A long, slow introspective opening….a gentle awakening, careful and considerate, softly feeling for a thread of honesty. The intro to Pearl Jam’s ‘Inside Job’ is one of my personal favourites.

It has the feel of looking inward: a reversed guitar, followed by an acoustic guitar; the tempo, a head nodding feel of someone contemplating themselves, eyes closed, chin resting on their hand. The harmonic guitar searching for that truth, breaking through in a moment of clarity, settling down again, each instrument getting a bar to set the mood, the piano and bass to explore the idea, somewhat, before the vocals exposition the story.

(Album version)

The song was written by lead guitarist Mike McCready, including the lyrics. Eddie may be singing on a song, but it feels like an inner monologue, the character finally deciding to face up to the past, deal with it, and in doing so, becoming a better person. A human story, if ever there was one, we’ve all done it, and continue to do so, to better ourselves, and with the truest of intentions, by doing so, making humankind better. Grandiose, but there’s no denying the purity and heartfelt desire to be a better person, and the intention of the song to move you along that path, musically at least, and undertake that journey. With a song like this, it’s easy to find your meaning within it, particularly to identify with Mike’s lyrics.

“Make myself a pact, not to shut doors on the past…Just for today… I am free…I used to try and kill love, it was the highest sin…Breathing insecurity out and in… ”

Oh, I’ve been there, distrusting people and their intentions, for a long time, before eventually realizing it wasn’t everyone, but myself, that was at fault.

I feel the most honest message is, ‘How I choose to feel is how I am’. Truth, right there. Just hard to find or see sometimes. That’s when you need a song like this, to reconnect with others, but most importantly yourself, a perspective or a voice to offer some hope.
This is a performance from ACL, 2009. “Inside Job”is one of their rarely performed songs, but this version is fantastic. It’s tight, passionate, hopeful (there’s that word again).  The band are on fire here. From Eddie going to stand with the crowd during the intro, a unique opportunity to experience the band, before stepping back and killing it. Stone, Matt and Jeff (that bass line in the middle of the song, oh baby, it’s like a bass solo within the song) hold down the engine room. You can feel the connection between everyone; band and audience, all linked to the intent of the song. The energy builds with the song; desire, determination and resolve, swirling, intensifying, the crowd become swept into the performance, a rising, connecting power, before Mike lights up an electrifying solo to bring the song home. Hallejuah! Make yourself a promise in the midst of this song, and you will leave committed to it.

(Live performance as described above)

The world can grind you down.  At times you need to take some time alone to reconnect with yourself before you can connect back to it.  This song, particularly this live version, always does that for me. It doesn’t fix what may be broken, but it helps me remember that it can be fixed.  That’s often enough to get started. Something like what a good friend would do.

By Fox Freeman