Fan Club Single #3 – You F**kin’ Little What? Part 2

by John Reynolds on December 9, 2009

One definition of “Ramblings” as an adjective is “straying from one subject to another; desultory”. While I don’t know what the word “desultory” means, the “Ramblings” B-sides on Pearl Jam’s first three Christmas singles surely live up to their name.

The Ramblings Trilogy

The first “Ramblings” from 1991 was a spontaneous verbal letter from the band to its fans talking about Christmas, Slayer and Stone’s insistence that “Satan” is not an anagram of “Santa”. The second “Ramblings” from 1992 was a more artistic endeavor with another message to fans interspersed with random audio clips from movies, TV and music.

The third “Ramblings” is the B-side of a gorgeous love song called “Angel“. For everything that “Ramblings” was in the previous two years, this “Ramblings” is … ummm … unique. It’s not tender, not subtle, not carefully worded. It is a “message” and is certainly “directed” to fans, but done less gently. OK, I think you know where I’m going with this. There’s no point trying to be politically correct, so let’s just cut to the chase.

This is Part Two of a two-part Artifactor on Fan Club Single #3.  Go to Part One – “Angel”

Bombs, Droppin’ Down

Otherwise known as “Fuck Me in the Brain“, “Ramblings” is a violent sonic assault and F-bomb laden tirade recorded live from the Empire Polo Grounds, Indio, California on November 5, 1993. This concert was one of the most circulated (and best sounding) bootlegs from that tour and is infamous for “the shoe-throwing incident”, where fans threw so many shoes and other objects at the stage, that the band even played a song sheltered behind their amplifiers.

Whether it was the fans or something else that set Ed off, we may never know. Give the video below a quick look and see for yourself. We’ve even supplied the words so you can sing along!

Origins

Brett Eliason, Pearl Jam’s Sound Engineer since 1991, told TwoFeetThick.com how “Fuck Me in the Brain” emerged as a candidate for the Christmas Single. “I mixed a bunch of live material from (the Vs.) tour all at one session.  This was the first year that we multi-tracked each show.  I mixed that cut as it had a ton of attitude – obviously.  As I remember it, the band was going through my mixes – which were on a DAT tape – and after they heard that cut, Stone looked up and said “Well, I think we have our Christmas single“.  I remember a pretty good grin that went along with that statement.”

Laden with profanity, the track – including banter – includes 20 “fuck”s, 1 “shit” and a “cunt”! Sorry to be crass, but don’t shoot the messenger! The funny thing about the whole profanity thing, though, is that regardless of all the F-bombs, Sony Music chose to censor the word “cunt” from the final product, replacing it with an awkward “bleep”. We know this for sure because the test pressing of the single was not censored, and Brett said he didn’t do it either, “I think Sony censored that word.  Had we done it from our end we would simply have cut the vocal.”

At the song’s close, Ed’s half-joking-half-not dialogue with the fans is self-explanatory once you see the video above. The audio on the single itself ends after “Ok, I think we’ve got enough shoes”, but we chose to show a little more of the video as the band went into an break anyway.

One last quirk of the track is during Ed’s banter. While Ed is speaking and Mike is noodling on his guitar, there is an indistinguishable voice track. The voice track appears not only backwards, but also of varying speed. Whether due to 16 years of elapsed time or a solemn pact of secrecy, Brett answered “I have no idea” when asked of his recollection of this sample.

Liveage

To the best of our knowledge, “Fuck Me in the Brain” was a “one-time, one-time only” event.  The song was previously listed as being performed twice on the Concert Chronology and on PearlJam.com, but video of the second performance from Boulder, Colorado, later in the month shows that “Fuck Me in the Brain” was a “Daughter” tag and doesn’t resemble the Indio rendition.

Conclusion

Since this Christmas single actually arrived in 1994, and the latter part of the year was consumed by Dave’s exit, the Ticketmaster battle and Jack Irons’ hiring, the next Christmas single did not arrive until 1995 – a double 45rpm single with no “Ramblings, Part 4″.

Although CDs were the medium of the day and MP3s were still years away, the band’s choice to continue with the vinyl format allowed their relationship with fans to remain somewhat sacred, knowing that this non-commercial direct-mailed single would remain their way of expressing their state as a band – in this case, a polarized state of beauty and angst. And this is why the Christmas single can always be called one thing: a present.

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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