On May 18, 2017, we lost Chris Cornell. Along with him, we lost new, inspiring work that he would surely bless us with. In addition to his original work, he also performed quite a few breathtaking acoustic covers, one of which was John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Well, I HAVE imagined! I’ve imagined what it would be like if Chris Cornell performed a few of the songs owned by the great band Pearl Jam. In fact, I went back and listened to every Pearl Jam album multiple times, picking out the songs from those albums that I thought Chris would have knocked our socks off with. I came up with this idea one day when I was listening to Do the Evolution (one of the songs in the list below). I thought, “Chris Cornell would be all over this song”, then I thought it would be fun to put this together (and similar lists in the future).
Please understand this is in no way a knock on Eddie Vedder, who is one of my favorite vocalists of all time. I love his voice and I love the way he sings these songs. This piece is just all about honoring Chris. Like Eddie Vedder, there is no other Chris Cornell and never will be.
I didn’t necessarily choose my favorite Pearl Jam songs, although it’s really hard to gauge because I love all of these songs. I mean, come on, I wasn’t going to pick a song I didn’t like, right? Right. These songs move me in some way, whether through the story they tell, the sound they produce, or the feelings they stir up inside of me. Chris Cornell had incredible vocal range, so a few of these songs would give him the opportunity to push that range.
These songs are listed in the order of release date. The album which contains the song is listed in parenthesis.
I can visualize Chris singing this in a some small, intimate setting, much like Eddie Vedder did during MTV Unplugged back in 1992. This is a little song Eddie wrote about his surfboard, in the rain, literally! It’s so cool!
This song about loss would lend Chris the same opportunity, perhaps to sing another song about Andrew Wood, which is essentially what this song was for Wood’s former band mates.
State of Love and Trust (Singles, Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Coincidentally, this is a song about suicide and really just figuring out how to get out your own way in those dark situations. This is one of Pearl Jam’s best songs in my opinion.
Wow, a tragic song about a lady who gives a man refuge only to turn him in. That’s strong. Chris Cornell knew a thing or two about refugees. Chris’s range would be felt quite strongly in this song.
Crazy Mary (Vs)
Can you believe that this chilling song by Victoria Williams is about a woman who lived in a tar paper shack? Well, it is. Actually, it’s about the time a car drove into her shack and killed her! The lyrics, “That which you fear most can meet you half way” sort of speak to you don’t they. Chilling!
This song about being left with nothing after messing up, when you loved someone and they loved you, may be my favorite Pearl Jam song. Chris would have me in tears singing this song, much like Eddie does!
I would love to hear Chris take us all over his vocal range in this beautiful song, that was once mistakenly thought to be about Kurt Cobain, but was actually about Eddie Vedder’s state of mind at the time.
Better Man (Vitalogy)
This popular Pearl Jam song was written by Eddie Vedder when he was a teenager. The song supposedly focuses on Eddie’s mom who remarried a man after Eddie’s biological father passed away.
Off He Goes (No Code)
I relate so well to this song. Eddie wrote it about himself being a lousy friend who would show up when he wanted, then just disappear for long periods. I’ve been that guy before. I love this song!
Present Tense (No Code)
This is a song about forgiving one’s self and not dwelling on the past. Cornell would take us so high into his vocal range. I can literally hear him singing this song to me right now. Chill bumps!
Red Mosquito (No Code)
This is such a creative song! I mean, Eddie Vedder and crew correlate Vedder’s sickness on the Vitalogy tour to the devil. “Red man’s your neighbor”, yes! So creative!
Lukin (No Code)
I could totally hear Soundgarden performing this short number. This song is about a female fan of Vedder’s who thought every song was about her. Some might say it’s sort of Eddie’s “Billy Jean”.
Do the Evolution (Yield)
This intense, fast paced song is about someone who is drunk with technology who thinks they are in control of life on this planet. LOL, yeah, but it’s a great song and Chris would knock our socks off with this number!
Brain of J. (Yield)
This is a song where Pearl Jam exercises some of their liberal mindset. The song is about JFK and the conspiracy surrounding his murder. It’s a cool song though.
World Wide Suicide (Pearl Jam)
This intense song is essentially a protest against the Iraq War and how people have become desensitized to it all and what costs others their lives.
Come Back (Pearl Jam)
This incredibly beautiful song was supposedly written about Johnny Ramone as a gift/tribute for his wife. This song will make you cry.
Just Breathe (Backspacer)
This is a song about just being together, just breathing. It’s about just stopping and feeling each others’ presence. This has Chris Cornell written all over. It tells a great story. It pierces the soul!
Sirens (Lightning Bolt)
I have to admit, this is arguably Pearl Jam’s best song, EVER! This song is about mortality. It’s about living while you’re alive, and living to the day you die, being cognizant of the end, and leading a more appreciative life.
I hope you’ll take some time and listen to these songs. Close your eyes and try to imagine Chris Cornell singing each one. Although, in my opinion, Pearl Jam took a bit of a dip with the Binaural and Riot Act albums, they have bounced back with three of the best albums I’ve heard from any band.