Monday Melody: Betterman (Pearl Jam)

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Looking over my list of Monday Melodies so far, I noticed I only included two songs from the ’90s so far, which surprises me since the ’90’s may be my favorite decade for music (It was a lot more versatile than other decades) before it all went to hell.

Although Pearl Jam was classified as “grunge” and came out of Seattle at the same time as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains in the early ’90s, some grunge purists argue that Pearl Jam isn’t really grunge at all and really owes more to classic rock than to punk or grunge.   I probably agree with that, but for me it’s not a problem, because I grew up listening to classic rock.  On my local classic rock station, you can hear Pearl Jam played along with Led Zeppelin and the Stones.   There was no one who could look crazier than Eddie Vedder on stage, but he sure could sing his butt off and there really aren’t any Pearl Jam songs I don’t like.

Betterman was released in 1994 (has it really been 22 years?!) and is one of their more well known songs.  It’s not everyone’s favorite, but I love it. I actually like its pop-rock sound.

 

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Monday Melody #2: Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum)

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While watching the video for this week’s Monday Melody, “All the Young Dudes,” Youtube directed me to this song (which in some ways is very similar, at least in sound). I played it of course, and couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I’m posting it as a second entry this week. For me, this song has a story attached to it.

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It’s a song that brings me back to one of my few happy childhood memories. It was the summer of 1967 (the Summer of Love to those of you about a decade or more older than I was). I was about 7. My parents and I were spending a couple of weeks living in a rented house on Cape Cod Bay (East Brewster, Mass.), where every day I’d be able to walk out about a mile onto the sandbars and collect shells and hermit crabs in a plastic bucket.  I wouldn’t return until the tide began to come back in (and it came in so quickly sometimes I had to run back!)   Before outracing the tide I’d set the hermit crabs free.  My 12 year old half-sister, who I idealized as some kind of goddess (she was everything I was not), had joined us for those two weeks (she was my mother’s daughter but she only lived with us for one year in 1971).

At the end of a busy and carefree day on the beach, I remember the two of us sitting out on the screened porch that overlooked the bay, our skin still hot to the touch with sunburn (and in my case, covered with mosquito bites), drinking Coke from tall frosted-plastic tumblers and eating potato chips.  A tinny transistor radio was tuned into the local Top 40 station. The water of the bay gleamed like molten bronze under the setting sun, and a Citronella candle burned on the metal mesh table. Mosquitoes bounced against the rusted screen that separated us from the salty sea air and occasionally fried themselves in the bug zapper that hung from the worn wooden rafters that had turned gray with salt and age. Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” emanated from the tinny radio. I was in heaven. To this day, whenever I hear this song, I’m taken back to that long ago summer. What a different world it was back then.