Across the decades, few bands have hit the heights that Pearl Jam have. The band were part of the alt-rock revival that came to prominence alongside grunge and other rock and roll Americana. The band, led by Eddie Vedder, have remained remarkably consistent in their quality ever since they released their debut single 30 years ago.
One of the core values the band have held dear is putting out music that is rich in authenticity. Leaning on their personal experiences to help shape their sound, the group have always ensured that their sonic landscape was one that everybody could take part in. It’s an ethos that has stemmed, in part, from the band’s love of literature.
Across the years, Eddie Vedder has never been afraid to share his opinion on the art that has helped him reach his potential over the years. Whether it is his favourite albums or his favourite bands, Vedder has acknowledged that, like all great artists, he has found inspiration in the expression of others. It meant that when 2017’s World Book Day came a-knocking, he and the rest of Pearl Jam detailed their favourite books of all time.
Now, sadly, the group didn’t offer much explanation as to why these titles were their favourites, but there is enough quality in this Pearl Jam reading list to need no further explanation.
Pearl Jam’s bassist, Jeff Ament, was first up, and he selected arguably one of the finest books ever written, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The book, which sees the Devil himself infiltrate Soviet Russia and make his merry way around Moscow, is also regarded as the book that inspired Mick Jagger to write The Rolling Stones hit ‘Sympathy for the Devil’.
Mike McCready goes for an equally impressive book as he picks out a noted favourite among the rock community, John Steinbeck’s Grapes fo Wrath. It’s a title that has benefitted from its apparent permanent spot on high school curriculums. Matt Cameron also keeps things classic by picking out a Franz Kafka novel, Amerika. Stone Gossard provides a sense of grounding with his choice, Mating by Norman Rush.
Perhaps the most unusual and interesting pick is from Eddie Vedder, who selects the quite astounding James Baldwin and his book Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems. Baldwin may have been latterly positioned as a critical thinker and sincere essayist, but his first forays into the world of literature were through poetry. Baldwin considered himself a poet before finding a more academic niche, and this, his first book, provides an authentic view of the man.
Pearl Jam’s favourite books:
- Jeff Ament – The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Eddie Vedder – Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems by James Baldwin
- Mike McCready – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Stone Gossard – Mating by Norman Rush
- Matt Cameron – Amerika by Franz Kafka