Pearl Jam’s ‘Lightning Bolt’: 23 More Facts So Far

by Jessica Letkemann on September 10, 2013

There’s been a lot of new “Lightning Bolt” info to keep track of. Following our roundup of 10 things back in July, here are 23 MORE facts that we know so far about PJ’s upcoming 10th album.

Arrays of teeny tidbits about Pearl Jam’s forthcoming “Lightning Bolt” have been sown all around the interwebs for the last couple of months since the album announcement, from radio DJs who mention they’ve heard it (but are mum on details) and Brendan O’Brien giving interviews, to the band itself teasing us via its site, Vine, Twitter, Instagram and especially YouTube with plenty of official morsels of information. It’s a lot to keep track of, but I’m certainly trying. Following my initial roundup of 10 things back in July, here are 23 MORE facts that we know so far about “Lightning Bolt.” Is is October 15, yet?

1. Pearl Jam revealed the tracklist by tweet, Vine and Instagram during the week of August 23. In case you somehow missed that, it’s twelve songs in this order: 1) Getaway 2) Mind Your Manners 3) My Father’s Son 4) Sirens 5) Lightning Bolt 6) Infallible 7) Pendulum 8) Swallowed Whole 9) Let The Records Play 10) Sleeping By Myself 11) Yellow Moon 12) Future Days

2. The album was recorded over the course of two sessions, one in early 2012 and one earlier this year at Los Angeles’ Hansen Recording Studios, according to producer Brendan O’Brien.

3. Mike McCready told 99.3 CFox radio in Vancouver yesterday (Sept. 9) that “about 30″ song ideas (“riffs and basic outlines of ideas”) were in play for the album over the course of the two sessions; 14 in the first session and 15 in the second.

4. Mike also told CFox that “Getaway,” “Lightning Bolt,” “Mind Your Manners,” and “Let The Records Play” were brought in for and recorded during the second session, the one from earlier in 2013.

5. “Yellow Moon” almost didn’t make the album: “I wanted it, so we added that song of Jeff’s,” Mike said to CFox.

6. “Mind Your Manners” has an official video, directed by photographer Danny Clinch and posted on Aug. 23 to YouTube, which features the band rocking out in front of a screen onto which is projected various scenes of disaster (bombs, rising seas, hurricanes).

7. Bassist Jeff Ament, ever the Pearl Jam visual artist, had a big hand in the look and feel accompanying “Lightning Bolt” — and a Montana connection. The animated portions of the “Mind Your Manners” video were done by fellow Montana native Andy Smetanka and it was Jeff who enlisted him. “Jeff Ament made a generous donation to my Kickstarter campaign,” Smetanka told the Missoula News in August. “I sent him a message to ask him how he wanted to take delivery on his custom light box, and he wrote back asking if I was interested in “creating some images” for Pearl Jam. Hell yes, I replied.”

8. Continuing the Ament/graphic design connection, the “Lightning Bolt” tracklist unveiling included artwork for each track, which matched the visual style of the already seen red/black/white/yellow “Lightning Bolt” cyclops artwork and “Mind Your Manners” dinner-plate-with-gun. Turns out it we have skate artist/designer Don Pendleton (@pendledon / elephont.com) to thank for the artwork. A handwritten note from Jeff Ament posted to PearlJam.com on August 23 says, in part, “Don Pendleton has been one of my favorite visual artists over the past few years and we’re honored to work with him on Lightning Bolt. He killed it. Thanks. Jeff.”

9. The song “Lightning Bolt,” which fans got to hear when PJ premiered it live at Wrigley Field on July 19/20, was written by Eddie Vedder, according to Mike (talking to CFox).

10. “Infallible” is an example of Pearl Jam exploring “new territory” (again, per Mike talking to CFox) and the song was written by Jeff Ament.

11. In addition to a tantalizing glimpse of the Pearl Jam vault filled with row after row of tapes of rare song outtakes (“Chinese,” “Weatherman”) and live material (including Eddie Vedder live in 2008 and Brad shows), the black-and-white “Mind Your Manners” vignette PJ posted to YouTube on Sept. 3 features Eddie typing out the lyrics to the song, which certainly helps decipher certain hard-to-figure-out bits of the words: “What they’re taking / is more than a vow / they’re taking young innocence and then they throw [?] on a burning…”

12. The ominous music that plays during the PJ 2013 North American tour video clip remains unidentified.

13. The video clip that PJ posted on YouTube to help announce “Lightning Bolt” back on July 11 includes Jeff Ament playing a 12-string bass on something (interesting).

14. “Mind Your Manners” was written by Eddie (lyrics) and Mike (music), per PearlJam.com’s

15. Brendan O’Brien, who guested at Wrigley, also plays keys on the album version of “Future Days.”

16. If the song title “Sleeping By Myself” sounds familiar, it should. Eddie released his uke version of that tune on his solo album “Ukulele Songs” in 2011.

17. Pearl Jam posted a video vignette of Jeff playing upright acoustic bass with the hashtag #LightningBolt.

18. “Sirens” is “very melodic and beautiful,” says Brendan.

19. “Swallowed Whole,” is both the name of a song on “Lightning Bolt” and part of a lyric from the 2009 Pearl Jam song “Unthought Known” (“swallowed whole in negatives”).

20. The existence of “My Father’s Son” means now PJ could (if they wanted to) play a set including most of the family, joining PJ songs “Brother” and “Daughter” and covers “Mother” (Pink Floyd) and “Little Sister” (Elvis Presley).

21. “Yellow Moon” is the third Pearl Jam song with that hue in the title (see also “Yellow Ledbetter,” “Black Red Yellow.”) If they wanted to, the band could now play a colors-only encore: “Spin The Black Circle,” “Red Mosquito,” “Black,” “Yellow Moon,” “Black Red Yellow,” “Green Disease,” and “Yellow Ledbetter.”

22. The word “siren” hearkens back to Greek mythology, in which a siren was a kind of an enchanting women of the sea whose beautiful, irresistible singing tricked sailors and led to many a shipwreck. Named based on mythology, in the modern sense a siren, of course, is a loud alarm.

23. Brendan O’Brien told Billboard the following about “Lightning Bolt”: “I think it’s a great representation of their work right now. . . If you like Pearl Jam, you’ll love this. And if you haven’t listened to Pearl Jam in awhile, I think it’s going to bring you in. That’s the whole idea.”

See Also: Pearl Jam’s ‘Lightning Bolt’: 10 Facts So Far

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