While trudging through a relatively productive work day yesterday, I came across a site that crashed my productivity like a jaeger bombed chimp in an F1 racecar. I have been a Pearl Jam
obsessed nut fan for 18 years. I love this band. Let me introduce to all our THF readers……More Than Ten. This is the most complete catalog, review, breakdown, and journal of sorts of Every. Single. Pearl Jam. Song. We’re talking all the studio tracks, b-sides, covers, rarities, all of it. Now a little about the author, Michael, in his own words:
Michael (aka Corduroy13) lives in the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts, and works in higher education, and serving beer at a local pub. He is also a musician/songwriter who taught songwriting classes out in Chicago for a couple of years before moving east. He is a devout Boston sports fans, and is currently nursing a sore, sore heart after Super Bowl 42.
I asked Michael for an interview, here’s what he had to say:
THF: What prompted you to take on this endeavor?
More Than Ten: I somehow stumbled upon Matthew Perpetuaâ€™s Pop Songs blog, which is a song-by-song analysis of the entire R.E.M. catalog. After a few moments of jealousy for the idea, I thought it would be fun to tackle Pearl Jam. Those two bands were immensely important to me in high school, and Iâ€™ve been somewhat of a completist of their work ever since.
THF: Did you create this body of work primarily for yourself or close friends, or have you made its presence known in the Pearl Jam community?
More Than Ten: It was mostly for myself, to see if I could do it, as a writing exercise, and to discover how I felt about Pearl Jamâ€™s music objectively, what specifically it was in the bandâ€™s writing and performance that drew me in in the first place, and kept being of interest for the better part of two decades. I did advertise the blog a little bit on Pearl Jam fan sites, which I think drew some regular readers and commenters, but the threads on those sites never went too far.
THF: Did you draw any inspiration for More Than Ten from other PJ fan-sites, such as The Sky I Scrape, Two Feet Thick (concert chronology), etcâ€¦.
More Than Ten: I love those sites, and used to participate quite a bit on the boards for a number of years (and Five Horizons, etc., all the way back to Lukin and the Porch in the mid- to late-â€˜90s). I think the idea of in-depth Concert Chronologies was certainly inspirational. I love that kind of obsessive, number-crunching nerdiness where people graph how many times certain songs have been played on certain tours, etc.
As far as the music criticism found on message boards, Iâ€™ve always been a little disappointed with the depth of peopleâ€™s self-examination of their feelings on the music. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s really interesting to read that the same songs suck or rule over and over again. I donâ€™t necessarily need any kind of agreement or disagreement with my opinions to feel a sense of kinship with Pearl Jam fans or anyone else. So one of the goals I set for myself with â€œMore Than Tenâ€ was to try and keep as objective as possible. And when I had to be subjective, or relate a personal connection to a song, to keep that as tethered as possible to specifics in the songwriting.
THF: Have you ever been recognized by anyone as the author of More Than Ten?
More Than Ten: No. I donâ€™t know where I would be!
THF: Plug your blog: Why do you think people read it? (better yet, why do you know people read it?)
More Than Ten: Well, I know people have read it because I installed a hit counter, and because there was a very steady cabal of 5-10 regular commenters who got really into it, and who really inspired me to keep going and finish it. I would hope people read it who are looking for the same kinds of things that I do in music criticism. I think all artists should be judged by how successful they are at what theyâ€™re attempting to do, rather than because of their style or image or genre, etc. Each song should also be judged this way. What was Pearl Jam trying to achieve with the choices they made all throughout the process of creating and performing a given song, and if that can be figured out (always a guess, of course), howâ€™d they do? So much of that comes down to opinions, but by examining the concrete details, I think thereâ€™s a lot to be learned.
THF: How long have you been a Pearl Jam fanatic? Or, to put it better, when did you say to yourself: â€œholy shit, these guys are absolutely amazing!â€
More Than Ten: Pretty much from the first time I heard them. When I was in junior high in 1991/1992, I lived in a rural area, and listened to a lot of hip-hop because it was different, and because all the other kids listened to hair metal and Aerosmith and other crap I couldnâ€™t relate to. My best friend happened to tape â€œEven Flowâ€ and Temple of the Dogâ€™s â€œHunger Strikeâ€ off of MTV and showed me the videos, and I just thought that it was the first rock music that didnâ€™t sound stupid or sexist or scary. It sounded important, strong, and intelligent. And of course, Edâ€™s voice sounded fucking cool.
THF: How many monkeys can you fit in a barrel of rum?
More Than Ten: If youâ€™re using standard weights and measures, not very many. One rum barrel does not convert easily to a unit monkey storage, so most enthusiasts just give up. But roughly, itâ€™s the same as the amount of pancakes it takes to cover a doghouse.
THF: If youâ€™re like me, your PJ fandom is at the ridiculous level where your love for and knowledge of the band, their music, performances, and overall existence is borderline annoying to those close to you who do not share the same passion. Would you say this is true?
More Than Ten: I keep it to myself mostly, but some friends and coworkers have learned bit by bit the depth of my fandom. Either theyâ€™ve seen my bootleg collection, or noticed me browsing websites, and some know that I did the blog, but no oneâ€™s given me any flack for it, at least to my face.
THF: When / where was the first Pearl Jam show you attended?
More Than Ten: It was the 2nd night at Great Woods, 9/16/1998, featuring the famous quarter rant.**
THF: Favorite / best youâ€™ve ever seen?
More Than Ten: This is tough. Probably that show, because it was my first, and because they played songs like â€œI Got Shitâ€ and â€œHabitâ€. Although I got to hear â€œUnemployableâ€ in 2006, so that was a treat.
THF: Have you ever met any of the members of Pearl Jam (yes, Boom Gasper counts)? If so, what were he / they like?
More Than Ten: I havenâ€™t actually. Iâ€™ve met and interviewed a lot of my musical heroes for publications, and after shows (Vic Chesnutt, Andrew Bird, Iron & Wine, Jason Molina) and I always feel awkward and terrified, so I donâ€™t know how Iâ€™d do. Though Iâ€™d love to produce or co-write with any member of the band someday. Thatâ€™s my ultimate rock nerd fantasy.
So go check this site out, I highly reccomend this body of work, it’s a great read for the everday all the way to borderline obsessed PJ fan!! You will not be dissappointed. From all of us here at THF, thank you Michael!
**Editor’s note: I was also at the 2nd Boston show in ’98, with the famous ‘quarter rant.’ Leave a comment if you would like to obtain a copy of this show**