Here it is. The Gift! THE Album that got me through the early days of lockdown. When Mrs ForTheDeaf was at her sickest and the law dictated that we could only leave our homes for one hour a day. I would head into the woods with Pearl Jam’s long awaited Gigaton on my headphones, two dogs by my side… Well, we would power through the undergrowth from Who Ever Said to Rivercross. My iTunes tells me I have played Gigaton more than any other record in 2020. That is in no small part, thanks to this center piece of a track.
It’s worth mentioning Gigaton is a hell of a fucking good record. I know it didn’t win everyone over. I don’t care, I’ll got to bat for it. I’d be so bold as to claim it is Pearl Jam’s best album of the 20th century and (hold tight Grungers) One of the three best record they have ever made. Yep. It might be middle aged shouty stodge rock to some. But As a fan who has been with them since their first ever UK show (I think I might have mentioned THAT before) and someone who has found merit in everything from No Code to Lightning Bolt I can safely say. I am middle aged stodgy and shouty. I really dig it.
7 O’clock is the track to play out over the closing credits of the annus mirabilis that has been 2020 because it fingers the villain of the piece and reduces him to a blip on the horizon. The instruments are set for hope. Where the band rage in other areas of Gigaton (Quick Escape burns from the inside and Never Destination is a masterclass in demolition through drumming) on this track they inspire positive change through leadership and parable.
“Seven O’ Clock in the morning got a message form afar, down under an oasis where there are dreams still being born, and summer spoke to winter relaying all encouraging words, and I was fully grateful mutant messages were heard”
I’m often told by people that I put too much emphasis on the importance of music. I heard those words 30 minutes into a walk that had my eyes practicing a surface tension experiment while I thought about the facts. My wife hadn’t been out of bed for a month, I hadn’t been to work in six weeks and there were numbers rising on the news and in the texts, tweets, WhatsApp messages, of my friends, of dead people, both unknown to us and coming ever closer to our real lives.
“Moved on from my despondency and left it in the bed, do I leave it there still sleeping or maybe kill it, better yet? For this is no time for depression or self indulgent hesitance, this fucked up situation calls for all hands on deck”
YES! The would be tears receded. Vision stabilized.
I had found the strength required to deal with all sorts of shit in the grooves of particular records many times before. Why would a global pandemic be any different? We were holding it down. We were isolated. We could pay the bills. We could eat and I could nurse her while she got this awful fluid off her breathing apparatus and we could take turns getting some sleep.
Suddenly there was a silver lining to this situation. We were spending more time together than we had since we got married 18 years ago. We were at home. In a home that cost us everything but I never saw. I was always in too late and out to early to notice the odd jobs that needed doing and the boxes that got stuffed in the cupboard under the stairs when we moved in were still there.
While she recovered, I reprogrammed. Slow down, look around, take time, to cook, to eat well, to be at home, listen to the album as a whole. Twice if you dig it. It’s OK. The record player got moved from the spare room to the front room. We sat at the table playing scrabble or painting old furniture while music played. Gigaton and Seven O’Clock came around again and again. We are better than ever while we’re getting over this.
“Much to be done, much to be, Much to be done”
Merry Christmas you lot. I’m so glad you made it.