here, achieves the poetic element in his lyrics. Eliot also suggests, in this essay, that the poem should “produce the effect of a dream.” To me, this means that a poem, (or lyrics) reaches the mind of the reader (listener), and on an unconscious level, touches deeply.

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