This is not a straightforward holiday song, but it does contain a Christmas tree and a wish list. Reading about the album I was surprised to see it outsold No Code, as I’ve about worn No Code out but have seldom listened to Yield. Maybe I need to give it more time. Also, about the youtube I chose today, it looks like someone recorded an old VHS tape, which shows commercials before and after the David Letterman Show, which makes it a bit of a time capsule. It also shows how devastatingly handsome Eddie Vedder was at the time (not that he isn’t still handsome!) He has had his sass/attitude since the beginning, where songs are more than just songs, they are messages going out into the aether in hopes of reaching souls that are tuned in.
Yield is the fifth studio album by American alternative rock band Pearl Jam, released on February 3, 1998. Following a short promotional tour for its previous album, No Code (1996), Pearl Jam recorded Yield throughout 1997 at Studio Litho and Studio X in Seattle, Washington. The lyrics deal with contemplative themes, albeit seen in a more positive manner compared to the band’s earlier work.
Yield received positive reviews and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 (pushed out by the soundtrack to “Titanic.”) While like No Code, the album soon began dropping down the charts, Yield eventually outsold its predecessor. The band did more promotion for the album compared to No Code, including a return to full-scale touring and the release of a music video for the song “Do the Evolution.” The record has been certified platinum by the RIAA in the United States. The album is Pearl Jam’s last release with drummer Jack Irons, who left the band during the album’s promotional tour.
Compared with Vitalogy and No Code, Yield represented more of a team effort among all members of the group. Lead vocalist Eddie Vedder had made the final decisions for Vitalogy and No Code; however, at the end of the No Code recording sessions, Vedder suggested to bassist Jeff Ament that it would be better for the other members to write and bring in more complete songs so Vedder would be under less pressure to finish the songs. Ament said that “everybody took that to heart,” and O’Brien added that most of the songs came to the studio finished. Ament also said that Vedder’s reaction to the rest of the band’s new material kept “everybody energized about their place in the band.” Vedder worked with the other band members on their own material before work was started on his. Guitarist Mike McCready noticed a change in Vedder’s attitude during the recording of Yield, stating, “I used to be afraid of him and not want to confront him on things … We talk more now, and hang out … He seems very, very centered now.”
The album’s second commercially released single, “Wishlist“, charted on the Hot 100 at number 47. The song was included on Pearl Jam’s 2004 greatest hits album, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003). Vedder used an EBow for his guitar solo on the song. [I wondered what that thing he was holding was!] According to Vedder about the song:
It was a stream-of-consciousness exercise. [Mike] McCready booked studio time in a tiny studio here with our friend Stu behind the board and another friend playing drums. We don’t have the discipline to sit down and teach each other parts, so you’re writing simple chord changes that someone else can follow without having to take breaks to learn them. It was probably eight minutes long originally. I listened to the tape and picked out the better wishes.
“Wishlist” is about Vedder seeking fulfillment of wishes desired, but he resolves his wishlist with the line “I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me.” When asked about the song, Vedder stated, “I thought I’d lighten up.” The line “I wish I was the full moon shining off your Camaro’s hood” references the car that belonged to Beth Liebling, Vedder’s wife at the time. When played live, the song mirrors its roots as an improv, with Vedder changing the lyrics depending on his mood.
I wish I was a neutron bomb for once I could go off
I wish I was a sacrifice but somehow still lived on
I wish I was a sentimental ornament you hung on
The Christmas tree I wish I was the star that went on top
I wish I was the evidence I wish I was the grounds
For fifty million hands upraised and open toward the sky
I wish I was a sailor with someone who waited for me
I wish I was as fortunate as fortunate as me
I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good
I wish I was the full moon shining off a Camaro’s hood
I wish I was an alien at home behind the sun
I wish I was the souvenir you kept your house key on
I wish I was the pedal brake that you depended on
I wish I was the verb ‘to trust’ and never let you down
I wish I was a radio song, the one that you turned up
Songwriters: Eddie Vedder