If you’re looking for the best Pearl Jam songs for acoustic guitar, look no further. We’ve got you covered with 14 of the greatest hits.
Pearl Jam has been around since 1990 and produced some of the greatest songs since then. That’s plenty of time for their songs to have entered the playlists of many musicians. Their first album, Ten, has now sold 13x platinum, that’s 13 million copies, so it’s entirely reasonable to suggest that more than the odd guitarist has had a go at covering one or more of their songs.
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And for the covering purpose, what can be the best but covering with an acoustic guitar? So, in this blog post, we will take a look at the 14 best pearl jam songs for acoustic guitar. Before proceeding, let us know a bit about the band Pearl Jam itself.
About Pearl Jam
Including that first album in 1990, the group has released eleven albums so far. Until 2009, they issued one album every 2-3 years. Then they took four years to produce 2013’s Lightning Bolt and a further seven years to release Gigaton in 2020. The longer gaps in release dates were due to their touring schedule at the time.
Pearl Jam is a very popular, influential band. From the start, lead singer Eddie Vedder also played guitar. Stone Gossard plays rhythm guitar, Mike McCready takes lead guitar duties, and Jeff Ament is half of the rhythm section on bass guitar. They employed a succession of drummers until Matt Cameron joined in 1998. Cameron missed his first show in 24 years when he contracted COVID-19 in May 2022. That’s some attendance record, certainly.
The band’s lyrics range from personal thoughts in support of troubled individuals to political and social issues. The members routinely refuse to make music videos and rarely give interviews. They have also been critical of music industry ticketing practices, certain political views, and some social issues.
The two or three guitar parts in each Pearl Jam song give acoustic players a choice of which part to play, allowing them to get a feel for each musician’s place in the band.
14 Best Pearl Jam Songs For Acoustic Guitar
1. Angel (Fan Club Single)
A fan favorite, Angel, has only been played live a few times. The lyrical inspiration came from the 1800s poem “The Eloping Angels.” It’s a simple song, all about the guitar and vocals. It was written by Dave Abbruzzese, the band’s former drummer, and was premiered live in an acoustic form in 1992.
2. Daughter (Vs)
This song was originally played with the title Brother in 1992, at the same concert where Angel was played. The story goes that the lyrics weren’t finalized, although the tune was in place. A firmly acoustic song, it features Stone Gossard playing acoustic guitar and Jeff Ament on upright bass.
3. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Vs)
Elderly Woman also has poetic origins like Angel. It tells the story of two people, one of whom stayed in the small town she was born in and the other who moved away for work. It was written by Eddie Vedder, who said he wanted a longer title for a change.
4. Nothingman (Vitalogy)
Nothingman’s lyrics were written by bassist Jeff Ament with a melody by guitarist Stone Gossard. The subject has a broken heart because they said or did something they shouldn’t. This resulted in the end of their relationship, which now leaves nothing but memories.
5. Immortality (Vitalogy)
Immortality is not about Kurt Cobain, despite what many people think. Instead, Vedder has said it was written about his state of mind at the time. He maintains that he dislikes talking about Cobain and instead invites listeners to read their own meanings into the lyrics.
6. Off He Goes (No Code)
Off He Goes, says Vedder, is about someone (himself?) who is a bad friend. Almost everyone can relate to that situation. Most people have that old friend who has fallen out of touch permanently, no matter how long the friendship has previously endured.
7. Around the Bend (No Code)
There are different meanings attributed to this cut. Some people see it as a song about someone who has passed on. Others suggest it’s a lullaby about a father putting their child to bed and feeling sad that they can’t do that every night. The band prefers the latter interpretation.
8. Thin Air (Binaural)
The lyrics to this tune, written by Gossard, are frequently described as beautiful. The fans agree that it’s one of those pieces that means a lot more when you have someone in your life, as it’s a full-on love song. Gossard agrees, saying it reflects lovers’ desire not to hurt each other willingly.
9. Of The Girl (Binaural)
Another Gossard-penned song. This guy is definitely trying to escape his demons. Whether that’s a toxic ex or his addictions depends on whose view you take. Some listeners read drug imagery into the words, and others see gambling references or something about a girl.
10. Can’t Keep (Riot Act)
This is the opening song of Riot Act. Some fans believe it’s about suicide; others say it’s about leaving a place you hate. In the end, the lyric changes to ‘I will live forever, perhaps suggesting that the writer’s legacy is assured by the words and music they will leave behind them.
11. Thumbing My Way (Riot Act)
Thumbing My Way describes a journey from sadness or grief to happiness, where the writer recognizes that there were bad times as well as good ones and acknowledges the fact that the bad times (the ‘rusty signs’ of the lyrics) were not recognized. Vedder played the song at a friend’s funeral.
12. All or None (Riot Act)
The general consensus of opinion is split about this song. Some say it is about life in general, others that it is about unrequited love. Many fans also see it as a comment on the politics of the times when it was written – the band expressed their anti-Bush sentiment elsewhere on Riot Act.
13. Parachutes (Pearl Jam)
Parachutes seem to confuse many listeners, even ardent fans of the group. But by using a parachute as a metaphor for something that saves your life, then it becomes a love song. His lover has left, but without her, he realizes what he had with her. Her love is his parachute.
14. Gone (Pearl Jam)
Vedder wrote and first played Gone on tour in 2005. It speaks of someone making a new start, leaving everything behind, and just searching for change. He borrowed the line ‘Nothing is everything’ from Pete Townshend’s song Let’s See Action and thanked the Who guitarist on the album’s notes.
Pearl Jam has so far had a 30+ year career and shows no signs of stopping yet. They have released albums and then toured in rotation throughout their career. Even the pandemic didn’t stop them from releasing new music, although it did put the lid on their legendary tours for many months.