The Pearl Jam song that was “a nightmare” to record

Sessions for the very first Pearl Jam record, Ten, were relatively straightforward. Although the band was forced to change their name in order to not get sued by NBA player Mookie Blaylock and later suffered the loss of drummer Dave Krusen shortly after the completion of the LP, the actual process of recording Ten proved to be less challenging.

It helped that the band had honed and crafted their material through live shows and diligent practice. Even though they had existed for less than a year before Ten was released, the band’s connections within the Seattle scene allowed them to join Alice in Chains’ Facelift tour and sign to Epic Records in short order. Riding that wave of momentum all the way into the studio, Pearl Jam recorded Ten in just four weeks.

The only major sticking point was ‘Even Flow’, the high energy second song on the album that covered the harrowing tale of an illiterate homeless man. Perhaps due to the quick nature of the recording, none of the band members wound up satisfied with the final take of the track that eventually appeared on Ten.

“I knew it was a great song all along, and I felt that it was the best song that we got the worst take of on the first record,” bassist Jeff Ament opinioned to Dave Marsh in 1998. “There were a hundred takes on that song, and we just never nailed it.”

Krusen, meanwhile, blamed himself: “I was pretty green back then and ‘Even Flow’ suffered from too much fluctuation,” Krusen told in 2009. “It was really tough for me. I don’t know why. Not sure why we didn’t use that one from the demo as well, but I know it felt better.”

Guitarist Mike McCready echoed similar sentiments to The Daily Record in 2009. “We did ‘Even Flow’ about 50, 70 times. I swear to God it was a nightmare,” McCready said. “We played that thing over and over until we hated each other. I still don’t think Stone is satisfied with how it came out.”

The dissatisfaction with the song continued to gnaw at the band, and while recording songs for the 1992 film Singles, another take of ‘Even Flow’ was attempted with new drummer Dave Abbruzzese. This version of the song was eventually used for the music video and later saw a release as a single in the UK. This version seemed to be more pleasing to the members of Pearl Jam, as the single version was the one included on the greatest hits compilation rearviewmirror.

Listen to the version of ‘Even Flow’ from Ten down below.

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