Friday, February 24, 2017

Remembering Pearl Jam's First Collaboration With Neil Young at the 1993 VMA Awards

Back in the good old days, when Pearl Jam had just a ton of energy, their collaboration with fellow rock legend Neil Young was a cross generational collaboration. Here was an artist who had performed at Woodstock getting together with one of the bands that helped to make Lollapalooza the defining rock tour for a new generation.

Of course, that was a different era in music. Kurt Cobain was still alive and, in fact, had only recently altered the musical landscape when Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" catapulted rock into a whole new chapter. Far from proclamations that rock was dead, which have become quite popular and numerous these days, all of this energetic angst simply injected some much needed energy and new blood into rock. 

At that point, you would not be faulted to think that rock was going strong, and that it had a very bright future. After all, bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, just to name two of the biggest young bands at the time, were inspiring a new generation of musicians, and that seemed to bode well for the future! In the early 1990's, new rock groups with different and interesting sounds were emerging everywhere, seemingly. And the popular culture was so intimately linked and involved with these young rock bands, that it seemed at that point, indeed, that the popular cliché that rock would never die held more than a little truth to it.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and everything has changed. There hardly seem to be any young rock bands making a big cultural splash, let alone the kind of tidal wave that Nirvana and Pearl Jam, among others, had back in the early nineties. Now, we have some attractive people who have a team of people producing music and selling their image, and this is what we hear on the radio, time and time again. Long gone are the days when rock bands wrote their own music and lyrics and relied on the sounds from their own instruments, hoping to make do.

These days, it seems that young people just want to sing, just perhaps want to get on some reality television show and get enough support to win it all and get that record deal and be able to make it big, almost overnight. The idea of buying secondhand instruments and getting together with friends during the high school days and learning to play the instruments both individually as well as in tandem with the other emerging musicians, and learning your way? The notion that music might sound raw and not overly synthesized? Of playing small bars or clubs, and working your way up, hoping to attract attention or to put together some kind of music album and sell the sound to a record label? Those ideas seem to have largely gone by the wayside.

Yet, since this week happened to have reminders of those days, with what would have been Kurt Cobain's 50th birthday being the root of it all, I found myself reminiscing about that time, about those days. About all of that music.

And so, here was one of my favorite musical moments from the early nineties, when Pearl Jam and Neil Young first teamed up:

Remember When Neil Young and Pearl Jam Lost Their Minds Playing “Rockin’ in the Free World” at the 1993 VMAs? Jeremy Gordon // January 27, 2017

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