I’m Open – Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam were famously at odds with their celebrity in the early stages of their career. Their appeal was too broad for Eddie Vedder and the band to feel they could really express themselves.
Stopping making videos so MTV couldn’t overplay them was the first step away from being alternative posterboys and getting to just be a big American band. Then there came the post Grunge records. Vitalogy took some big strides towards the margins but the band needed ‘their appeal to become more selective’ still.
No Code did the trick. It sent a message through the rock scene around the world. ‘Pearl Jam have gone shit’ was the word in the bars and clubs disposed to plaid shirts and leather jackets. This would create the vacuum required so Vedder, McCready, Ament, Irons and Gossard could now concentrate on becoming the hype free Neil Young/ Grateful Dead calibre touring collective they felt needed to be.
Except Pearl Jam didn’t ‘Go shit’. They made one hell of an album in No Code. Sure, it’s got no hit singles, no anthems and no big new sounds of a hot new scene on it, but it’s full of things bands seldom do at the height of their powers.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the spoken word ambience of I’m Open. Just 3 minutes of organ hum and chiming guitars over a poem about growing up and trading ‘Magic for fact, no take backs’
These 3 minutes towards the end of an album designed to be ‘art not product’ set Pearl Jam up to be anything they want to be. Over 20 years later they’re still one of the biggest bands in the world.


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