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Live from 8/17/98
intimidation ... suppression ... cruelty ... harassment ... injustice ... abuse ... fear ...

I took a drive today
time to emancipate
I guess it was the beatings
made me wise
but I'm not about to give thanks
or apologize
I couldn't breathe
holdin' me down
hand on my face
pushed to the ground
enmity gauged
divided by fear
tried to endure
what I could not forgive
hey hey

I seem to look away
wounds in the mirror waved
it wasn't my surface
most defiled
head at your feet
fool to your crown
fist on my plate
swallowed it down
enmity gauged
divided by fear
tried to endure
what I could not forgive

saw things (4x)
clearer (2x)
once you, were in my
rearviewmirror ...

I gather speed
from you fucking with me
once and for all
I'm far away
I hardly believe
finally the shades
are raised ... hey ...

saw things
so much clearer
once you, once you ... (4x)

First appearing on a setlist at the "secret" Slim's Club show in San Francisco May 13, 1993, but really coming to light after the 1994 Saturday Night Live appearance, Rearviewmirror evokes passion in many PJ enthusiasts.

One of the most colorful components of RVM is the jam. This interlude can take many side trips and often the guitar tweaking seems directly derivative of several song from The Who's catalogue. Bringing an offshoot of the basic riff back is Jeff, with his deep, rhythmic bass line. Pearl Jam has modified the song over the years, with a slower intro surfacing in 1996 and with Ed employing the ebow in 1998.

RVM has evolved and each playing seems unique and varied. Here are just a few "memorable moments in Rearviewmirror history."

6/20/95 - Red Rocks - Four lines into the song, Eddie stops the band to break up a fight in the crowd:

"OK, stop for a second ... Come on you guys. What the fuck are you having a fight for? You're in the middle of a rock and roll concert ... peace and love, right? ... Course remember we're the band that starts fights."
Exhibiting the uncanny ability to start up right where they've left off, with a quick "1, 2, 3, 4" count, they begin again.
  • RVM, live excerpt from 6/20/95 [mp3 - 1,699K]

    7/9/95 Summerfest - Those of us fortunate to be in the crowd for the two Milwaukee 95 shows were treated to RVM both nights. The second night, Eddie absolutely nailed the guttural utterance of "Rearviewmirrrrroooooorrrr" after the jam -- one of those "goosebump moments" that is forever cemented in my memory.

    10/5/96 N. Charleston Coliseum - Ed is winded and his voice is showing fatigue. He enlists the crowd's assistance ("Want you ... HELP ME! ... in my ... rearviewmirror").

    12/4/96 Goa Club, Rome - In this incredible, brief set, Ed enthusiastically starts off too fast, leaving his Italian band members behind and laughingly apologizes about how they haven't practiced much, and then they restart.

    3/5/98 Melbourne Park - The Goa Club in 96 was the last time Rearviewmirror was played in concert until the Australian 98 tour, a remarkable version performed at Melbourne when Eddie adds the "swallow that fucker down" lyric and ends the verse with a sweet, "I love you too."
  • RVM, live excerpt from 3/5/98 [mp3 - 526K]

    8/23/98 Palace of Auburn Hills - In a nod to Detroit, Ed introduces it as "another car song" and begins "first gear, second gear, third gear" etc., until unleashing the full song.
  • RVM, live excerpt from 8/23/98 [mp3 - 509K]

    Rearviewmirror is totally Vedder's song. He penned not only the music, but the lyrics, and he opens the song with the familiar, distinctive opening notes that continue to reappear throughout.

    In his words,
    "Take 'Rearviewmirror,' we start off with the music and it kind of propels the lyrics. It made me feel like I was in a car, leaving something, a bad situation. There's an emotion there. I remembered all the times I wanted to leave ..." 1   Eddie explained it previously at the Brixton Academy July 13, 1993 as "listen to this song in a car really fast, driving away from someone you hate."

    RVM is a song that symbolizes for me one way of coping with an unpleasant or painful circumstance where you feel just slammed against the wall ... where you've been repeatedly taken advantage of, mistreated or oppressed, perhaps for a long time. Sometimes you just have to leave the situation and regroup, clear your mind, find some peace. As you put distance between yourself and that which is keeping you down, you can glance into the rearviewmirror and see what you are leaving becoming smaller and far away. Your mind begins to clear; you can put things in perspective. For me, RVM is about escaping, surviving and moving on ... summoning strength, overcoming, living! I gather speed ... indeed I do!!

    Lyrically, some group Rearviewmirror with Daughter, citing:
    Daughter Rearviewmirror
    The shades go down
    She holds the hand that holds her down
    Finally the shades are raised
    Holdin' me down, hand on my face, pushed to the ground

    To me, RVM is not so much a companion piece for Daughter, but the MFC precursor. RVM is the realization to leave the situation; MFC is the actual journey.

  • Rearviewmirror, as delivered 8/17/98 at the Deer Creek Center, Noblesville, IN [mp3 - 5,728K]

    While there were many fantastic versions of Rearviewmirror this summer, this is the one that is most memorable for me, so we chose to feature this version of RVM in its entirety. Because I was wanting to hear it so badly at the final show I attended in 98, when I heard the first few notes, I jumped a few feet in the air from the adrenaline pump! So we chose this playing, which features an add-in on Mike's part, new to the later 98 shows. He tosses in a bit of Black Sabbath's War Pigs toward the conclusion (usually reserved for Alive), but he adds it here as if cuing everyone else ("OK, time to wrap it up").

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  • 1 Vedder quotes taken from Robert Hilburn's article "He Didn't Ask for All This" (L.A. Times 5/1/94)

    © 1998 Jean Bruns