Formed in 1990 in the ashes of Seattle's beloved grunge pioneers Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, over their three-decade career, has pushed ever- forward to become one of the biggest bands in American, and dare we say, world history with 11 albums and over a thousand concerts under their belts to date.
In a packed episode this week, Rolling Stone Music Now host Brian Hiatt looks back at the storied career of Seattle Grunge icons Pearl Jam with Steven Hyden, the author of the new book Long Road: Pearl Jam and the Soundtrack of a Generation.
"In the '90s, if you were an Indie rock site you would have been against Pearl Jam," Hyden says, "because they were like the epitome of a mainstream Rock band that was everywhere, almost looking at Indie rock bands being the antithesis of that. Whereas now, you might look at a band like Pearl Jam as being this old-fashioned white guy Rock band that doesn't seem to have much relevance to the current music world, and there is a degree of truth to that, to be honest."
"I just think they have such an interesting career, especially if you're talking about the '90s," Hyden adds, "if you don't talk about Pearl Jam, you're leaving out a significant part of the story. Whether you like them or not, they were a significant part of music at that time, especially in the '90s."
Making the argument that Pearl Jam have been grandfathered into the Classic Rock cannon despite their '90s inception and clear punk influences, both Hyden and Hiatt agree that the band was destined for that inclusion early on. "It's a double-edged sword with Pearl Jam," says Hyden. "It was there from the beginning, and just from a visual perspective, they looked like a band from the '70s more so than a band like Nirvana... even though Nirvana had a lot of the same influences, there's just something about them that seemed more opposed to that lineage at least in a philosophical kind of way. Whereas Pearl Jam they look like... Eddie Vedder, there was something about him that you can liken him to like a Roger Daltrey [of The Who] or a Paul Rodgers from Bad Company... and I think that, in a lot of ways, is why they were so popular. There was something about them that felt familiar at the time but was also in tune with the philosophical changes that were going on in '90s Rock."
Listen to the full Rolling Stone Music Now episode above -- now playing on Audacy -- and follow along for more conversations with the writers and editors of Rolling Stone, bringing listeners inside the biggest stories in music.
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