Lightning Bolt is the tenth studio album by the American rock band Pearl Jam, released October 2013. It’s their most recent studio album, but I have heard word that they have a new one coming out. When I listen to Swallowed Whole, I get images of being out on the sea and, like Jonah, being swallowed by a whale. The fairy tale version of it anyway. Remember in Disney’s old movie, Pinocchio, when he and Gepetto were swallowed by a whale? It was like they were in the wilderness at a campout. Lightning Bolt is an excellent album, so this is just one of many good cuts on it. I like the maturity of the album. There’s no cutesy, there’s no pander, just good solid music with the usual consummate bard lyrics.
About, “Swallowed Whole,” from songfacts.com:
This mid-tempo rocker finds Eddie Vedder wrestling with mortality as he reflects on, “what lies beyond the grave.” It is one of several tracks on Lightning Bolt that finds the the Pearl Jam frontman thinking about the passing of life. Vedder explained to Billboard magazine that rather wanting to focus on mortality it was something he couldn’t get away from. “It sounds so pedestrian and ridiculous but death is everywhere,” he said. “Maybe just because I read the paper every day. Maybe it’s war, maybe it’s the epidemic rates of suicide in veterans coming back. I just can’t seem to get around it. So I think part of it is not getting around it, it’s getting through it. Songs end up being mantras that you end up playing for yourself as well.”
Vedder, a serious surfer, wrote this one night when he had gone out on a paddleboard. “It was a full moon and it was the calmest I have ever seen the ocean,” he remembered to The Sun. “I was somewhere very remote and it was midnight and I had to do something. I had to get on the water – so I did a two-hour paddle out to the waves.”
“The waves break about three-quarters of a mile out,” he continued, “and as you get closer they’re really loud and huge. You couldn’t see how big they were from the shore.”
“It was such a tremendously intense experience,” Vedder added. “Every nerve is up to your skin. Your senseless are so alive because you are by yourself and it’s extremely beautiful and also a little bit dangerous.”
He concluded: “That song came from that night and I do like that it has a build and then it clears out. There’s momentum, it’s almost like you’re running through trails of trees and then it becomes an open field.”
Lyrics are on the video. Written by Eddie Vedder.