Better Man (1994) – Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam 1994

Pearl Jam Vitalogy – 1994

Better Man is the third song to feature from Pearl Jam in this music project and quite possibly my joint favorite song of theirs, along with Nothingman. It is the eleventh track on the band’s third studio album, Vitalogy. Better Man was never commercially released as a single but reached the top of the Billboard mainstream charts and stayed at number 1 for a total of 8 weeks.  Vitalogy became the second-fastest selling album in history, only behind the band’s previous release Vs., selling 877,000 copies in its first week and went multi-platinum quickly.

The song was written by Eddie Vedder when he was in High School. Vedder stated, “Sometimes I think of how far I’ve come from the teenager sitting on the bed in San Diego writing ‘Better Man’ and wondering if anyone would ever even hear it“. Extraordinarily, the song was omitted by the band from their previous album Vs.  When the band’s producer Brendan O’Brien heard the song in rehearsals he said “Man, that song’s a hit”, but Eddie just went “uhhh.” Al Weisel of Rolling Stone called the song a “haunting ballad about a woman trapped in a bad relationship.” When “Better Man” was performed on VH1 Storytellers in 2006, Vedder introduced it as a song about “abusive relationships.

Waitin’, watchin’ the clock, it’s four o’clock, it’s got to stop
Tell him, take no more, she practices her speech
As he opens the door, she rolls over
Pretends to sleep as he looks her over

She lies and says she’s in love with him, can’t find a better man
She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can’t find a better man
Can’t find a better man

According to wikipedia: In Atlanta 1994 at the Fox Theatre, Vedder clearly said “it’s dedicated to the bastard that married my Momma.” He was referring to his stepfather, Peter Mueller, a California attorney whom Vedder had long believed to be his biological father and who divorced his mother in the early 1980s….

In Pearl Jam concerts, the slow opening verses and choruses of “Better Man” are frequently sung as much by the audience as by Vedder. The song is often performed live as a medley with The English Beat’s “Save It For Later”. At the last Vote for Change concert on October 13, 2004 in East Rutherford, New Jersey at Continental Airlines Arena, Vedder made a guest appearance with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and sang “Better Man” upon Springsteen’s request.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Music
11 comments on “Better Man (1994) – Pearl Jam
  1. Pearl Jam is so kick @$$. Better Man is iconic. Nice post.

  2. badfinger20 says:

    That is a powerful song Matt. I do remember it from a Pearl Jam fan that is a friend.

    • It’s just about when I finally stopped liking new commercial music. Or at least when I heard it I didn’t take an interest. I would have to hear about good music from sites or what have you.

      • badfinger20 says:

        There are things I hear now that I like…but 9 times out of 10 they are not mainstream. Maybe it is us growing older…but with me…I always liked older stuff to begin with.

        This one I like because I had a step dad that I didn’t like and it wasn’t a good relationship with my mom.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there has been great music since. I’m just not as clued into it like when I was younger.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I’m in the same boat with you Matt.

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Not a Pearl Jam fan, but I remember this song and also kinda liked it. It’s haunting in parts and then catchy in others.
    It’s funny how many people probably sit on their beds or their sofa or in their garage or in the garden writing a song or a story or painting or sculpting or doing whatever and think, “I wonder if anyone will ever read/see this?”
    I mean, I think creating will happen whether or not people ever see the finished product. But sharing it with others is also part of it….

    • Hi Stacey! I was besotted with early Pearl Jam and so were my friends. I still listen to them regularly. To me songs like ‘Black’ and ‘Jeremy’ seem to be timeless and still socially relevant like ‘Better Man’.
      The story of how Eddie Vedder became to be the singer of Jam is legendary. One minute he’s working at a gas station and the next he’s singing at Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert. That’s quite the step up, and that’s not to heap shit on gas station attendants.
      I agree with you about ‘Creation’ and it being in and of itself whether it is known or unknown. It’s funny how Vedder even dismissed this song until the producer coerced them to keep at rehearsing it..

  4. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Hi, Matthew!
    Wow, a real sort of rags to riches story. Like you said, not that the gas station is a bad job, but it’s probably physically demanding and I bet people are rude all the time, lol.
    Abruptly finding yourself singing at Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert would be so amazingly disorienting……I think I’d just be in a dream-state for probably years after that!

  5. Good stuff on a good song.

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