In cleaning up the article I wrote about Vitalogy and Pearl Jam, from 3 years ago, I learned a few things and had a few interesting thoughts I think I should share.
First and foremost: that is terrible writing. But, it was written in two parts on a weblog that I had to be careful on - didn't want to offend any friends, didn't want anyone to know anything I didn't want them to know, but I am a bit of a storyteller, a bit long-winded, and I like to wear my heart on my sleeve.
While the review was reaction to that aforementioned Bill Simmons article on ESPN.com's Page 2, it wasn't my first reaction to it. Prior to that, I wrote a deeply personal account of why I loved Vitalogy so much - because it was, in effect, the soundtrack to my first heartbreak.
Looking back on that blog entry fills me with joy, happiness, sadness, and energy. That fall was an interesting time in my life. I didn't know it yet, but I was about to go on another rollercoaster ride of a relationship, one filled with love, passion, sex, lust, and discovery, and later filled with sadness, hurt, loss, mistrust, and missed opportunities. It's as if I can draw a line from that first big heartbreak to the next, and the next, and the next.
Thing is, there is always a soundtrack - to the heartbreak, and to the love in between and afterwards. Some of those soundtracks haven't stood the test of time - the albums that got me through the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007 aren't bad, but are hardly classics, either. None of the "heartbreak" albums, then, stand up to the test of time, and the internal test of importance and meaning, as Vitalogy does, still today.
The complete, wreckless nature of its sounds, the fury of its lyrics and vocals, to this day fill me with so many emotions, but most of all, energy and hope.
While creating it's own bleak and dark imagery, the album's hope cracks through, like a lighthouse on the shore, a lantern in the dark woods.
While times have changed, my tastes of changed, and I've grown up and grown out of many things, one of the things that remains constant is the emotional impact music has on my life, and in particular how important Vitalogy was to a 15 year old heartbroken kid, a 22 year old heartbroken young adult, and a 26 year old heartbroken young man.
Vitalogy is the lighthouse of hope, visible from where ever you are in the dark waters.
That, Bill Simmons, is why it is the defining album of the 1990's. And why it remains one of my favorite albums ever to this day.