For the week of 4/23/2012…

“Marker in the Sand” by Pearl Jam

This one is from Pearl Jam’s 2006 self-titled album, which I, as an eighth grader, bought together with Ten, thus launching my career as an avid Pearl Jam fan.  In my opinion, their 2006 album is a terrific effort and well worth listening to time and again.  And if I had to point to a favorite track on there, it would have to be… well, I’m not sure, but probably “Marker in the Sand” or “Unemployable.”  Mike McCready is credited with writing the music for both (in the latter case, as a collaboration with Matt Cameron).

I’m convinced that “Marker” is a masterpiece, or at the very least a song with awesome drumming.  Some of it, particularly during the verses, seems pretty complicated; I’m not sure how complicated it actually is, but my general impression as a big fan of both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam is that Matt Cameron is a very talented dude.  Right off the blocks, the drums are clearly driving the song; Cameron’s toms are rumbling under the relatively simple riff and angry lyrics of the first couple of verses, and the instrumental bridge serves as a sort of drummer’s showcase.  I also really like the way Cameron crescendos into the chorus.  Speaking of which, I like the contrast between the verses (fast, dirty riff, angrily howling Vedder) and the chorus (moderate tempo, a pleasantly strummed chord progression, Vedder singing plaintively), as well as the way the lyrics to the chorus are tweaked each time it’s rolled out.  And the way the song ends, starting with the conclusion of the third chorus, is wonderful.  I love this song.

By the way, the lyrics here might come across as kind of preachy, as Eddie Vedder scolds those who wage wars “in God’s name,” presumably encompassing the Bush administration as well as all combatants in the Middle East.  Even though it’s a message song, I really don’t think it’s terribly overbearing; in fact, I think the lyrics are very well-written.  But what’s most critical is that the accompanying music is excellent; that’s what makes this a big step up from some of the stuff on their largely political 2002 album, Riot Act.

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