Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pearl Jam released “Just Breathe”

First posted 5/7/2020.

Just Breathe

Pearl Jam

Writer(s): Eddie Vedder (see lyrics here)

Released: October 31, 2009

First Charted: November 7, 2009

Peak: 78 US, 20 A40, 113 AA, 36 AR, 6 MR, 14 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 43.25 video, -- streaming

Awards (Pearl Jam version):

Awards (Willie Nelson version):

About the Song:

As big as Pearl Jam had been since their beginnings in 1991, it took nine albums before they pulled off a platinum-selling single – “Just Breathe” from 2009’s Backspacer. The song grew out of “Tuolumne,” an instrumental on the Into the Wild soundtrack by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. It was released as a double A-side along with “Got Some.” WK

Vedder described it as being “as close to a love song as we’ve ever gotten.” SF It says, “Just stop, and be together. Don’t talk now, just breathe and feel each other’s presence – now that the kids are in bed.” SF Jennifer Warnes, who covered it on her 2018 album Another Time, Another Place, said the song has a universal them about mortality: “[It] is on everybody’s mind at one time or another.” SF

One can hear the reflective meditation on life in Vedder’s aching, angst-ridden, middle-aged voice. However, the song took on even more weight in the hands of Willie Nelson, who released his version on his 2012 album Heroes, just days shy of his 79th birthday. It chills the listener the way Johnny Cash did with Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” The difference? The posthumous success of Cash’s recording, combined with a video showcasing his fragility at the end of his life turned it into an epitaph for Cash. Nelson made it clear he wasn’t drawing his last breath just yet.

In fact, with his laid-back delivery and familiar, gravelly voice, Nelson still taps into the song’s retrospective nature, but there’s a satisfaction with a life well lived. As another bonus, the song pairs Willie with his best vocal impersonator – his son Lukas. If possible, with his twangier voice, Lukas sounds more like Willie than Willie does.

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