Even Flow (1991) – Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam – Ten

Even Flow is the third song to appear here from Pearl Jam’s debut masterpiece record – Ten. More information about my connection to this music and the founding of Pearl Jam is in my article on their debut single ‘Alive‘. Today’s track Even Flow is the second single from the record and features lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by guitarist Stone Gossard. It peaked at No.3 on the Billboard Rock Tracks.

Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies
Oh, he don’t know, so he chases them away
Oh, someday yet he’ll begin his life again
Life again, life again

It is one of the first Alternative-Seattle music songs I remember hearing. I was blown away by the rawness of it. Even Flow, like the rest of the record presented a cutting-edge new sound that stripped all the varnish off the ostensible music which preceded it. It paved the way for others to follow a similar ‘grunge’ sound in their recordings. The contrast between what we were accustomed to hearing in the late 80’s to this groundbreaking new sound on Ten couldn’t be more stark. My bohemian friends and I way back then were sold and we listened to little else than Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Sound Garden.

Despite Even Flow’s huge success as a single, the band members recall doing upwards to a hundred versions of the song, but none were completely satisfied with any of them. Guitarist Mike McCready stated, “We did ‘Even Flow’ about 50, 70 times. I swear to God it was a nightmare. We played that thing over and over until we hated each other. I still don’t think Stone is satisfied with how it came out.

Even Flow was first performed live at the band’s October 22, 1990 concert in Seattle at the Off Ramp Café. Pearl Jam performed the song for its appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1992. It has gone on to become the band’s most performed live song, having been played more than 800 times.

“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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15 comments on “Even Flow (1991) – Pearl Jam
  1. A classic! I loved listening to it while commuting to college.

  2. My intro to the band. Still sounds good.

  3. You forgot to mention that scorching solo by Mike Mccready, it is so epic. And there is a reason why it is played so often live, even after almost 30 times seeing them live, that song always grabs me for sheer intensity and intent from the band.

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