The ballad “Black” by Pearl Jam, encompasses loss on every level. The loss of a parent, a child, even a best friend or a long term relationship. Wikipedia notes that the lyrics are based on the breakup of Vedder’s longtime girlfriend.
As much as you try to get over the loss, simple everyday scenes remind you. The pain does not subside; even though you desperately want it to.
Those around you try so hard to re-engage you back to the things you once loved. But they too remind you, once again. You think to yourself “how can life go on, as if nothing has happened? Doesn’t the world know my pain?” This dialogue you have within your mind, is called “mourning”. The world you once knew seems to halt; if only temporary, seems like a lifetime.
I can truthfully relate on the personal relevance’s Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard drew from to write this song. With Gossard (music written in 1990), he may have been mourning the passing of Andrew Wood; much like Chris Cornell did with the Temple of the Dog project.
When Vedder sang it on June 24, 2017 at the Forenze Rocks Festival at Visarno Arena in Florence, Italy; many say it was for his close friend Cornell. The world had lost a musical icon – Chris Cornell the previous month (May 18). You could see and hear the emotion he echoed – sensing he now had the reason to sing with meaningful conviction. It’s true that he sang this for many years; but this sole performance was the very first time I felt the meaning of the lyrics Vedder had written (even though many may not agree with me). Needless to say, I had tears afterwards. I’m almost positive that anyone who watched Eddie perform Black that night, probably felt the tears run as the world could still not reconcile the loss of such an iconic musician who also hailed from Seattle.
There’s always a song that brings you back to a time where you just…….remember
Eddie Vedder – Lyrics
Stone Gossard – Music
“Black” by Pearl Jam
Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did
All five horizons revolved around her soul as the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn
Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds of what was everything
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…
I take a walk outside, I’m surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head, I’m spinning, oh,
I’m spinning, how quick the sun can drop away
And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…
All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I’ll be… yeah…
Uh huh… uh huh… ooh…
I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life,
I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky,
But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?
Too doo doo too, too doo doo [many times until fade]
*This article is dedicated to my friends in the Seattle Pearl Jam tribute band “Washed in Black”. They are a testament to true brotherhood even during the toughest of times.”