Artist: Pearl Jam
Release date: August 27, 1991
Why this song was chosen: Although this song is admitted by Pearl Jam’s front man to be “fiction based on reality”, it covers an area of abuse that isn’t mentioned nearly as much. This song discusses a mother who abuses her on because he looks like and reminds her of the boy’s late father. We typically see stories about a male aggressor, and this one gives us a story that is a little bit different than the norm, reminding us that it doesn’t always have to be a male perpetrator.
What the artist has to say about the song: In a Rolling Stone interview (which is now archived) called ‘Five Against The World’, Eddie Vedder discussed Alive, saying “Everybody writes about it like it’s a life-affirmation, thing — I’m really glad about that. It’s a great interpretation. But ‘Alive’ is… it’s torture. Which is why it’s fucked up for me. Why I should probably learn how to sing another way. It would be easier. It’s… it’s too much. The story of the song is that a mother is with a father and the father dies. It’s an intense thing because the son looks just like the father. The son grows up to be the father, the person that she lost. His father’s dead, and now this confusion, his mother, his love, how does he love her, how does she love him? In fact, the mother, even though she marries somebody else, there’s no one she’s ever loved more than the father. You know how it is, first loves and stuff. And the guy dies. How could you ever get him back? But the son. He looks exactly like him. It’s uncanny. So she wants him. The son is oblivious to it all. He doesn’t know what the fuck is going on. He’s still dealing, he’s still growing up. He’s still dealing with love, he’s still dealing with the death of his father. All he knows is ‘I’m still alive’ — those three words, that’s totally out of burden.” (Source: Rolling Stone Archives)
How do you think this song contributes to the conversation on sex crimes?
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Read the lyrics here.
Possible trigger warning. As with all of the content we post, the songs in the Every Day In May campaign should be listened to at your own discretion. Some may make you feel uplifted and others may make you feel angry, disturbed, or disgusted. The songs should also be considered not safe for work.