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Rate Tremor Christ
5 Stars: Love it 89%  89%  [ 32 ]
4 Stars: Like it 8%  8%  [ 3 ]
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 Post subject: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Fri December 28, 2012 6:59 pm 
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old thread archived here
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Tremor Christ is a classic, an amazing song that often gets forgotten soley because it is surrounded by so many other greats. It’s also the song I feel like I have the least of a handle on of everything that is on Vitalogy, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of you come up with.

For me Vitalogy is an album about redemption and salvation in the face of corruption. I'm not going to say too much about it since I've talked about Vitalogy in the Last Exit and Corduroy threads, and I'll probably say it all again when we eventually get to Immortality. The primary story arc of the record deals with finding that salvation through music and the ways in which an overly commodified, inauthentic, superficial industry threatens to undermine that redemption. But some of the other songs on the records address the same battle for salvation, but instead of art there is the corruption of love by the same forces. Betterman and Nothingman both fit into this category, but lyrically and in terms of its connection to the rest of the album, Tremor Christ is the more important song (even though I like the other two more). The same promise of the easy, cost free, instantly gratifying reward that destroys art also destroys love, and threatens to destroy love. The jagged music and weary, yet sharp, vocals do a great job evoking the stormy, shipwrecked feel of the song.

The two dominant images/metaphors in this song are the ocean, and the spiritual/supernatural. There are times Eddie overdoes the water imagery, but here it works perfectly. Water gives life and takes it away, it is fluid and ultimately beyond our control, but if we’re careful, and lucky, we can bend it to our will, at least temporarily. There is a blend of skill and chance that does a nice job coloring the rest of the song. The singer in Tremor Christ is lost at sea, at the mercy of the waves, of life, of temptation, and of loss.

The spiritual imagery also is nicely used here. We hope for angels but we know we have to expect the devil. We want to stay clean, but we know the world will try and make us dirty. We know we must prepare for sacrifice but are always willing to sell out for ease. We hope for the best but always have to prepare for the worst. In the end what we need to overcome the devil' temptation is faith in love, in ourselves, in each other, and in the belief that something pure can exist in this world. Tremor Christ is a tentative declaration of faith. Vitalogy is far too searching, honest, and dark album for Eddie to claim he's found it, and there is the realization that he may be too far gone to receive it. Too many sacrifices were made, too many promises broken. Nevertheless, there is a grim determination at the end to accept responsibility for mistakes that have been made and to keep on looking for salvation.

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 Post subject: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 9:49 am 
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I need to post the lyrics in order to refresh everyone's memory and because it would also be necessary to have them at hand for what I am about to ask and discuss:

Winded is the sailor, he's drifted by the storm.
Wounded is the organ he left all bloodied on the shore.
Gorgeous was his savior, sees her drowning in his wake.
Daily tastes the salt of her tears, but a chance blamed fate.

Little secrets, tremors, turn to quake.
Smallest oceans still get big, big waves.

Ransom paid [to] the Devil. He whispers pleasing words.
Triumphant are the angels if they can get their first.

Little secrets, tremors, turn to quake.
Smallest oceans still get big, big waves.

I'll decide, take the dive.
Take my time, not my life.
Wait for signs, believe in lies
To get by - it's divine.
Oh, you know what it's like.

Turns the bow back, tows in, drops the line.
Puts his faith and love in Tremor Christ.


OK, I hope I got these right minus some minor inaccuracies which I don't think will be important in this discussion. Since I find this board to be full of knowledgeable people, I thought there'd be no better place to ask about something that's been bugging me for a long long time. It is widely known that PJ is an atheist band. Any reference they make to "God" is usually in a non-religious sense but either in a figurative sense or, if literal, in a critical sense. This can be further asserted by the lyrics in their latest single: words like "self realized", "may not live another life", "may not solve our mystery", "around the corner could be bigger than ourselves" - are all direct hits taken at dogmatic postulates of the Church concerning origin of life, afterlife, egocentric position of humans as THE most important beings in the Universe and a general disregard of the billions of billions of other worlds and exo-solar systems as a mere decoration, a backdrop to the main stage of existance which is Earth.

My question is how does "Tremor Christ" fit in here? What is the meaning of it in general? It is neither critisism nor an allegory. It seems to use the words "Christ", "saviour", "Devil", "angels" in their literal sense as if aknowledging their existance. As much as I love this song, it's lyrics seem conflicting with so many things that are about this band for me. The other songs on "Vitalogy" touch on the subject in a strictly critical way or as a form of sarcasm. A little earlier than "Vitalogy", let's remember, there were lines that plainly said "the man above never showed him anything... and never will!" Considering all this "Tremor Christ" really leaves me scratching my head. So please share your thoughts, any input will be appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 10:04 am 
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May I suggest you start at the old Song of the Moment thread.....

http://forums.theskyiscrape.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=264&hilit=tremor+christ

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:10 am 
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So maybe 'Sirens' is Tremor Christ 2 :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:23 am 
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harmless wrote:
So maybe 'Sirens' is Tremor Christ 2 :shock:



I'd be down with that. :heartbeat:
I always thought force of nature was Tremor Christs lame tag along cousin. Go away force of nature no one wants to play with you.

As for tremor christ itself I've got nothing, I figured the devil/ angels were more metaphorical than anything and that ' faith in tremor christ' was faith in something he knows isn't solid, possibly on the verge of collapse if he thinks about it or pokes at it too much but he needs faith in something to keep going so he just goes with it. I don't whether he's talking about religion itself though.

Most of this probably came from the old sotm thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:26 am 
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These are the types of questions that should asked in the SOTM threads instead of starting a new thread.

Dear new RM users, may I suggest the search function at the top of the page before you start a new thread? Or the Pearl Jam chat index. Thank you.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:37 am 
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This is one of my favorites and we should talk about it here.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:39 am 
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Thanks. I have been trying to do a merge on the iPad and it wasn't working

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:40 am 
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It's a 5 star song that I still have no idea what it is about.

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:43 am 
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E.H. Ruddock wrote:
These are the types of questions that should asked in the SOTM threads instead of starting a new thread.

Dear new RM users, may I suggest the search function at the top of the page before you start a new thread? Or the Pearl Jam chat index. Thank you.

Me sorry!
Bad, bad new user.
Delete it if you can please

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:44 am 
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harmless wrote:
So maybe 'Sirens' is Tremor Christ 2 :shock:
If "Sirens" is supposedly what we heard in the London soundcheck, than I see where you are coming from. It has the same chopped shredding structure in the verses.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:45 am 
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They are largely using angel/devil, etc. as metaphors, not specific references to religion. Te tremor Christ line is a great phrase that is much easier to understand when you break it down. Uncertain salvation. Holding out for the possibility of redemption but not having the promise of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:46 am 
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Lounge Lizard wrote:
E.H. Ruddock wrote:
These are the types of questions that should asked in the SOTM threads instead of starting a new thread.

Dear new RM users, may I suggest the search function at the top of the page before you start a new thread? Or the Pearl Jam chat index. Thank you.

Me sorry!
Bad, bad new user.
Delete it if you can please

No was just pointing out our handy search function so we can avoid having multiple threads created for the same thought like over at the Pit.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:50 am 
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Fuck. I just wrote an answer for the other thread and it got deleted. Here it is again:

A lot of Christians talk of Christ as their 'solid rock'. There's that old Reformation hymn which goes: 'On Christ the solid rock I stand / All other ground is sinking sand.' Tremor Christ might be the version of Christ (or belief in him) that is always threatening to fall through, and is ultimately not solid, and not trustworthy to be Ed's only 'anchor' for his faith.

Little secrets, tremors, turn to quake.
Smallest oceans still get big, big waves.


I can relate to this. The 'little secrets, tremors', the 'smallest oceans' are the little voices inside you which say that maybe, just maybe, 'God' doesn't exist and that 'God' is just a shorthand for everything good about the world. Maybe you could drop God and everything would still be OK. Those little inklings in the mind can eventually 'turn to quake', and those 'smallest oceans' of doubt can sometimes get huge waves of crisis. There's that Bible story about Jesus in a boat with his disciples calming the storm by speaking to it, and this might be a stretch, but there might be a subversion of that here (Doubt -- or Tremor Christ -- is speaking, whispering secrets). There's also a story in which Elijah (I think? Can someone confirm this?) is speaking to God, and his answer doesn't come in the fire, or the earthquake, but in a 'still small voice'. Maybe this Tremor Christ is the God that speaks in the quake.

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:53 am 
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Lounge Lizard wrote:
It is widely known that PJ is an atheist band.


Is this widely known. I always got the impression that there is some sort of universal spirit type belief system going on. Can't really identify why I think this but it is the impression I have always had.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:55 am 
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harmless wrote:
Fuck. I just wrote an answer for the other thread and it got deleted. Here it is again:

A lot of Christians talk of Christ as their 'solid rock'. There's that old Reformation hymn which goes: 'On Christ the solid rock I stand / All other ground is sinking sand.' Tremor Christ might be the version of Christ (or belief in him) that is always threatening to fall through, and is ultimately not solid, and not trustworthy to be Ed's only 'anchor' for his faith.

Little secrets, tremors, turn to quake.
Smallest oceans still get big, big waves.


I can relate to this. The 'little secrets, tremors', the 'smallest oceans' are the little voices inside you which say that maybe, just maybe, 'God' doesn't exist and that 'God' is just a shorthand for everything good about the world. Maybe you could drop God and everything would still be OK. Those little inklings in the mind can eventually 'turn to quake', and those 'smallest oceans' of doubt can sometimes get huge waves of crisis. There's that Bible story about Jesus in a boat with his disciples calming the storm by speaking to it, and this might be a stretch, but there might be a subversion of that here (Doubt -- or Tremor Christ -- is speaking, whispering secrets). There's also a story in which Elijah (I think? Can someone confirm this?) is speaking to God, and his answer doesn't come in the fire, or the earthquake, but in a 'still small voice'. Maybe this Tremor Christ is the God that speaks in the quake.



God wrote:
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:55 am 
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That makes sense, harmless, although I've always thought of tremor christ in the context of vitalogy's grappling with the commodification of art. This is from the guided tour thread
Quote:
There is a lot going on in Vitalogy but one of the main themes playing itself out is the desire for purity in the face of corruption—a desire for the salvation of music, and the salvation of self in a world where both are threatened, perverted, distorted (I’ve long felt Red Mosquito needs to be on Vitalogy, as it is addressing these same themes).

RM poster SLH has made the argument that Not For You should be seen as working itself out over time, rather than capturing a particular moment—and her interpretation makes a great deal of sense segueing into Tremor Christ. It picks up in the aftermath of a metaphorical shipwreck and while the song is exhausted you can cut yourself on its jagged sounds and sharp vocals. Musically Tremor Christ does a wonderful job evoking the stormy feel of the song. The subject had succumbed to the superficial ease of temptation, the promise of reward without cost. Slight surrenders of principle, seemingly innocuous decisions quickly spiral out of control. The smallest oceans still get big big waves. It turns out that there was a steep price after all, demanding payment in terms of lost love, lost innocence, lost purity. Both the art and the artist suffer for the easy choices, for the refusal to see the hidden price of playing the game instead of choosing to move Sisyphus’s rock. We’re left with an exhausted artist, passion bleeding itself dry, and the emancipatory promise of the music drowning in the wake left by the industry.

The second verse, chronologically, comes before the first one—it’s a flashback of sorts, what happened to the subject that lead to him washed up on the shore. The Devil is seductive, and it is rare for the angels to reach an artist before they’ve accepted his bargain, to let him know exactly what is at stake. We can hope for angels but if we’re honest with ourselves we know it is going we’re going to have to learn to fight the devils (this theme returns in Corduroy and Satan’s Bed).

While the subject is wounded, he isn’t dead yet. The second half of the song is a fighting creed, a declaration to resist, to forgo temptation and endure hardship, to do what is necessary to regain control over his soul, the only prize the devil ever seeks. And the song ends with the eerily calm determination to turn the boat back to the water, enter the waves and prepare to fight, with nothing on his side but faith in love (love of music, love as meaningful attachment and solidarity, love as purity), and the knowledge that the struggle itself has meanings. The liner notes of Not For You intimate that Eddie has at least a passing familiarity with Albert Camus, and this really starts to play itself out in the moments of defiance on Vitalogy (here, Whipping, and Corduroy). There is never any guarantee, or even expectation of victory, but it is the fight that preserves our humanity. There is no promise that he’ll find what he is looking for, and in fact he may be too far gone to be redeemed, but he is willing to accept responsibility for the mistakes made, and he is willing to keep searching for the possibility of a wavering, uncertain salvation (tremor Christ). Since that is all we can have, it will have to be enough.


but this is a very well written song and so this one, more than most, can work on a few levels.

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 Post subject: Re: Tremor Christ: Whats and Whys
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:58 am 
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NancyBabich wrote:
Lounge Lizard wrote:
It is widely known that PJ is an atheist band.


Is this widely known. I always got the impression that there is some sort of universal spirit type belief system going on. Can't really identify why I think this but it is the impression I have always had.


It is widely thought that PJ are an atheist band, but people will read what they like into the songs and there's a huge contingent of atheists in the PJ fan base. What I know is that they're at the very least an agnostic band, and they are no fan of religion, especially fundamentalism and its associated power, prejudice and borderline fascism. Plenty of Christians would side with them on this, and I don't think they would feel their faith was being attacked by Ed. He's not an enemy of progressive faith, just the unthinking stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:58 am 
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The lines:

Ransom paid [to] the Devil, he whispers pleasing words.
Triumphant are the angels if they can get there first


are clearly about the temptations that every individual faces, with faith being the only limiting force to keep one's virtue and purity. This is in full compliance with the teachings of Christianity. I have a problem with that, because the scriptures/revelations/suras/whatever are definitely not a sourse of true morality...

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Tremor Christ
PostPosted: Wed July 24, 2013 11:59 am 
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NancyBabich wrote:
harmless wrote:
Fuck. I just wrote an answer for the other thread and it got deleted. Here it is again:

A lot of Christians talk of Christ as their 'solid rock'. There's that old Reformation hymn which goes: 'On Christ the solid rock I stand / All other ground is sinking sand.' Tremor Christ might be the version of Christ (or belief in him) that is always threatening to fall through, and is ultimately not solid, and not trustworthy to be Ed's only 'anchor' for his faith.

Little secrets, tremors, turn to quake.
Smallest oceans still get big, big waves.


I can relate to this. The 'little secrets, tremors', the 'smallest oceans' are the little voices inside you which say that maybe, just maybe, 'God' doesn't exist and that 'God' is just a shorthand for everything good about the world. Maybe you could drop God and everything would still be OK. Those little inklings in the mind can eventually 'turn to quake', and those 'smallest oceans' of doubt can sometimes get huge waves of crisis. There's that Bible story about Jesus in a boat with his disciples calming the storm by speaking to it, and this might be a stretch, but there might be a subversion of that here (Doubt -- or Tremor Christ -- is speaking, whispering secrets). There's also a story in which Elijah (I think? Can someone confirm this?) is speaking to God, and his answer doesn't come in the fire, or the earthquake, but in a 'still small voice'. Maybe this Tremor Christ is the God that speaks in the quake.



God wrote:
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?


:thumbsup:

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