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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Tue June 25, 2013 4:00 pm 
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I ve always loved Off He Goes...lyrically and musically is Pearl Jam at their finest.
I loved what Eddie had to say about this one; about him being a shitty friend or someone who can be present sometimes for his loved ones but he wont be able to stick around much; he wont be able to really connect with those people more.
The limits we, as individuals, sometimes have with the other ones we adore is one of the themes of No Code, and in Off he goes he is blaming himself for that.

Neil Young´s influence is the most obvious one, not only on this song but on the whole record, but his presence stands out in this one a lot; specially in the guitars and Ed´s voice.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Tue June 25, 2013 9:43 pm 
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Off He Goes never really had the issue to me of being off-putting because it's all about Eddie. There's not really anything in here that ties it to Eddie's specific experiences, in terms of grappling with fame, etc. Vitalogy has much more of that. If not for interviews that made that connection blatant, I wouldn't have had much reason to consider it.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Tue June 25, 2013 9:57 pm 
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Musically one of their best.

I've always identified very strongly with these lyrics. Maybe more than any other PJ song.

The song isn't putting up a barrier. the song is about someone with barriers.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Tue June 25, 2013 11:24 pm 
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digster wrote:
Off He Goes never really had the issue to me of being off-putting because it's all about Eddie. There's not really anything in here that ties it to Eddie's specific experiences, in terms of grappling with fame, etc. Vitalogy has much more of that. If not for interviews that made that connection blatant, I wouldn't have had much reason to consider it.


My experience too. I had so much tied into this song by the time I learned what it was "supposed" to be about I didn't even care what Eddie's intended meaning was.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 12:05 am 
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I really love the piano in "Off He Goes".

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 12:15 am 
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And the tone of Mike's electric leads. This song and "Around the Bend" are the only songs I can think of where he sounds like that. He should sound like that more often.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 12:20 am 
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Kevin Davis wrote:
And the tone of Mike's electric leads. This song and "Around the Bend" are the only songs I can think of where he sounds like that. He should sound like that more often.

yeah its strange that its the only songs he sound like that on. Its really great.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 2:23 am 
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BurtReynolds wrote:
Kevin Davis wrote:
And the tone of Mike's electric leads. This song and "Around the Bend" are the only songs I can think of where he sounds like that. He should sound like that more often.

yeah its strange that its the only songs he sound like that on. Its really great.


Stupid great. Like, "this is a rehearsal and I'm not gonna dick around with finding the perfect tone" great.

Really, the guitar tones on No Code generally have an ongoing tendency to be spectacularly, perfectly wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 1:00 pm 
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Kevin Davis wrote:
digster wrote:
Off He Goes never really had the issue to me of being off-putting because it's all about Eddie. There's not really anything in here that ties it to Eddie's specific experiences, in terms of grappling with fame, etc. Vitalogy has much more of that. If not for interviews that made that connection blatant, I wouldn't have had much reason to consider it.


My experience too. I had so much tied into this song by the time I learned what it was "supposed" to be about I didn't even care what Eddie's intended meaning was.



I understand that I am the outlier on this, but really from the very beginning Off he Goes really felt alienating to me as a listener. I think the music is lovely, and I adore Vitalogy so it's not necessarily even the content. I think it's always felt a bit too, I don't know, staged, artificial, precious. I'm not sure. It just has this air of self-indulgence that rubs me the wrong way. But I've basically never liked this song.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 2:01 pm 
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Off He Goes has always been one of my favorite PJ tunes. Perfect song for driving on a long open road in the country. I always heard the Neil Young influence in it, but it wasn't until years later that someone pointed out the direct nod to Unknown Legend.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Wed June 26, 2013 2:26 pm 
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stip wrote:
I think it's always felt a bit too, I don't know, staged, artificial, precious. I'm not sure. It just has this air of self-indulgence that rubs me the wrong way.


Using the "correct" interpretation of the song, it's almost certainly all of those things. The whole idea of singing a song about yourself in third person is itself pretty precious--though admittedly at the time of No Code's release, when I was 13, I probably would have found it deep and clever.

I had a lot of friendships over the years turn out the way Eddie describes the "friendship" in this song, so for years it never even occurred to me that it could be about anything else. And I think the same thing that comes across as compassion, as empathy, in a song about an interpersonal relationship can very easily come across as self-pity in a song about an intrapersonal one. So even though my experience with the song has been different, I can definitely understand why you'd feel about the lyrics the way you do. I think the music and recording are still sublime, though.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 10:15 am 
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It's funny when people try to deeply analyze lyrics that are stolen from another band and practically meaningless outside of being a tribute. (Smile)


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 10:18 am 
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yup. that is funny.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 10:27 am 
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I know the Frogs story, and Smile is a simple song, but every piece of art is coming from a particular head space. The lyrics came from someplace. But why does Eddie sing them the way he does? Why does the music sound like it does? How do they reinforce or oppose each other? Smile sounds like a very tender love song, but it's actually about friendship. There's a singer with a masculine voice singing a feminine sounding song expressing traditionally feminine feelings (with similar imagery) that was inspired by a relationship with a male friend---although I suspect everyone who first heard it without knowing that story assumed it was about a girl. Simple words, and a known backstory, but that doesn't mean there isn't more going on underneath.


Something can be complex underneath its simplicity, or that the musical context of a song can play against the first impression of a simple lyric, or that the songs that surround it on an album can alter or enhance or change its meaning.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Off He Goes
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 10:28 am 
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Habit

There are a few songs on No Code that feel out of place to me. Habit is one. It’s not that it is a bad song. It’s just that it doesn’t fit. This is a record about accepting limitations---your own and others. It urges you to make peace with yourself and the world . It’s not that it says don’t fight, or refuse to change. But it reminds you that crashing headfirst into barriers you can’t change is exhausting, and probably counterproductive. Which is exactly what Habit is about. So unless Habit is meant to be a step back--a reminder of what hasn’t worked--I’m not sure why it is here. Perhaps that is why Eddie sings the way he does. You scream the way he screams when you aren’t interested in dialogue. Maybe he is trying to drown this song out (the message, anyway).

The riff is heavy, brash, almost petulant. It’s one of the better punk riffs, and is an excellent platform for a self righteous and extremely judgmental set of lyrics (alongside a grating chorus), and a vocal performance that shrieks itself hoarse, and almost entirely abandons the empathy that defines Eddie’s best (and average work) for something that is frankly just a little obnoxious. Digster noted earlier that Eddie rarely screams on this record, and it is telling that the places where he does are also the songs that are most at odds with the album itself.

Basically Habit is the musical equivalent of the first time a newly minted atheist reads Bertrand Russell’s ‘Why I Am Not A Christian’ This is not a song about being happy with your righteous self. It is a song about judging those who have the audacity not to copy your righteousness.

Save You, in a lot of ways, is probably the song that Habit should have been, at least in the context of this album. Save You has the same singer confronting weakness, but the frustration in that song is from vulnerability that comes from investing yourself in someone else’s life and the fear that it’s all for nothing. Habit is its narcissistic cousin, for whom weakness in others becomes a way to revel in your own reflected strength.

All of this makes the ‘speaking as a child of the 90s’ lyric particularly obnoxious. It’s not a good line to begin with (forgivable perhaps, for the Against the 70s call back), but if you are going to peg yourself as a spokeschild for the 90s there were better songs with better messages to do that with. It could just be tongue in cheek, but if it is I’m not sure what the song is satirizing. Maybe the earnestness of the times? That’s a possibility, but if so it’s also maybe a bit out of place on what is an understated but still extremely earnest album.

The ending outro, which is a great piece of music and the highlight of the song, simply reinforces the lack of empathy and moral complexity in the song itself. It is loud, violent, cacophonous, but oddly self serving. It draws no conclusions. It offers no new directions. It’s a musical affirmation of an angry and judgmental superiority

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Habit
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 4:28 pm 
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My disdain for this song is well documented around RM. I'll start by reminding everyone of that. I really think this song is big, fat, miss.

Stip, question: I know you're whole thesis for this thread, for this guided tour, is that the album "urges you to make peace with yourself and the world . It’s not that it says don’t fight, or refuse to change. But it reminds you that crashing headfirst into barriers you can’t change is exhausting, and probably counterproductive." But then you say Habit doesn't fit because it doesn't abide by those rules. So, then isn't it possible that your thesis is wrong? Maybe that's not what this album is all about. When you're writing these threads, exploring and examining and raising discussion, do you ever change your own mind?

Thing is, I don't like Habit. But I also wouldn't say that it doesn't fit the album, it's just a bad song. I don't know. It just feels a bit like your shoving a square peg into a round hole here.

Finally, to me, the "speaking as a child of the 90s" is so tongue in cheek that the tongue gets bitten off and swallowed. I don't think he's pegging himself as a spokeschild of the 90s as much as he's spitting the bitter absurdity of it out of his mouth.

Good write up as usual. I love that you do these things. And I love the discussions.


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Habit
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 4:38 pm 
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I've wondered about that and it is entirely possible that I am either wrong about Habit (I'll make a similar argument with Lukin in a few days--even mankind) or wrong about the album as a whole. If someone else has a larger meta story that integrates it I'd love to hear it. What do you think?

I don't think pearl jam sits down to write concept albums per se. But I think Eddie tends to really have one big idea in mind (something he's working through at the time) when he writes, and this gets reflected in the album as a whole. I think the albums end up being cohesive without necessarily being planned that way. But there may always be outlier songs written and included that don't fit (which is why retracking threads are interesting to me). I doubt there was a sign in the warehouse that said "No Code is about X and if it doesn't fit that theme we have to cut it from the album"--although they've made that decision before.

When songs don't fit, however, it tends to not be the sound of the song so much as the feel of the song, and so (again I don't think there is necessarily intentionality here) including the songs may be justifiable in terms of the contrast.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Habit
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 4:39 pm 
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durdencommatyler wrote:
Finally, to me, the "speaking as a child of the 90s" is so tongue in cheek that the tongue gets bitten off and swallowed. I don't think he's pegging himself as a spokeschild of the 90s as much as he's spitting the bitter absurdity of it out of his mouth.



that makes sense. Kind of a random aside though.

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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Habit
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 4:45 pm 
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stip wrote:
I've wondered about that and it is entirely possible that I am either wrong about Habit (I'll make a similar argument with Lukin in a few days--even mankind) or wrong about the album as a whole. If someone else has a larger meta story that integrates it I'd love to hear it. What do you think?

I don't think pearl jam sits down to write concept albums per se. But I think Eddie tends to really have one big idea in mind (something he's working through at the time) when he writes, and this gets reflected in the album as a whole. I think the albums end up being cohesive without necessarily being planned that way. But there may always be outlier songs written and included that don't fit (which is why retracking threads are interesting to me). I doubt there was a sign in the warehouse that said "No Code is about X and if it doesn't fit that theme we have to cut it from the album"--although they've made that decision before.

When songs don't fit, however, it tends to not be the sound of the song so much as the feel of the song, and so (again I don't think there is necessarily intentionality here) including the songs may be justifiable in terms of the contrast.

I think contrast probably has something to do with it. But also just mental headspace or where a given member is emotionally. Sometimes you just need to get it off your chest, as you know.

No, I don't have a larger meta story for the album. I'm not sure there really is one. But I like the search for one. I'm not saying you're wrong, necessarily. I'm just curious what happens to you and your process when you encounter these "outliers." At some point, at least for me, when I see them, I have to wonder if my initial ideas or concepts are/were accurate.

Also, while I do agree that Ed does tend to circle themes in his mind (especially as he's gotten away from storytelling songs like Jeremy, Small Town and Better Man), we can't just look at Eddie. Buy this point other band members are writing lyrics. So it's not entirely up to him. Or do you imagine Ed and Stone (for example) talked at length about the lyrics to Mankind?


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 Post subject: Re: A Guided Tour of No Code: Habit
PostPosted: Thu June 27, 2013 4:46 pm 
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stip wrote:
durdencommatyler wrote:
Finally, to me, the "speaking as a child of the 90s" is so tongue in cheek that the tongue gets bitten off and swallowed. I don't think he's pegging himself as a spokeschild of the 90s as much as he's spitting the bitter absurdity of it out of his mouth.



that makes sense. Kind of a random aside though.

Maybe. It depends on who the song is about. Or what specifically inspired him to write it, maybe. Again, it could all just be his headspace at the time they recorded it.

We'll know for sure how important it is when the No Code Box comes out. If Ed hates it, I'm sure the "remastered" version will cut it. :P


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