Pearl Jam’s 20 Best Tracks From the Last 20 Years

Pearl Jam
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Matt Cameron, Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam pose after the "Pearl Jam Twenty" press conference at the Fairmont Royal York during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

10. “Got Some”

“Get it now, get it on, before it’s gone,” Vedder urges in the chorus to this roaring, Elvis Costello and the Attractions-aping single from 2009’s Backspacer, which the band debuted when they were invited to be the musical guest for the first night of Conan O’Brien’s short-lived term as host of The Tonight Show. This is indeed the energetic high point of an album teeming with so many great moments.

9. “Dance of the Clairvoyants”

This first single off Gigaton initially took even the most OG Pearl Jam fan off guard. But it’s pretty impossible to resist succumbing to the vibe of the band’s funkiest cut since “Dirty Frank.” Channeling early ‘80s Talking Heads, the song finds Matt Cameron flexing his mojo on the laptop as Jeff Ament plays keyboards, Gossard moves to the bass and Vedder makes like Homosapien-era Pete Shelley as they lay down a groove that shimmies like the Aurora Borealis on the track’s cover sleeve.

8. “Ole”

Pearl Jam celebrated their 20-year anniversary as a band with this one-off single they made available as a free download on their site). Its vintage punch-in-the-throat Pearl Jam in the vein of “Last Exit” and “Habit” that is best heard via the fiery debut of the song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

7. “Man of the Hour”

This great song matches the ending of a great movie. “Man of the Hour” was prominently featured as the credits rolled and the misty-eyed crowds dispersed from their respective screenings of Tim Burton’s fantasy classic Big Fish and earned the group a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song in 2004.

6. “Santa Cruz”

This A-side to Pearl Jam’s 2008 holiday Ten Club single is one of the best original cuts from the series, tapping their inner Byrds with a breezy slice of California coast rock, anchored by a harmonica intro straight out of Neil Young’s Harvest. It would be so awesome to hear the group utilize this style more as they enter the September of their collective years.

5. “Mind Your Manners”

This unbridled thrasher from Lightning Bolt follows the tradition of “Animal”, “Spin the Black Circle” and “Hail, Hail” of Pearl Jam making the second cut into an album the most powerful and bombastic of the entire LP. And “Mind Your Manners” is no exception.

4. “The Fixer”

There was always a minor element of vintage power pop in the music of Pearl Jam. But none as unabashedly distinct as the Stiff Records-inspired riffs that propel the first single off Backspacer, the release of which also marked the first time anyone has ever been able to purchase a 7-inch vinyl record at a Target.

3. “Thumbing My Way”

A creek of calm amidst the pensive and challenging Riot Act, this rustic beauty offers a glimpse of things to come in Vedder’s then-future solo sidebar with the 2007 soundtrack to Into the Wild and 2011’s Ukulele Songs and has earned its stripes as a Pearl Jam concert favorite.

2. “Sirens”

The second single off this Lightning Bolt is everything you’ve come to know and love about Pearl Jam. With its big sky melodies and a soaring solo from McCready at the peak, this punchy power ballad belongs right up there with “Yellow Ledbetter” and “Rearviewmirror” and “Not For You” as one of the absolute best in the band’s canon.

1. “Seven O’Clock”

“For this is no time for depression or self-indulgent hesitance, this fucked up situation calls for all hands on deck,” decries Eddie Vedder in this near-seven minute slice of vintage midtempo Pearl Jam off Gigaton. Theoretically, he’s addressing the dire ecological straits we have wrought upon this planet in those lyrics, a clarion call to action that permeates across much of the album’s dozen cuts. Yet given how Gigaton now arrives as much of the globe is quarantined in their homes in an effort to stave off the coronavirus crisis, that aforementioned couplet takes on a whole new level of urgency.

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