Today is the 20th anniversary of Pearl Jam’s fifth album Yield. The band are airing a 20th anniversary celebration on Pearl Jam Radio today, it will be replayed tomorrow as well. A few days ago they rebroadcast the Monkeywrench Radio broadcast that took place around the time Yield came out. The album was released just a year or so after the Grunge era had come to a close, with Alice In Chains falling apart after a very short run of 1996 live performances, Soundgarden breaking up in 1997, and Stone Temple Pilots going on hiatus in 1997.
While No Code was a classic, it was a very experimental album and Yield reestablished Pearl Jam as an arena rock heavyweight. The Yield tour was Pearl Jam’s most extensive in years, and laid the groundwork for the legendary live act the band has become in the last 20 years.
“Given to Fly” is a pillar of the album and has become one of Pearl Jam’s most beloved songs. Guitarist Mike McCready explained to Alternative Nation a couple of years ago how he came up with the music to the track.
“With ‘Given to Fly’ it was kind of an easy process. I came up with the whole idea, and I just worked on it on a snow day, when it actually snowed in Seattle back then in [1997 or 1998]. I think I worked up a demo of it, and then brought it into the band, and we just kind of kicked it around, and Ed seemed inspired by it. He would start singing melodies, and ideas and words. There wasn’t really any structure per se, from what I recall vocally, other than some melodies when we first were working on it. And then he, as he will do, will take it in the back room and bring his typewriter out, and start typing on his old school typewriter, and coming up with some lyrics. This may have happened over the couple of days after I had brought it in. He comes back, and starts singing, and it’s like oh my god, this is amazing.
With Ed, when he gets inspired, he does it 100%, and he goes in and he takes his time with it too. It could have taken longer than a couple of days, but when the first early demos of it were done, it was very exciting. It’s a situation where a song gets better because [now that] there are lyrics to it, and your band have made it better. Jeff [Ament]’s playing a bass a certain way, or Stone [Gossard]’s bringing in a little melody that I would never think of, or at that time Jack Irons was bringing kind of a groovy drum beat shuffly thing that I wouldn’t have thought of.”
PearlJamOnline have put together a beautiful tribute video to 20 years of Yield featuring “Given to Fly.” Watch below!