For the first single off Pearl Jam's upcoming PJ20 soundtrack, the two-decade-old band has decided to share a cover song that actually predates the Pearl Jam story, yet is an indispensable part of their history. Seattle rockers Mother Love Bone, which featured future PJers Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, were on the verge of stardom when their lead singer Andrew Wood died of an overdose in 1990. The most popular song from their too-short tenure -- and in our opinion, one of the greatest songs ever, no hyperbole -- was "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns," a multi-suite epic that pretty much laid the musical foundation for Pearl Jam's Ten.
Gossard and Ament, along with the other members of Pearl Jam, have often played "Crown of Thorns" live to pay tribute both to Wood and their pre-Pearl Jam band. One particular performance, from Las Vegas' MGM Grand on October 22, 2000, will serve as PJ20's first single. The choice makes sense since the 29-song soundtrack accompanies a Cameron Crowe-directed documentary that focuses on Pearl Jam's early years. Check it out:
"I asked [Eddie] Vedder about Andrew Wood, the late singer-songwriter of Mother Love Bone, whose passing left the place that Vedder would later fill," Crowe says in PJ20. "Though Vedder chose not to name the song, he did say there was one Wood composition he would be honored to sing 'one day.' He declined to say more."
As huge fans of "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" (and to a lesser extent, Pearl Jam), we heard a bootlegged version of this cover a decade ago. While we have no complaints about Pearl Jam's performance of the song -- it's still sort of Mother Love Bone's performance, if you think about it -- it always irked us that Vedder only opted to sing the "Crown of Thorns" portion of the track and not the tender "Chloe Dancer." However, based on Crowe's quote, Vedder had a deep emotional connection with the song, and probably didn't want to tread on Wood's moment with his own take.
Here's the original: