August 27 in music history: We lost Stevie Ray Vaughan, we gained ‘Ten’ from Pearl Jam
Twenty-eight years ago on Aug. 27, I was sitting in the car as my dad ran into the 7-Eleven in Midland, Michigan, he left the car running with the rock radio station on. A song ended and the voice came on “Stevie Ray Vaughan died overnight after a helicopter crash after performing at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.”
My dad returned to the car and I broke the news to him — his favorite musician was dead. I was 7 years old.
I grew up on Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Beatles, thanks to my parents. I still listen to both today. I was fortunate enough to see Vaughan and Double Trouble in concert on two occasions. On one occasion, I handed him a rose, according to my parents.
I don’t remember the concerts, what I remember about Vaughan is what we all do: the man could do things with a guitar.
His influence over Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready — who often plays the solo of Even Flow behind his head, in what I can only assume is a tribute to Vaughan — was easy for me to spot.
It is interesting to me that in the history of rock ‘n’ roll one year separates the emergence of Pearl Jam and the death of Vaughan.
If I am being truthful, I’m probably just as lost today as I was then. Pearl Jam’s debut album ‘Ten’ was released 27 years ago on Monday. I wasn’t smart then, it would take me until 1996-1997 to understand the adolescent issues the album would talk to. However, today maybe even more than then, the album speaks to me. Mr. Vedder talks about how the meaning behind Alive has changed, mainly by the fans.
“Alive saved my life,” is a sign we often see at shows, I’m one of those.
Depression, social anxiety, failure, all those adolescent feelings were made to go away by long drives and loud music. Blasting Ten through my speakers kept me alive.
Hearing ‘Alive’ the first-time live made me a super fan; 20 years later, I’m still a “fanboy.”
The album can lift you in good and bad. I get goose bumps and tears every time they play Black and I’m in the venue. Half of my 32 shows have featured Black. Each and every time in my life when I was at Pearl Jam with more on my mind than I care to admit, it has been played.
I scream as loud as I can when Eddie Vedder sings:
“I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life
I know you’ll be a star
In somebody else’s sky
Why can’t it be
Why can’t it be mine”
The hairs on my arms standing, my arms outstretched, they have said it is the saddest song they know, I agree but more-so, it is a soul-cleanser helping me get through my ills.
I didn’t grow up with The Beatles, but their music speaks to me despite being younger.
I hope the younger generation understands that Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ still can speak to them.
And if you have never seen Vaughan make his guitar sing, go to YouTube, you won’t be disappointed.