Make me fries. Potato wave!
May 25, 2007 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam. I've always wondered what that song was about. Who knew it was about Bennigan's, Anna Nicole and icy democrats? (Yep: SLYTP.)
posted by miss lynnster (59 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Awesome. I've never once understood the words to this, even as it remains my favorite Pearl Jam song. I think the title is as incomprehensible as it is because the lyrics are meant to be meaningless. It's just moving music.

That doesn't make it any less pretentious, but I still like it.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:27 PM on May 25, 2007


God I hate pearl jam. But I like miss lynnster. funny post.
posted by vronsky at 11:27 PM on May 25, 2007


whale in a bag
posted by acro at 11:27 PM on May 25, 2007


Mondegreen!
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:41 PM on May 25, 2007


It's a good song, but the opening riffs always remind me of Little Wing by Hendrix and they seem a little bit too close.

That's probably just me though.
posted by purephase at 11:41 PM on May 25, 2007


I was kinda chuckling mildly until the sudden "Make me fries", which just plain cracked me up.

purephase writes "the opening riffs always remind me of Little Wing by Hendrix and they seem a little bit too close."

At first, I thought the guy who made the video was using Little Wings as the background music for the opening credits, until Vedder's voice came in.
posted by Bugbread at 11:47 PM on May 25, 2007


Greatest. Youtube. Post. Ever.
posted by frogan at 11:48 PM on May 25, 2007


Huh. Just noticed that in the photo montage part in the middle with the guitarist, and then again at the end after Vedder has zoomed out, there is a single frame intercut of Jimi Hendrix.
posted by Bugbread at 11:52 PM on May 25, 2007


For those in the dark, Yellow Ledbetter is notoriously mumbly, and the lyrics have been in debate for quite some time now. There's even a Wikipedia article on (which summarizes it quite succinctly).
posted by spiderskull at 11:55 PM on May 25, 2007


Yellow Ledbetter = Talk is Cheap.

Also, I'm comforted by the fact that Eddie Vedder rolled his jeans right about the time I was doing the same.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:05 AM on May 26, 2007


Lyrics-freak website
posted by acro at 12:34 AM on May 26, 2007


This Fallout Boy interpretation is the first one of these I ever saw, and it's still fairly funny.
posted by maxwelton at 1:06 AM on May 26, 2007


The picture of the Make me fries girl alone was worth it.
posted by OrangeDrink at 1:14 AM on May 26, 2007


Awesome. I agree with OrangeDrink, "make me fries" was the best part.

Man, I never liked Pearl Jam much back in the day, but what I wouldn't give to have them back on the radio now instead of the current crap... (Hell, I'd even settle for the Offspring, or Third Eye Blind.)
posted by equalpants at 1:42 AM on May 26, 2007


the opening riffs always remind me of Little Wing by Hendrix and they seem a little bit too close.

A lot of what Mike McCready played in the early days (before he found his own voice) is very much borrowed from Hendrix, and only from a small handful of songs. The lead riffs from Deep, Even Flow and Alive are all pretty much lifted from various parts of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).
posted by psmealey at 4:11 AM on May 26, 2007


what I wouldn't give to have them back on the radio now instead of the current crap

Even if it meant also having to put with the Stone Temple Pilots, Silverchair and (ugh) Bush?
posted by psmealey at 4:24 AM on May 26, 2007


Reminds me of this little flash animation of Lebetter, although I think it differs from the version I first saw.
posted by caddis at 4:55 AM on May 26, 2007


Even if it meant also having to put with the Stone Temple Pilots, Silverchair and (ugh) Bush?

Yes.

My god, have you heard what they've done to "Breakfast in America" ? (Youtube, Terrible noise)

Back on Point, I can remember more than a few drunken arguments over what this song is about. Nice to see that there is no definitive answer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:42 AM on May 26, 2007


God I hate pearl jam.

Your least favorite band rocks.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:54 AM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


My god, have you heard what they've done to "Breakfast in America" ? (Youtube, Terrible noise)

Fuck. I just realized the music I like is popular.

I think I'll go shoot myself now.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:57 AM on May 26, 2007


A lot of what Mike McCready played in the early days (before he found his own voice) is very much borrowed from Hendrix, and only from a small handful of songs. The lead riffs from Deep, Even Flow and Alive are all pretty much lifted from various parts of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).

I'm pretty sure you can say this for damn near every solo in 37 years since Hendrix's death. It's less about what you use than how you use it, in all forms of art. :)

Now, back on subject:

The "make me fries" bit absolutely killed me, mostly because even after I read the thread comments and knew it was coming, it still caught me off-guard.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:15 AM on May 26, 2007


Except for maybe, like, a Deathklok solo.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:16 AM on May 26, 2007


Oh for fuck's sake. Dethklok. I give up. Back to bed.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:17 AM on May 26, 2007


I'm pretty sure you can say this for damn near every solo in 37 years since Hendrix's death.

Maybe, but the nods on those particular tunes are pretty damn explicit.
posted by psmealey at 7:37 AM on May 26, 2007


Eddie sings that way 'cause he's deep, man...
posted by Tube at 8:28 AM on May 26, 2007


LOLmake me french fries.
posted by Wonderwoman at 9:05 AM on May 26, 2007


Eddie sings that way 'cause he's deep, man...

Ehhh, I can understand your sarcasm, and the truth is probably more to do with what's in the Jack Daniels bottle than what's in his soul, but still...I love that guy.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:10 AM on May 26, 2007


Potato wave!
posted by quin at 9:58 AM on May 26, 2007


Evenflow by Operaman.
And Potato Wave!
posted by Sailormom at 10:10 AM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


still...I love that guy.

I actually enjoy him as well, and truth be told, he's a damn nice guy. He gave (a much more outgoing buddy and) me a ride back from Seatac Airport to West Seattle one time when our ride had stranded us. A nicer more down to earth rock star, you cannot imagine.

One thing that bugs me about him is that he's got a terrific rock voice (in the Jim Morrisson vein), but he too frequently pushes his range and ends up sounding kind of squeaky and thin. I really wish he wouldn't do that as he has considerable ability at the lower range of his register.
posted by psmealey at 10:17 AM on May 26, 2007


abuttal love read, abuttal love wight, atoll deep ends a pawn yore apatite
aisle meat yew Annie thyme yew wont inn yore eat Al yen rest tor aunt.
posted by Eideteker at 10:36 AM on May 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Awesome.
posted by brundlefly at 11:23 AM on May 26, 2007


It's pretty obvious to me that the whole point of this track for Mike McCready is to give a shoutout to Hendrix. I knew that from the very first lick the very first time I heard Yellow Ledbetter ages ago. There's a fine line between tribute and ripoff, and this song is obviously a tribute.
posted by afx114 at 11:36 AM on May 26, 2007


When I was in about 6th grade or so, I was absolutely and unabashedly obsessed with Pearl Jam. I bought teeny bopper magazines, guitar wank magazines, anything with pictures of Eddie & the gang. I cut out all the pictures and taped them to the wall above my bed, arranging them in an outwardly-expanding symmetrical pattern that I (creatively) called my "Pearl Jam Wall."

Until I heard Yellow Ledbetter, my favorite Pearl Jam song was Black. I dubbed it over and over again onto a tape, filled both sides with it so I wouldn't have to rewind it. 90 minutes of one song. I was sick. I didn't even really know what the song was about, but when they played it on MTV Unplugged (which I dutifully tape recorded) Eddie Vedder wrote "Pro Choice" on his arm in marker and totally freaked out on the stage, so I guess it seemed pretty cool to me. I'm still not totally sure about any of the lyrics (except "sheets of empty canvas" and that one part where they go "do doo doo doo doo-dah doo" a whole bunch). Someone told me it's about abortion, which makes sense I guess. I guess in retrospect it's kind of weird to be that obsessed with a song and never both to find out what the actual lyrics are. Whatever.

I got Yellow Ledbetter on some import CD single and it replaced Black as my favorite. I remember reading somewhere that it somehow fit in with Jeremy and one other song, that they all somehow told one continuous story. I've never paid much attention to lyrics, though, particularly when they're more or less completely indecipherable. Eddie Vedder sounded passionate enough to convince my middle-school self that he was telling pithy and important stories, though, so I didn't really need to dig any deeper beneath the sound of his tremulous voice to convince me.

Then Eddie and I grew apart. We both became angstier, more ornery. I stopped following what he was up to, indifferent to his battle against Ticketmaster. Maybe my definition of cool changed, or maybe it was he who actually changed, but either way the end result was the same: I started thinking Eddie Vedder was kind of a douchebag. I tore down my Pearl Jam wall and replaced it with a poster of the Mona Lisa smoking a joint that I got from Spencer's.

To this day, all these years later, I still can't help but think Eddie Vedder is a douchebag. And I remember the way their music made me feel back then, but I still cringe when I hear it now.

They were (and continue to be) a really shitty band.

In the corner of my middle-school bedroom, in the shadow of my massive Pearl Jam shrine, there was a single Nirvana poster. When nostalgic conversations come up about that era, I usually say I was into Pearl Jam and Nirvana and leave it at that.
posted by hypocritical ross at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fallout Boy parodying Pearl Jam is like Dane Cook making fun of Bill Hicks.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:03 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Having actually checked the link now, I'm an idiot. And I approve.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:15 PM on May 26, 2007


Thanks for sharing with us your voyage of self-importance, hypocritical ross.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 12:46 PM on May 26, 2007


What a mean thing to say Tommy Gnosis.
posted by vronsky at 12:50 PM on May 26, 2007


Thanks for shitting on my voyage, Tommy.
posted by hypocritical ross at 1:15 PM on May 26, 2007


Come on, don't make juvenile claims of "well he's just a douchebag" without at least something to back it up - other than some vague reference to the fact that some time between jr. high and adulthood your tastes changed - and not expect to be taken down at least half a peg for it. Your memories are well painted but your shift from I love these guys, to they suck and always did kind of doesn't cut it as a narrative. Just makes you sound like a poseur who stopped liking them because it wasn't cool to.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 1:24 PM on May 26, 2007


band longevity is a rockist concern.

I stopped listening to them as well, but I highly appreciate how they influenced my listening.

And I made the mistake of watching the clip whilst brushing my teeth, nearly sending Aquafreshâ„¢ over the laptop at "Make Me Fries"
posted by Grizzlepaws at 1:35 PM on May 26, 2007


Fallout Boy parodying Pearl Jam is like Dane Cook making fun of Bill Hicks.

That's high praise... unless you weren't down with Bill Hicks. He wasn't for everybody, but he definitely had something approaching genius. Pearl Jam, not so much.

Frankly, I never understood why Pearl Jam were so outrageously successful and widely reviled in their time. I thought they were a pretty decent 90s update/retread of the 70s arena hard rock band format. Nothing truly memorable, but definitely entertaining and very much of their time.
posted by psmealey at 1:41 PM on May 26, 2007


I don't need to back anything up at all. I thought it was pretty clear that the reason I think Eddie Vedder is a douchebag is because my personal tastes have changed. That kind of thing happens. Do you have to like everything you liked in the past in order to not "sound like a poseur"? Give me a break.
posted by hypocritical ross at 1:44 PM on May 26, 2007


I say, yes! "Douchebag" is fighting words, not to be hurled lightly at someone who is, by all objective aspects, a worthwhile human being, whether you care for his music or not.

I still like everything i used to like. I'm gonna go rock out to some Ace of Base now, thanks.
posted by ELF Radio at 1:49 PM on May 26, 2007


Grizzlepaws nails the issue really well with the phrase "band longevity." Although I liked Nirvana quite a bit back in junior high, over the years I discovered more songs that I liked, got into new albums, etc, and to this day Bleach and Incesticide are still in regular rotation for me. Now that I know more than I did in 6th grade, I feel pretty confident in saying that Nirvana was a more interesting and influential (and hence, a BETTER) band than Pearl Jam. This is admittedly sort of like comparing apples and oranges, but I think it gets the point across well enough.

This concludes my voyage of self-importance.
posted by hypocritical ross at 1:49 PM on May 26, 2007


I'm gonna go rock out to some Ace of Base now, thanks.

Ace of Base sucks ass! Bay City Rollers 4evar!
posted by psmealey at 2:08 PM on May 26, 2007


My favorite bands in high school were The Police, U2, Oingo Boingo & Madness. When I listen to that stuff now, I am mostly relieved to think I had pretty good taste.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:17 PM on May 26, 2007


I mean, for a 16 year old. I could've been into Kajagoogoo or Wang Chung or something.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:22 PM on May 26, 2007


I didn't even really know what the song was about, but when they played it on MTV Unplugged (which I dutifully tape recorded) Eddie Vedder wrote "Pro Choice" on his arm in marker and totally freaked out on the stage, so I guess it seemed pretty cool to me.

Pedantic, I know, but that was "Porch", wasn't it?
posted by Mikey-San at 2:26 PM on May 26, 2007


I was trying to recall if I had a hypocritical ross moment myself, where I worshipped a band as a youth and then did a total reversal later on. The closest I came to that, I think, is U2. But considering the albums of my U2-worshipping years were Boy, October and War I'll still maintain that that was a good call... based on everything else that was accessible to me at the time. As for the rest of it, the bands that got me through Jr. High (the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin), yep, still love 'em.
posted by psmealey at 2:27 PM on May 26, 2007


Mikey - you're right. Bah.
posted by hypocritical ross at 2:31 PM on May 26, 2007


Oh, I definitely did the same with U2, although my love did fade when they started taking their celebrity seriously. I loved them from the first time I saw them open for J. Geils. My first long distance drive without an adult in the car was to see them at the LA Sports Arena, which still counts as one of the BEST concerts of my life. Then I saw them in Tempe on the Joshua Tree tour and it was over for me. I had watched them turn from moody Irish Christian guys that made cool music into a group of self-important pop dudes who were swigging champagne on stage. I saw the audience go from diehard fans singing 40 in the parking lot to people holding up signs saying "Hedge! We love you!" in an obviously uneducated attempt to get on camera in what ended up as Rattle & Hum.

By the time Bono was wearing fly glasses, I was long gone. Totally done. I own a few of their later CDs & enjoy them ok, but to this day when I listen to any of the old stuff, I feel something more special. I still think it's damn good. There are quite a few other bands I still like too. The English Beat. Clash. Sex Pistols. Elvis Costello. Blondie. Talking Heads. XTC. Violent Femmes. I am pretty okay with all of it. And there are even a few that didn't become big... like Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, Haircut 100 & Aztec Camera that I still enjoy when I hear them. I don't listen to them and think, "Wow, what was I thinking." I can still recognize and appreciate what I liked about them. So that makes me happy. I mean, in contrast I could've been the head of the Flock of Seagulls Fan Club or gotten tattoos of Falco all over me or something.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:13 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


And for the record, I'm TOTALLY pro-porch.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:14 PM on May 26, 2007


Never really liked Pearl Jam, but got dragged along to a show several years ago and was impressed. They're really a good live band. Eddie Vedder is a tiny little man, but he can fill up a stage.

And "make me fries" made me laugh like an idiot.

Potato wave!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:16 PM on May 26, 2007


I had a hypocritical ross moment with Shudder To Think but it only lasted for about a week and I can't for the life of me recall its genesis.

Also, thanks for the post.
posted by psmith at 3:22 PM on May 26, 2007


As the youngest child of three, my brothers were always telling me to listen to this band called Pearl Jam. As a kid in his teens growing up in the late 90s at a time when the world had begun to turn its back on rock and grunge, Pearl Jam wasn't on my radar. Paula Abdul was cool, man, and that was that.

Then one day I got my first CD player. I had only two CDs at that time, and I was getting bored listening to those two albums over and over again. I raided my brothers CD cupboard and found Pearl Jam's Ten. And my world changed forever.

Pearl Jam taught me many things. They taught me that music was something that should come from ones soul and experiences, not from Hit Generator 2.0 or some ghost writer. That music was something to be savored, not consumed. That music videos were not something you should do for the sake of having just released an album. That MTV was shit. That human rights were worth caring about. That caring about something was... good.

They opened my eyes to a whole new world of music. Now I was listening to Nirvana (which I had somehow missed out on... I still don't know how), Soundgarden, Metallica, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Led Zepplin, Tool, Offspring, Spiderbait. Musicians who actually wrote their own music, played their own instruments and who weren't just pretty faces on music videos designed to sell the latest album the record companies were saying we were all meant to enjoy.

I'm much older and wiser now. But I still love Pearl Jam. They're probably no longer my favorite band (and to be honest I'm not sure I have a favorite band anymore) but for whatever else, they still make great music and are rich enough now to be able to do what they want to do on their albums without worrying about turning out the next radio friendly unit shifter. That they got rich on the back of great music while maintaining a vague air of artistic credibility is to me a slap in the face to such a capitalistic world, and I love that. Plus, in my opinion, they're still better than most bands that have ever been and almost universally better than most new and emerging artists like Nickelback, Fall Out Boy and Britney Spears and the hundreds of clones who followed her.

Some up-thread have commented that they don't see what the world saw in Pearl Jam. Some have said they think Eddie is a douche. I'll give you a free pass on Pearl Jam as a band; just as I hate most new music today I can accept that Pearl Jam's music won't appeal to all. But I'll stand by Eddie until the end. He's a very worthwhile human being, and someone who is a rarity in todays cold, cruel world.

And for the record, as someone who has spent the better part of the last ten years loving and listening to Pearl Jam and digesting the various trivia about them, I can say with some degree of authority that Yellow Ledbetter is an anti-war song. Eddie changes the lyrics every time the song is performed, but each version has the same meaning. It is an anti-war song, about someone who is at home when they hear, or don't want to face the fact that, their brother is dead. And along with Black, it's probably one of my favorite PJ songs.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:28 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Effigy2000, you just made my night. Thanks for posting that. For very similar, but entirely too personal reasons I'll never go into on MeFI, I feel the same way about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Was moving to me to see similar passion for music and an artist or group expressed so eloquently.
posted by psmealey at 3:47 PM on May 26, 2007


I want to apologize for my first comment in the thread. I really do try and stay out of religious threads, political threads and your fave band sucks discussions. And I really can't explain why I dislike PJ and the rest of grunge music or the seattle scene. I'm the type to find something to like in pretty much any music I hear. But PJ and Nirvana and Soundgarden really do make me almost physically ill. I will run to change the station if their songs come on the radio. But like I say, I can't explain it, and I really am not coming from a your band sucks perspective. So sorry. Mea culpa.

I will say this, as a hetero male, I do think Eddie Vedder is kinda cool looking.

And I liked Oingo Boingo too miss lynnster.
posted by vronsky at 9:37 PM on May 26, 2007


This was very funny, but I missed the fetus (aka see Dems) from the "original" version.
posted by O9scar at 10:15 AM on May 29, 2007


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