I've written about that summer, which was in many ways the last time that I was mostly free of responsibility—I had two years of college left so the urgency was still barely visible off in the distance. By the summer of 1996 though, that urgency was approaching like a speeding bullet. I was jobless and bummed out about it, plus I lived long distance from the girl I'd been dating since spring semester—the same girl, incidentally, who became the woman I've built a life with that includes two amazing children. So I was madly in love that summer, in a way I'd never been before, but also increasingly nervous about what lay ahead after senior year. It was at this point in late August that No Code dropped, and to say I'd been eagerly anticipating it would be an understatement. In the envelope, tucked inside one of the many letters we sent each other that summer, my future wife included an article about No Code. Is it any wonder I married this woman? A few days later the album released and I bought it as soon as the record store opened. I played it endlessly for days, weeks, and months even, completely addicted to its offbeat musical charms and deeply personal words. In a series of introspective songs, some slow and contemplative and others loud and fast, Vedder and the band provided a blueprint for how to proceed. Things wouldn't be easy, they might even get more difficult (they did), but if I remained true to myself and let the surrounding bullshit recede a bit, then I could get through anything. I've returned to that notion repeatedly in my life, especially when facing what feel like impossible obstacles. Having even a partial sense of who I am helps get me through it all.
It's also important, even necessary, to remember who we were. We grow and change, but we try to retain the parts of ourselves that represent the best of what we can be. It's a constant struggle, one that Pearl Jam was working out over a series of albums. That's why their music affected so many of us, and why it still endures today. In No Code's "In My Tree," Vedder revisits themes similar to those found in "Not For You," including how we need to retain a sense of youthful innocence in order to hold on to who we really are.
had my eyes peeled both wide open, and I got a glimpseYet another example of Pearl Jam's lasting impact. Twenty years after No Code, the album's themes remain relevant to anyone trying to better understand who they are and how they fit into this world.
of my innocence... got back my inner sense...
baby got it, still got it