Hearts & Thoughts They Fade…Fade Away

Nearly 17 years ago Pearl Jam released their 2nd album & one of the defining albums of my teenage years, VS. While the album was released in October of 1993, rehearsals started in February which is when the demos that you will no doubt be listening to shortly, are from. In February of 1993 I was 16 years old getting fully ingratiated into the grunge scene, leaving the sounds of gangster rap that my peers were listening to in the rear view. I became a bit more of an outcast than I already was, at a new school hanging out with guys that listened to things that I no longer had a connection to.

Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots & later Green Day & Bad Religion sparked something inside of me that connected me to a sense of rebellion or awkwardly connected me to disconnection. Always feeling like the outcast or at least the observer to everyone else’s enlightenment, but now I felt like I was the enlightened one & they were still waiting to take the blue pill. How could they not understand the beauty in a simple guitar riff? Was it the nearly unintelligible lyrics of Eddie Vedder, my newest hero?

Eddie was a long haired Sampsonian figure who screamed his angst into a microphone that might as well have been dipped in gold. He sung of boy’s killing themselves in front of their classmates, dissidents & the guilt of being alive while others around you drop like flies. It was my teenage years personified. Everything I couldn’t express in so many words, Eddie & Kurt did for me. I’d retreat to my bedroom, after observing the animals in the cage all day within the confines of the school & the factions that existed between so many different people from similar backgrounds.

I would sit in my room listening as Mike McCready did things with a guitar that until then I had never heard before. Eddie sung things like “Daughter”, not so cryptically speaking of violence, when all she seeks to do is please her parent. Reminding me of my own relationship with my father. No, it wasn’t a physically violent relationship at all, but the conversations were rarely pleasant. We had a weird, never comfortable relationship.

Something that spoke to the inner demons he shared with his own father. That disconnection I spoke of earlier was never more evident than when my father & I spoke. We connected on so few levels that when he died in 2001 there was a guilt that arose from having a weight lifted off my shoulders & having that last argument with him moments before he died. It never set well with me, but I always turned back to Eddie & the way he seemed to internalize everything. Not the healthiest response to be sure, but a coping mechanism nonetheless.

Often times people think of their High School years fondly as a time that they were at their peak or when they met people they made lasting lifelong relationships with. They go to their reunions to reacquaint themselves with lost time, a time when they were the king of the court. For me, high school was an observatory experience that jaded me & at the same time helped me become the writer I am today. Without the experience of those early years I never would have been able to coherently describe things the way I seemingly can now.

Without, what people offhandedly refer to as “The Grunge Years”, I never would have had that outlet that helped me to cope with things that I had no way of grasping in reality. It was because of this music that I picked up a guitar & taught myself how to play. It was because of this music that I enhanced my vocabulary. They were using words like the aforementioned dissident, making me wish I’d paid more attention in Mr. Hughes’ English class. It showed me that intelligence & music could forge a beautiful bond.

This album meant so much to me when later the same year as my father died, my grandfather succumbed to the cancer that ravaged his body. The man that I idolized had left an indelible mark on me, so much more than the man who raised me. The life that he told me I could have from working hard to achieve whatever my goals were. Starting work as a 12 year old washing dishes having taken a train to California with a friend to owning his own business & living near the beach. All the stories came flooding back & that clear refrain came into my head as we held a wake for him:

Hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade…

Versus Demos – 1993






Glorified G


Hard To Imagine




Rearview Mirror

Small Town (Elderly Woman…)


4 thoughts on “Hearts & Thoughts They Fade…Fade Away

  1. darylbecker

    Very good post. “Grunge” should have just been called Rock N Rolll…it is in the same spirit as all of the classic artists. I feel like it was the last rock revolution.

  2. W

    I just wanted to say that I found your site via Goolge and I am glad I did. Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books. Thanks again!


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