Black is the fifth track from the debut album, Ten, of the American rock band Pearl Jam. The lyrics to Black by Pearl Jam were written by the band vocalist Eddie Vedder and the music by guitarist Stone Gossard. It was in fact a monologue of a broken-hearted man, reminiscing and remembering an absent lover.
Many of the songs in the album Ten was originally composed by Gossard as instrumentals and when Eddie Vedder joined the band as a vocalist, he added lyrics to the songs. Black was originally entitled ‘E Ballad’ from its instrumental version. Most of the songs that Vedder wrote usually deal more with depression, loneliness, suicide murder, as well as social concerns. In October 22, 1990, Black was first performed live at a concert in Seattle. Washington at the Off Ramp Cafe and this appeared in 1992 on MTV Unplugged. The song is among the most popular songs of the band and one of their most enduring singles. From the pressure felt by Pearl Jam from Epic records when the band refused to release Black as a single and refusing to make a video for it. Even though Vedder made sure that radio stations doesn’t release the song as a single, the song reached number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and at number twenty on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks in 1993. In March 2009, Black was included in the Rock Band series as a downloadable content and as a master track part of the album Ten and in the same year, it was featured in the Cold Case Episode: Into the Blue. In May 2011, ‘Black’ was ranked as the 9th best ballad of all time based on the votes of the readers of Rolling Stone magazine.
The live performances of Black are available on albums such live albums as Live on Two Legs, Live at Benora Hall, various official bootlegs, Dissident/Live in Atlanta box set, and at the Live at the Gorge 05/06 box set. It can also be found in the Drop in the Park LP, Live at the Garden, and MTV Unplugged DVD of the Super Deluxe edition of the Ten reissue. Black was also covered by other artists such as Aaron Lewis of Stained for the his 2001 live album, Turin Brakes on their tour, and Bronson Arroyo for the 2005 album Cover the Bases.
Pearl Jam’s main lyricist, Vedder is known to write songs with ambiguous meaning that many versions of meaning and interpretations have emerged about the lyrics to Black by Pearl Jam. Some interpreted the song to be about rape, while for others, it’s about abortion. But for the lyricist, it’s just a soliloquy of a broken-hearted man, remembering his missing lover.
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