Edited by Brett Buchanan
It is no secret: Stone Gossard is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Aside from Pearl Jam, he has been a guitarist in other prominent Seattle bands like Green River, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, and Brad.
Gossard is celebrating his 50th birthday today, and Alternative Nation has compiled a list of our favorite Stone songs and moments to celebrate.
Whether it is geeky lyrics, powerful riffs, or loud solos, Gossard brings an element to Pearl Jam that brings their well rounded sound a more quirky, but serene undertone.
10. Satan’s Bed from Vitalogy
“Who made up the myth that we were born to be covered in bliss? Who set the standard, born to be rich?”
Satan’s Bed is one of the lesser played songs from Pearl Jam’s extensive catalogue. Since 1994, it has only been played 32 times. Gossard normally stays still through most of his performances, but has been known to bust a move when the moment is right. In 2013, the band performed the song on the second night of their Alpine Valley run in Wisconsin.
(In the video, you can see Gossard dance around the 1:50 mark.)
9. Fatal from Lost Dogs
“If he’s truly out of sight, is he truly out of mind?”
After being left off Binaural, Fatal has become a sought after song to hear live. Having only been played six times from 2003 to 2014, the most popular version of this song comes from the band’s 2003 Benaroya Hall performance. The entire performance was acoustic and this version really shows how versatile Gossard’s guitar style is.
8. All Or None from Riot Act
“Here’s the selfless confession leading me back to war. Can we help that our destinations are the ones we’ve been before?”
Much like Fatal, this closing song from Riot Act shows not only Ed Vedder’s lower vocal range, but we can hear a more vulnerable, rhythmic sound from Gossard. The band recently performed the song on night two of their Madison Square Garden run and it was met with an exciting crowd response.
7. Brother from Lost Dogs/Ten Reissue
“You use the flag as a bandage. Oh my big brother’s a pocket hypocrisy.”
This song started as an instrumental in its early 90s incarnations. While the instrumental, composed by Gossard is on the Lost Dogs compilations, a newer version with lyrics written by Vedder appears on the Ten Reissue. This is my personal favorite Pearl Jam song and is on my bucket list to hear live. They have played it eight times: once in 1991; six times in 2009; and once in 2010. Brother is one of the heaviest and loudest Gossard songs to date and it proves how different his sound can be.
6. No Way from Yield
“Here’s a token of my openness, of my need to not disappear.”
If you were in attendance at the PJ20 Anniversary shows in Alpine Valley, then you definitely heard this song and were freaking out. Stone did NOT want to play No Way, but after Eddie pestered him, it was decided. On the album version of the song is where we hear the true epitome of the traditional quirky Gossard guitar sound. He also provides backing vocals which adds to the distorted sound the song possesses.
5. Thin Air from Binaural
“It’s not in my past to presume, love can keep on moving in both directions. How to be happy and true is the quest we’re taking on together.”
Eloquently written lyrics with a sweet tone mixed into the harmony of Ed’s voice makes this one of the best Gossard songs. We start seeing a softer side of the band with the Binaural album cycle. Thin Air is a song that is truly timeless and can be played at any point in a show without the crowd losing energy.
4. All Those Yesterdays from Yield
“You don’t think there’s time to stop. There’s time enough for you to lay your head down tonight.”
When I hear this song, I always imagine a row of frat boys with their arms around each other, swaying and singing this as loud as they can. I doubt that is what Stone had in mind when he wrote this song. The lyrics are what make this song the masterpiece that it is.
3. In Hiding from Yield
“It’s funny when things change so much. It’s all state of mind.”
This is the best song on Yield. It is every hardcore Pearl Jam fan’s right of passage to hear this song live at least once. Stone plays this song how it was meant to be played: passionate and loud. Whether it be to a few hundred people at the Vic in Chicago, or to thousands at a sold out Madison Square Garden, Gossard and his band mates are always on point when this song is played.
2. Strangest Tribe from Holiday Single 1999
“It’s five below in evidence. The winded eves and sideways snow. His eminence has yet to show.
One of the rarest songs in Pearl Jam’s history, Strangest Tribe was released as a Ten-Club Holiday single in 1999. It has only been performed live once. This song sounds like a something you would hear at a hypnotic spiritual gathering in the middle of the woods at night. Stone’s diverse musical influence is very prominent in this song. He can tune his acoustic guitar to sound like a completely different instrument. That is just plain cool.
A list of Stone songs would not be complete without Don’t Gimme No Lip and Mankind. Since Gossard does lead vocals on both, they are tied for number one, because it was just too hard to choose between them.
1. Dont Gimme No Lip from Lost Dogs and Mankind from No Code
“It’s all just inadvertent imitation and I don’t mean mine.”
Don’t Gimme No Lip and Mankind are the true essence of our view into Stone’s world. He is goofy, a little bit nerdy, and kicks ass on lead vocals. Both songs have an early punk sound to them which adds to his level of awesome.
Honorable Mention: Smile from No Code
“Three crooked hearts and swirls all around.”
Even though he did not write this song, it is included because Stone and Jeff [Ament] swap instruments for this song: Stone on bass and Jeff on guitar. It just keeps life whimsical, don’t you think?
Happy 50th birthday, Stone!