The song Gone by Pearl Jam was very inspirational for me. Actually, many PJ songs have been an inspiration; Jeremy, Gone, Corduroy, Life Wasted, Unthought Known…I could list entire albums I grew up listening to. But the lyrics in Gone helped inspire and motivate me to sell all my stuff and move to Panama. So much so I tattooed it on my arm as a reminder.
“If nothing is everything, I would have it all.”
Well, years have gone by, I was gone and returned, and Pearl Jam is still rocking as they approach 30 years together as a band. And now they’re a bunch of sell-outs.
I hate to say something like that – I guess everyone has a price – and everyone needs to make money. Album sales don’t cut the mustard anymore for bands. They need to tour, and while on tour they need to sell merchandise – and a crapload of it at that. So I get it.
When I saw PJ in Seattle for over three hours of great music, it wasn’t those three hours that sticks out, sadly. The memory that stands out is the countless people in line for PJMerch (merchandise). Lineups appeared to be an hour long, and well over one hundred people long — and that was just one of the several PJ Merch lineups.
It became a joke afterwards. I saw people standing outside waiting for a bus and decided to ask “Is this the PJ Merch line”, garnering a few chuckles and even more “Yeah, very funny wise-ass” looks. I’m guessing that latter was from the people who waited in line for PJ Merch and missed a good chunk of an amazing concert.
We saw one kid come with his bag of treasures and telling the tales of his haul. T-shirts, posters, stickers, guitar picks, lint from Eddie’s ass when he recorded Big Hard Sun. Basically useless stuff, all in the name of PJ Merch. Hey, I’m not judging the kid. I was once just like that kid wanting everything as a souvenir – well, maybe not Eddie’s ass lint. Okay, maybe I’d take the ass lint…for the wife of course.
I don’t expect PJ to just give their stuff away either – they need to make money and should be paid for their art. I guess it just all comes back to the song Gone for me. If nothing is everything, I would have it all. Waiting in line for an hour to buy stuff wasn’t why I was at the concert. I wanted to see my favourite band perform in front of the home town crowd. I spent money on flights, hotels, and tickets. I wasn’t about miss any of the show for a t-shirt that, in all honesty, isn’t even that appealing or of high quality.
It’s really how I’ve felt over the past few years. I’ve had very little when it comes to material items, let alone paying for those type of souvenirs. And I’m even more reluctant to buy PJ Merch when they went with mobile tickets, robbing fans of the Ticket Stub Souvenir, only to come out weeks later and say; “you asked for it, so we’re offering tickets stubs you can buy”. WTF man!
“They can buy but can’t put on my clothes.”
I’m hoping this won’t be my last PJ show – they’re an amazing band to see live. However, I don’t hope to see PJ Merch lines like the ones I’ve seen this year. It’s just stuff PJ fans. We can’t take it with us. It won’t make us part of the band. They won’t invite us backstage because we waited hours in line to buy a poster, sticker, t-shirt, or Eddie’s ass lint in an air-locked bag…or who knows, Eddie might want his lint back, so maybe you can make a buck there.
Now go sell all your stuff and avoid “Merch” lines!