Ten: A Study In Pink

by Jessica Letkemann on August 25, 2006

Ten @ 15
Ten was released fifteen years ago on August 27, 1991
(click to see cover unfolded)

It’s pink, it’s tres early-90s, and it’s packed with nuanced and obscure PJ information. What is it? The liner notes of Ten. As Neil Young famously sang, “there’s more to the picture / than meets the eye.” As we come upon the fifteenth anniversary of Ten, TFT goes deep.

THE COVER

Pearl Jam version 1.0 strikes an “all-for-one” pose on the cover. All five members lean together each with one hand aloft, all five hands combining to point skyward. On the CD version, which is the version most fans first came to own and know, only the part of the photo with the combined hands against the white letters “Pearl Jam” (and the much larger pink letters “EAR,” part of “PEARL”) is visible. We aren’t sure if they were going for a “mother of pearl” effect with the texturing of the white letters, but it would be pretty funny if that’s what they intended (Read more about the logo below) In a nod to the band’s love of vinyl, the CD’s cover actually unfolds into a 15″ by 15″ mini-poster, slightly larger than the size of an LP.

“With vinyl you get to read the cereal box while eating your cereal.”

Eddie Vedder, Raygun magazine, March 1995

Only in folded-out form is the entire intended cover visible. There you see Mike (in his Stevie Ray Vaughn-esque black hat and jeans) and Eddie (in a black shirt of the club the Limelight, cargo shorts, reddish, tie-died long johns, and black Doc Martens) in the front of the shot. To the right of Eddie is Stone, the most illuminated figure on the cover, wearing Levi’s and a flowery jacket. Next to Stoney, barely visible at all, is part of original drummer Dave Krusen’s face. Krusen, ironically, was no longer even in the band when the album was released. Between Dave and Mike is Jeff, wearing a Love-Bone-tastic ensemble of Nikes (with white socks), an off-the-shoulder tank top, trademark Jeff-hat, and baggy blue shorts over what appear to be black tights. It’s his reaching left hand that’s tallest and forming the “#1″ gesture.

Look a little closer and it becomes clear that the band member’s photo has been composited atop another photo that forms the background of pink letters against a brick wall. Jeff, who is credited with Ten‘s “art direction / concept,” could have done the letters in miniature, but instead he actually built five-foot tall white letters, propped up with wooden slats, and Lance Mercer – who later collaborated on the PJ photo book Place/Date — photographed them against the whitewashed brick wall of what we’re pretty sure is the main floor of the Galleria Potatohead, the art gallery Pearl Jam used the basement of as rehearsal space in their early days. The letters and the brick wall did turn up in some of PJ’s subsequent artwork too: Stone and Jeff are shown discussing the formation of the band in front of those letters in the Ten Video Press Kit; a photo of Mike McCready, with a curtain over his head, on the main floor of Potatohead next to the brick wall and the letters “JAM” forms the label of the b-side of the 1992 Ten Club Christmas single.

The photo on the cover and on the second inside page of the liner notes to 2004′s Rearviewmirror best-of album are also from the same shoot that produced the cover of Ten. Further inside the Rearviewmirror liner notes booklet, there’s a photo of Jeff actually building the wooden “PEARL JAM” letters himself. Scattered around him are the signs of how they were constructed: a heavy-duty staple gun, spray adhesive, and light-colored paint in a tray with a roller.

Arts & Crafts: How to make a Pearl Jam logo for an album cover
The famous “Pearl Jam” logo on the cover of Ten was designed by local artist Steve Pitstick. Steve said “I was contacted in the summer of 1990 by PJ bassist Jeff Ament to create the sculpted logo for the cover. I had previously done large wall displays for Green River and Mother Love Bone as a display artist at Tower Records, which Jeff had liked. The logo was sculpted from 2″ foamboard, then covered with a concoction of clear bathroom caulk mixed with iridescent paint. Once it was finished, Jeff and I took the piece over to photographer Lance Mercer’s house where (the photo below) was taken along with the one eventually used on the cover.”

Below you can see pictures of a 5″ x 4″ transparency from the photo session with Lance Mercer.



THE SONGS

Flipping the unfolded CD insert over, the guts of the liner notes are exposed: lyrics or partial lyrics to each song surround credits and thank you’s atop a silhouette of the “all for one” shot from the front cover. Many of the songs just feature lyrics handwritten or typed by Eddie, but there are some subtle extras that add another layer of meaning.

EVEN FLOW

Click image to Enlarge

“Even Flow” is represented by a dollar bill, shot in photo negative. Most folks notice that Ed has written some of the words along the perimeter of the bill (“Evenflow… thoughts arrive like butterflies, he don’t know so he chases them away… someday yet he’ll begin his life again”) and atop the large “ONE” in the center of the bill, he’s written “Even Flow (Not Even)” and circled “In God We Trust.” Less obvious, he also wrote “whispering hands” above and below the eye pyramid to the left of the “One,” and “gently lead him away” around the eagle to the right of the “One.”

Eddie’s “Whispering” obscures the bill’s words “Annuit Coeptis” (Latin for “He has favored our undertakings,” adapted from a line in ancient poet Virgil’s Annead), and his “hands” obscures the words “novus ordo seclorum” (Latin for “a new order of the ages,” adapted from Virgil’s Eclogue). The countless books written about the codes and symbols used on American currency concur that the pyramid represents the 13 colonies (thirteen layers of bricks with 1776 in Roman Numerals on the base) with an “Eye of Providence” on top (the eye is meant to be the “eye of God,” looking out for humanity, it dates back to the Egyptians,) and point out that the Eagle is a symbol of America and it’s clutching an olive branch with thirteen leaves (peace, the 13 colonies) and thirteen arrows (war, again 13 colonies).

ALIVE

Click image to Enlarge

Eddie has talked extensively over the years about how “Alive” is partially autobiographical, so it’s no wonder he decided to “sign” the bottom of the lyrics with his birth name, “-Edward Louis Severson III.” This was most prominently pointed out by Eddie and writer Cameron Crowe in Rolling Stone in 1993. “I’m actually a junior,” Ed said. “My real name is something-something the third.” Crowe added, “fans can find it in the song credits to ‘Alive,’ on Ten.”

WHY GO

Click image to Enlarge

The liner notes to this song have two notable aspects: the scratched-out lyrics, and the notation “4 Heather” at the bottom. Ed seems to have originally written part of the song in first person, “I’ve been diagnosed,” has been scribbled over, and “she’s been diagnosed,” written instead. Elsewhere, “she could play the game, just to be another clone” is scratched out, and “she could play the game, she could be another clone” written instead.

“4 Heather,” which appears to be written in Jeff’s handwriting, was explained by Eddie in two specific early interviews:

“The song ‘Why Go Home” was written about a specific girl in Chicago who, I think her mom caught her smoking pot or something. She was about 13 years old and she was just fine. I think her mom thought she had some troubles when I think it was really maybe the parents that were having troubles and the next thing you know, this young girl was in a hospital. They kept her there for quite a long time. She was so strong that she refused to accept many of the accusations of her doing terrible things when she wasn’t really doing anything and the next thing you know …she’d been hospitalized for like two years.” –Eddie Vedder, December 1991, KLOL FM, Exposure With David Sadoff

“She was stuck in a home because she was, like, caught smoking pot or something. This is what they do in Chicago, in the suburbs. …This girl Heather was in for two years, two fucking years, and she’s one of the smartest kids I knew.” -Eddie Vedder, Spin, December 1993 (in this same article, Ed also discussed how “Leash” is also about Heather from “Why Go.”)

Release

The only song with no lyrics included, we debated among ourselves about whether the word “me” (as in “release me”)appears if you turn the page 90 degrees counterclockwise. You be the judge.
Click image to Enlarge

CREDITS

Click image to Enlarge

Most of the “who did what” and “who wrote what” credits in Ten are pretty straight forward. But fans have been stumped for years about where exactly the “fire extinguisher, pepper shaker” that Tim Palmer, who also mixed the album, is audible. To the best of our knowledge, it was only explained once. Palmer told Guitar magazine in December 2002 that those “instruments” appear on “Oceans”: “I used the pepper mill as a shaker and used drum sticks on the extinguisher as a sort of bell effect. At about 30 seconds into the song you can hear the pepper shaker on the left and the fire extinguisher on the right. It’s all fairly subtle stuff, really. The reason I used those items was purely because we were so far from a musical rental shop [at Ridge Farm Studios in rural England, where the album was mixed] and necessity became the mother of invention.”

THANK YOUS

Click image to Enlarge

Ever wondered who all those people are who got thanked in Ten? Us too. Here’s the run down. There are a few we don’t know, so if you have any information on those, please contact us using the form at the end of this article.

BAND THANKS

  • Kelly and Peggy Curtis: Pearl Jam’s manager and his wife.
  • Michael Goldstone: the record co. A&R exec who signed both Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam to their record contracts.
  • Jack Irons: Erstwhile Red Hot Chili Pepper who hooked up Eddie with Stone and Jeff.
  • Tal Goettling: Seattle musician and longtime bandmate of original PJ drummer Dave Krusen. Tal was the guy responsible for hooking Dave up with an audition for Stone and Jeff.
  • Richard Leher: the band’s attorney
  • Michele Anthony: Sony Music second in command who oversaw Pearl Jam’s dealings with the label.
  • Richard Griffiths: an exec at Epic Records
  • Dave Glew: chairman of Epic Records
  • Debbie: We aren’t sure if this is a nod to the early fan club staffer or someone else.
  • Penny and the “West” team: We’re pretty sure these are the west coast Epic staffers who dealt with PJ
  • Rick and Raj Parashar: Rick produced the album, Rick and his brother Raj ran the studio, London Bridge, where the album was recorded.
  • Matt Cameron: Then, he was the Soundgarden skinsman who was the pinch hit drummer for Stone’s 1990 demos, the same instrumental demos sent to Ed by Jack Irons. By the time Ten came out, Matt was also in Temple of the Dog.
  • Chris Cornell: Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog singer.
  • Susan Silver:Soundgarden’s manager and Chris Cornell’s wife.
  • Christine and Soundgarden: We have no clue who Christine is, Soundgarden is, of course, the band.
  • Alice In Chains: They were the headliners on PJ’s very first tour, February 1991. Even before that, PJ (as Mookie Blaylock) were their opening band for some of PJ’s key early shows.
  • Tommy and War Babies: Jeff Ament was actually the bassist for War Babies in the summer of 1990, but he opted to jump ship for Stone’s new band. Good choice, Jeff. “Tommy” is Tommy McMullin, War Babies’ guitarist. WB’s drummer was Richard Stuverud, more on him below.
  • Love Co. (Tim, Richard, Chris, Shawn): Curiously misspelled here, Luv Co. was an informal cover band that played gigs in Seattle in 1990. The members were Jeff Ament, Mike McCready, Richard Stuverud (who has also been in both Three Fish and War Babies with Jeff; and the Fastbacks, long before they opened for Pearl Jam), Shawn Smith (later lead singer of Stone’s side band, Brad), Chris Friel (the drummer of Mike’s childhood band, Shadow, he also played on Stone’s 1990 demos). You may have also noticed photos of Stone wearing a Luv Co. shirt in 1992-3.
  • Dana Cook: another of Pearl Jam’s attorneys
  • Marc Reiter and the “East” team: a band management guy who went on to rep Metallica and others.
  • Cameron Crowe and the entire “Singles” crew: The famous writer and director of the movie Singles, which the members of PJ acted in.
  • Josh Taft: A high school pal of Stone’s and also the guy who directed the videos for “Alive” and “Even Flow.”
  • Dobbis & Davitt: Rick Dobbis, Sony International exec. Davitt Sigerson, a musician who co-wrote a Kiss song, was an exec at PolyGram, the record conglomerate that signed Mother Love Bone.
  • Bruce & Greg: Bruce Fairweather and Greg Gilmore, Mother Love Bone’s guitarist and drummer, respectively.
  • Sexecutioner (Eric, Keith, George & Randy): Sexecutioner was an impromptu joke band made up of PJ crew members.
  • The Entire Love Bone Earth Affair: The Mother Love Bone fan club, associated crew, and staffers.
  • Jol Dantzig: founder of Hamer guitars. The liner notes specify that Jeff prefers Hamer basses.
  • Russ Riedner: When Mike’s band, Shadow, broke up, Mike essentially stopped playing guitar. It was Riedner, who went on to form the band Cheap Ones, who convinced Mike to start playing again, just in time for Stone to ask him to join Pearl Jam.
  • John Troutman: no information.
  • The Friels: Chris and Rick Friel were the drummer and bassist of Mike’s pre-PJ band, Shadow. Both were also later in The Rockfords with him.
  • Bathtub Gin: An early 90s Seattle band that played on bills with Mookie Blaylock. Mike used to be known to sport Bathtub Gin t-shirts fairly frequently.
  • Doug Pinnick: bassist and singer of King’s X, who later opened for Pearl Jam. Jeff also collaborated on a thus-far unreleased album with him.
  • Alex & Valerie: We don’t know.
  • Potatohead People: the staff and management of La Galleria Potatohead, the art space that Pearl Jam rehearsed in the basement of.
  • Tim Dewan and S.D.P.C: We’re stumped.
  • Yosemite Gurning Crew: Our best guestimate is that this is an affectionate name for the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other bands who invited Ed on a pivotal camping trip to Yosemite in 1990. “Gurning,” if you are curious, is an obscure word for “making weird faces.”
  • Cindy Ganz: to the best of our knowledge, she’s a Seattle based artist.
  • Deena and “The Mookster”: Don’t know who Deena is, but the Mookster is Mookie Blaylock, then a player for the New Jersey Nets.
  • Sweet Al and the Julesmang: We’re stumped except for the fact that “Sweet Al George” is the name of a song by Stone’s side band, Brad.
  • All the folks at Ridge Farm: Ridge Farm, being, of course, the studio where the album was mixed.

FAMILY THANKS

  • Angel Beth: Eddie’s then-girlfriend Beth Liebling
  • Mother Vedder: Eddie’s mom.
  • Brothers Mueller: Eddie’s three little brothers.
  • Sister Parish: Ed’s long-lost half sister, Gina. When she had a son, Ed bragged about becoming an uncle at the Houston show in 2000 (“I want to show you a picture of my nephew,” Ed said. “He’s a Texan, name’s Garrett. And I’m gonna dedicate this one to him. It’s called ‘Wishlist.’”).
  • Edward Louis Severson II: Eddie’s biological father.
  • Great Grandma Pearl: Eddie’s great grandma, for real.
  • George, Penny, & Ament Crew: Jeff’s dad, mom, and sisters.
  • Barry: Jeff’s younger brother.
  • Roy, Louise & McCready family et al: Roy and Louise are Mike’s mom and dad.
  • Dave, Carolyn, Star, Shelly & Eleanor Gossard: Dave and Carolyn are Stone’s dad and mom. Star and Shelly are Stone’s sisters (yep, all have the initials SG, yep, all have touchy-feely earthy names – Star, Stone, Shell). We aren’t sure who Eleanor is.
  • Carol, Jay, Larry & Cheryl Krusen: Drummer Dave Krusen’s family

Special thanks to Steve D’Amico

Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based digital music journalist & editor. She's currently VP & Editor-In-Chief of Digital at Fuse Media (Fuse.tv) and was previously managing editor of Billboard.com. She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

Leave a Comment