This is my Desert Island Pearl Jam song choice. If I was restricted to choose just one Pearl Jam song to take with me for the rest of my life, then Black would be it. I also consider it one of my 20 favourite songs of all time. To my mind, this song propels their album Ten from an excellent record into the highest tier – classic record realm. One fan member Jenilla at songmeanings summed up how I also feel about Black: ‘It’s about the most honest and raw expression of such excruciating pain and longing that anyone who’s ever lost their greatest love can relate to.’
Eddie Vedder explained in the Pearl Jam 20 documentary about Black: “It’s very rare for a relationship to withstand the Earth’s gravitational pull and where it’s going to take people and how they’re going to grow. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really have a true love unless it was a love unrequited. It’s a harsh one, because then your truest one is the one you can’t have forever.”
According to wikipedia:
(Black) Features lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by guitarist Stone Gossard. After Ten became a commercial success in 1992, Pearl Jam’s record label Epic Records urged the group to release the song as a single. The band refused, citing the song’s personal nature. Despite the lack of a commercial single release, the song managed to reach number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart…It has gone on to become one of the band’s most popular songs, as well as a fan favorite.
The song originated as an instrumental demo under the name “E Ballad” that was written by guitarist Stone Gossard in 1990. It was one of five songs compiled onto a tape called Stone Gossard Demos ’91 that was circulated in the hopes of finding a singer and drummer for Pearl Jam. The tape made its way into the hands of vocalist Eddie Vedder, who was working as a San Diego gas station attendant at the time. Vedder recorded vocals for three of the songs on the demo tape (“Alive”, “Once”, and “Footsteps”), and mailed the tape back to Seattle. Upon hearing the tape, the band invited Vedder to come to Seattle. On his way to Seattle, Vedder wrote lyrics for “E Ballad”, which he called “Black”.