About the Song:
January 8, 1991. Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas. 16-year-old Jeremy Wade Delle missed class, so his English teacher told him to go the office to get an admittance slip. The boy returned with a gun, walked to the front of the classroom, placed the barrel in his mouth, and fired, killing himself SF in front of 30 students. WK
Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam, was inspired to write a song about the incident after reading about it in the Dallas Morning News. Vedder combined the details of that story with his own memories from junior high in San Diego, California. WK A kid in his class brought a gun to school one day and shot at a fish tank. In the song, Vedder references his own experiences of fighting with the boy. SF
The song was released as the third single for Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten. While it is possibly the best-known song in the band’s canon, it didn’t initially chart on the Billboard Hot 100, although it did hit #5 on both the mainstream and alternative rock charts. The song did eventually make it to the pop charts three years later upon a July 1995 reissue, eeking its way onto the chart at #79. WK
The iconic video for the song mixes shots reflecting the incidents described in the song interspersed with clips of the band performing. The director, Mark Pellington, passed on it originally, but dove in after Vedder explained the back story to the song. Because of MTV’s policy against showing firearms, Pellington had to cut a shot of the gun going in Jeremy’s mouth. An image of the classmates with blood spattered on them implied Jeremy shot himself, but it was sometimes interpreted as him shooting his classmates. SF Entertainment Weekly’s Michel Romero described it as “an Afterschool Special from hell.” WK Regardless, it won Video of the Year at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards. SF
First posted 5/9/2020; last updated 12/27/2022.