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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 101

Match 101:

Alice In Chains "Again" (Live) (1996)
Nirvana "Grey Goose" (1989)
Pearl Jam "Wasted Reprise" (2006) "Yellow Ledbetter" (1993)
Soundgarden "Attrition" (2012)

And so we start the last live performance of Layne Staley (and the last three times he'll appear on The Grunge Match).  The vocals on this song are pretty bad, but that's because it really needs that doubling effect to work.  It's just not a song that works well in a live setting.  Or so I thought until I looked up a 2013 performance of the song.  It's not the greatest thing I've ever heard or anything, but I think William DuVall is better at vocal arrangement, maybe?  He is singing a different part than Layne is in the harmony, and it sounds closer to what it's supposed to be like.  But even William DuVall wasn't perfect with this song; a 2006 clip had him making the same mistake, ow; No, I didn't say it was okay...no, whoa, whoa.  (SHIT that was corny, but I was rambling and desperate for a segue.)  The rest of the performance is pretty much rote from the album.

The beginning of "Grey Goose" sounds like a band trying to write an AC/DC ripoff, but not putting their heart into it.  The production sound reminds me of a cross between "Superunknown" for the guitars and "Siamese Dream".  For a studio demo for a nothing band in 1989, this was pretty top notch.  But the song is SO boring.  It starts slow and goes nowhere for four minutes.  Even with vocals, I don't think this would've been compelling.

Because today's entry from "Pearl Jam" is a reprise of an earlier song, I'm taking this opportunity to talk instead about a song that gets constant rotation to this day on rock stations (and Wisconsin jukeboxes apparently...).  "Yellow Ledbetter" has been around for twenty five years, and it's one of the band's most endearing hits, in spite of being a B-Side to "Jeremy".  It was only officially released on the "Lost Dogs" compilation, but because of the nature of this beast, I had to strike that entire 30-song comp from the competition.  But by God I found a way to include this technically throwaway yet impossible to escape for a quarter century song.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot going on with it musically.  It has a few blues licks that try to mimic Hendrix and a solo that's not too shabby.  Other than that, it's kind of the same mellow thing for five minutes.  I do like the intro and outro; their quiet stillness and whatever cheesy phrase you could apply.  The lyrics are about Eddie Vedder's friend Tim Ledbetter, who lost his brother in the Gulf War (which was around the time this was written).  They went for a walk, and Tim saluted a flag these people were gathered under on their porch, and they gave him a dirty look because he looked like a grunge kid.

All in all, it's not a horrible song, though overplay has tarnished its reputation.  Pearl Jam certainly have fun with it, changing the lyrics all the time and closing concerts with it while adding on other similar songs (like "Little Wing" which inspired it more than a little) into the solo section.  I even wrote a "poem" based on the guitar riff formed out of onomatopoeia and an elaboration of Eddie Vedder's request that Stone Gossard "Make him cry" just before the solo.

As it happens, I still have this thing on my hard drive.  Never thought there'd be a vehicle for this, but WHY THE FUCK NOT?!?!?

Here we go:

Yellow Leadbetter

Doo;  Doo doo doo...
Doo doo doo doo; DOO doo Doo doo Doo doo
Doo doo Doo doo DOO doo; Doo Doo doo doo doo
(Doo dee doo; Doo dEe doo)

Make me cry with your solo, Mr. Gossard...

WAaaww, woo nee wah wouw, na woo nee na wou ou...
Nu nee nu nu neeaw, naouauoooaaooaaooo...
Wah no whu...
NEEAUH...

Doo;  Doo doo doo...
Doo doo doo doo; DOO doo Doo doo Doo doo
Doo doo Doo doo DOO doo; Doo Doo doo doo doo
(Doo dee doo; Doo dEe doo...)

[Disclaimer: onomatopoeia may not be accurate; I was bored and in high school, and my notebook was my escape.]

ANYWAY, let's talk about "Attrition".  Did I mention Matt Cameron's in Pearl Jam?  Cuz this sounds like Pearl Jam.  And not in a good way.  In the generic "upbeat, mid period, dime-a-dozen" way.  You know what this means?  DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?!?  It means I fucked up, because I've got no choice but to give "Yellow Ledbetter" a FOUR!  Why did I have to meddle?!?!?

"Yellow Ledbetter": 4
"Attrition": 3 (but really DID NOT deserve it)
"Again" (Live): 2
"Grey Goose": 1

TOTALS:

Soundgarden: 274
Alice In Chains: 260
Pearl Jam: 252
Nirvana: 224

Tomorrow, we send The Jury packin' with their only listenable song.  Stay tuned.

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