Where Have You Gone? Forgotten Live Pearl Jam Songs

by Andrew Brenner on August 30, 2011

Mike McCready Practicing

What Is The Next Song I Should Rehearse?

On August 15, Mike McCready took to his Tumblr feed to ask fans “What is the next song I should rehearse?”  Fans certainly replied with their oft-played favorites, but what about “bust outs” – songs that have never been played live or haven’t been played in so long you can’t remember their last performance.

The term “bust out” came into fashion in the genre that really started the “mix up the setlist” approach to concerts: the jam band scene. In talking about songs that hadn’t been played in a long time (generally 100 or more shows), it got us thinking: if Pearl Jam were to produce some bust outs, but what songs meet the definition?  Naturally, we dove into the Concert Chronology to find the answers.

Because we like to categorize, we’ll break “bust outs” into three categories:

  • songs that have never been played
  • originals that haven’t been played in a very long time
  • covers that were once regulars but have since disappeared (we’ll lay some ground rules for that when we get to it.)

Neverlive – songs that haven’t made it out of the studio

  • “Hitchhiker”
  • “In The Moonlight”
  • “Whale Song”
  • “4/20/02″
  • “Strangest Tribe”
  • “Evil Little Goat”
  • “2,000 Mile Blues”
  • “Cready Stomp”
  • “Aye Davanita”
  • “Pry, To”
  • “Hey Foxymophandle Mama, That’s Me”
  • “Red Dot”
  • “Hummus”
  • “Writer’s Block”
  • “Inside Job (Outro)”
  • “Thunderclap”
  • “Foldback”
  • “Harmony”
  • “Santa God”
  • “Turning Mist”
  • “Happy When I’m Crying”

“Hitchhiker,” “In the Moonlight,” “Whale Song” “4/20/02”, and “Strangest Tribe” can all be found on Lost Dogs, but have never seen the light of day.  “Whale Song” is the lone album song fully written by Jack Irons, and as such, seems among the most unlikely of the bunch to be played.  “4/20/02,” Ed’s eulogy for Layne Staley, seems just as impossible, as the band put the song on Lost Dogs as a hidden track to avoid exploiting Staley’s memory.  As for the other 3, none of them have even been soundchecked, so a live liberation seems unlikely at this point.

Elsewhere in the “official” catalog, those that haven’t been played are mainly album throwaways like “Evil Little Goat,” “2,000 Mile Blues”, “Cready Stomp,” “Aye Davanita,” “Pry, To,” “Hey Foxymophandle Mama, That’s Me,” “Red Dot,” “Hummus,” and “Writer’s Block.”

There are also the four instrumental tracks that have seen release; the untitled outro to “Inside Job,” and “Thunderclap,” “Foldback,” and “Harmony” taken from the bonus features of the Touring Band 2000 DVD.  “Santa God”, “Olympic Platinum” and the Jack Irons-penned “Happy When I’m Crying” are original studio cuts that later saw the light of day as Holiday singles, but have also never been played live.  The odds of any of them appearing on the setlist are slim, but, after “Bugs” popping up on October 31, 2009, who knows!

Beyond that, there are a handful of Pearl Jam songs that have trickled out from album sessions, despite never seeing any official release.  “Anything in Between,” a Binaural outtake, and “Sunburn,” a No Code era outtake with Stone on vocals, both leaked on the Rarities Unreleased Cuts promo CD which leaked shortly after Lost Dogs was released.  “I’m Still Here,” a spoken word track with just Ed’s vocal and guitars, also leaked right around Lost Dogs release, originally being mistaken for a Japanese bonus track.

“Better Days,” a Riot Act outtake, leaked in 2010, though the leaked version is speculated to have been a newer recording from the Backspacer sessions.  There are undoubtedly countless more that we haven’t heard anything about; band interviews around the Binaural and Riot Act releases insinuated that the band had recorded two dozen or more songs for each album.  It’s tough to predict songs like this showing up; no one in the Pearl Jam fan community had heard “Of the Earth” before it’s debut on 6/22/2010, and it hadn’t been mentioned since a 2005 MTV interview with Jeff.

Disappearing Acts

It’s hard to say much about songs that have never been played, so let’s take a look at five songs that have been heard by an audience, but then disappeared back into the vault.

Just a Girl
Last played 1/11/1991 – 831 show gap
“Just a Girl” is not only the song with the longest absence from a live setlist, it’s also the quintessential rarity.   One of the first handful of songs the band wrote in October 1990, “Just a Girl” found it’s way onto the setlist of Pearl Jam’s first ever show on 10/22/90 at the Off Ramp.  The second, and last, known performance of the song came in Vancouver on January 11, 1991 at the 4th known show; it has been a ghost ever since.  It’s the only original song performed solely by Mookie Blaylock, but not by Pearl Jam.  So why has it gone away?  That’s a tough question to answer; unlike it’s counterpart “Brother”, the song is not known to have been a sticking point between the band.


Last played 3/13/94, 556 show gap
With music by Dave Abbruzzese, the song features lyrics based on Ed’s interpretation of William Watson’s 1893 short story “The Eloping Angels: A Caprice”.  First played on 5/17/92  on Dave A.’s 24th birthday, the song would only be played three more times, the last at the legendary 3/13/94 show.

Let Me Sleep
Last played 10/1/1994, 495 show gap
From the first Christmas Single in 1991, this gem from the first Ten Club Holiday single has been played just once, at the first night of the 1994 Bridge School Benefit.  Despite some of the most depressing lyrics in the Pearl Jam canon, written about being homeless and alone at Christmas, this song has become a fan favorite over the years.  There was great excitement last week when the PJ20 Soundtrack list revealed a “Let Me Sleep” as being from “Verona, Italy (9/16/06)”.  Cameron Crowe’s webmaster revealed on Pearl Jam’s official message board that this version had been played on the steps on Arena di Verona by Ed and Mike, but was left out of Immagine in Cornice.

Last Soldier
Last played 10/21/2001, 296 show gap

This Mike McCready song was written about a soldier being called off to war in Afghanistan, and was played at both shows of the 2001 Bridge School Benefit, and the second night’s take was released on the 2001 Holiday Single.

Help Help
Last played 7/12/2003, 223 show gap
“Help Help”, Jeff Ament’s lone solo songwriting credit on Riot Act, this has become the least played song on Pearl Jam’s least-played album.  In fact, only 4 songs from the 15 track album were played at all on the band’s 2010 tour, and only “Save You” was played more than twice.  But Jeff’s other songwriting contribution from that album, the b-side “Other Side”, did appear out of nowhere at last year’s Bridge School Benefit.

Other songs that haven’t been seen in over 100 shows:

  • “Get Right”, last played 221 shows ago on 7/17/03;
  • “Arc,” last played 220 shows ago on 7/18/03 (note: Played on 2008, 2011 EV tours)
  • “Dirty Frank,” last played 117 shows ago on 9/9/06,
  • “Around the Bend,” last played 104 shows ago on 10/22/06.

Dusty Covers

Covers have been an integral part of the Pearl Jam live experience since the very early days, and there have been dozens of songs that the band has covered on at least two occasions.  In order to make this list as useful as possible, we limited the eligible cover songs to those that appeared on more than one tour.  As such,  songs like “Let My Love Open the Door,” “Know Your Rights,” and “Ain’t Nothin’ to Do” that were only covered on one tour were not in consideration.  What does that leave?

My Generation
Last played 6/30/1998, 415 show gap
The first Pearl Jam Who cover, the Pearl Jam history of this classic is interesting.  It was first played as a 40-second snippet on 2/22/92, and 5 days later a full version was covered.  It promptly went back into hiding for 18 months before being pulled out at 2 of the first 1993 shows, before it disappeared again for almost all of the 1993 and ’94 tours.  It emerged in a slowed down bluesy version at the legendary Springfield, MA show on 4/6/94, and that same bluesy take served as a 2 minute intro to the “Porch” of 6/30/1998.  Since then, the song has gone into retirement, and with Pearl Jam’s vast array of Who covers currently in the rotation, it looks like this one will stay in the background.

I’ve Got A Feelin’
Last played 9/29/2004, 214 show gap
The original Pearl Jam cover, and still the favorite of many a Pearl Jam fan, this Beatles cover has been around since the very beginning.  It was the third track on the first promo cassette the band sent to former Mother Love Bone fan club members in May of 1991, but it had been recorded well before then, as Jeff mentioned it in the very first newsletter in March.  The song debuted live at one Pearl Jam’s rare 1991 standalone shows, the 9/28/91 show at Satyricon in Portland, OR.  It became a staple of the bands longer sets in 1991 and 1992, the long form jam eventually being phased out by covers like “Baba O’Riley,” “Fuckin’ Up,” “Sonic Reducer,” and, of course, “Rockin in the Free World.”  It was played only once in 1993, on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and then once in 1994 on the crew-written setlist of 4/12/94.  Proving that Pearl Jam has a memory unrivaled in popular music, the song made an amazing surprise reappearance on 9/29/2004 at the Fleet Center in Boston, intro’ed by Ed as “Ten years ago we played this in Boston, we haven’t played it since, we’re gonna try.” It’s moments like that which give every fan hope that their long lost favorites will someday return.

Act of Love

Last played 10/2/2004, 212 show gap
A Neil Young song for which Pearl Jam served as the backing band on 1995’s Mirror Ball, this song has appeared at a handful of Pearl Jam shows, and has been guested on by Young Neil himself twice.  The song was only played twice in the last 15 years, and one of them was with Neil.  Perhaps the worst sign for the return of this cover was when the band started playing “Throw Your Hatred Down” in 2009.  Same record, different track (as a wise man once said) and it likely meant that “Act of Love” will have to hope for another Neil Young collaboration to see daylight again.

I Am a Patriot
Last played 10/5/2004, 210 show gap
Written by Stevie Van Sandt for the Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul 1983 Voice of America album, this song appeared intermittently on Pearl Jam setlists from 1992-2004, with 2003 marking it’s strongest year.  A peaceful anti-war song, this song (like the two above) has disappeared since the 2004 Vote for Change tour.  As politics have taken more of a backseat in Pearl Jam shows, this song, and the other political Pearl Jam covers, have likely gone away for good.

Timeless Melody
Last played 10/8/2004, 208 show gap
This unabashed pop song, originally released in September 1990 by Liverpool’s The La’s, became the surprise Pearl Jam cover of 2000, making the setlist at nine shows.  Significantly more upbeat than most Pearl Jam covers, the song made a surprise appearance at the last show of the Vote for Change tour on 10/8/2004 with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie joining on vocals.  That performance caught many Pearl Jam fans offguard; seven years later, a return for this track would be even more shocking.

Other “qualifying” cover songs which have been missing for over 100 shows are:

  • “Bleed for Me” – the Dead Kennedys
  • “The Kids Are Alright” – The Who
  • “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • “I Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Bridging the Gaps

Which of these songs would you like to hear the most?  What are you predictions for Pearl Jam 20?  Let us know in the comments, and let’s get excited!

Andrew Brenner
Andrew Brenner is a NYC-based financial professional and Pearl Jam history junkie. He's traveled far and wide to see the band since 1993, his first show being August 18, 1993, Toronto, ONT and favorite still 9/11/98 Madison Square Garden, NY, NY.

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