10 Facts About Pearl Jam's Ten

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Amazon

Ten, Pearl Jam's debut studio album, was released on August 27, 1991—at the tail end of the summer before the term "grunge" would enter the popular lexicon. It would take a couple of hit singles and over a year for Ten to reach number two on the Billboard chart, but it did, and eventually sold more than 10 million copies.

The album was a collaboration between former Mother Love Bone guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament who, after the tragic death of their singer, Andrew Wood, regrouped and started playing again—this time with guitarist Mike McCready and eventually drummer Dave Krusen. Vocalist Eddie Vedder famously heard instrumental demos of what would become worldwide hits and came up with the famous lyrics while riding some San Diego waves. Here are some facts about one of the best-selling rock albums of all-time.

1. "ALIVE" IS PART OF A TRILOGY.

In September 1990, while working the graveyard shift at a Chevron tank farm in San Diego, former Bad Radio frontman Eddie Vedder heard the instrumental demos made by Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, and drummer Matt Cameron for the first time (he got the tape from former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons). “When you haven’t slept for days, you get so sensitive that it feels like every nerve is directly exposed," Vedder later explained. "I went surfing in that sleep-deprived state and totally started dealing with a few things that I hadn’t dealt with. I was really getting focused on this one thing, and I had this music in my mind at the same time. I was literally writing some of these words as I was going up against a wave.”

Vedder raced back to his apartment and taped himself singing over three of the songs. It was a "mini opera" he titled Mamasan featuring "Alive," "Once," and "Footsteps."

In 1993, Vedder told Cameron Crowe what "Alive" was about for him:

"The story of the song is that a mother is with a father, and the father dies. It's an intense thing because the son looks just like the father. The son grows up to be the father, the person that she lost. His father's dead, and now this confusion, his mother, his love, how does he love her, how does she love him? In fact, the mother, even though she marries somebody else, there's no one she's ever loved more than the father. You know how it is, first loves and stuff. And the guy dies. How could you ever get him back? But the son. He looks exactly like him. It's uncanny. So she wants him. The son is oblivious to it all. He doesn't know what the fu*k is going on. He's still dealing, he's still growing up. He's still dealing with love, he's still dealing with the death of his father. All he knows is 'I'm still alive'—those three words, that's totally out of burden."

Vedder would go on to say that in the opening track "Once," the son in "Alive" becomes a serial killer. "Footsteps," which would eventually be a "Jeremy" B side in the United Kingdom, is when he gets executed.

2. "EVEN FLOW" PROVED PROBLEMATIC IN THE STUDIO.

The band began recording Ten with producer Rick Parashar on March 11, 1991 at Seattle's London Bridge Studios, and completed the album within a month. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the musicians. "Even Flow," in particular, proved to be a tough song to record.

"I don't know why," Dave Krusen said. "Not sure why we didn't use that one from the demo as well, but I know it felt better." McCready estimated that they recorded the song 50 to 70 times. "I swear to God it was a nightmare," he said. "We played that thing over and over until we hated each other."

3. "JEREMY" WAS BASED ON TWO DIFFERENT REAL-LIFE EVENTS.

Vedder wrote "Jeremy" the night that 16-year-old Jeremy Wade Delle fatally shot himself in front of his classmates in Richardson, Texas. In addition to that incident, he also had an old junior high school classmate who shot up an oceanography room in mind. "So it's a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it's also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew," Vedder said.

4. MCCREADY BELIEVES HE RIPPED OFF DIFFERENT MUSICIANS.

Stone Gossard wrote the lead riff for "Even Flow," but McCready was tasked with playing it. “That’s me pretending to be Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a feeble attempt at that,” McCready admitted. “I tried to steal everything I know from Stevie Ray Vaughan and put it into that song. A blatant rip-off. A tribute rip-off, if you will!” He said pretty much the same thing about "Black." For "Alive," McCready said, "I copied Ace Frehley's solo from 'She,' which was copied from Robby Krieger's solo in The Doors's 'Five To One.'"

5. THE BAND REFUSED TO MAKE A VIDEO FOR "BLACK."

Vedder successfully protested against Epic Records' insistence that "Black" should get a music video. As bassist Jeff Ament told Rolling Stone, Mark Eitzel—lead singer of the San Francisco-based band American Music Club—told Ament he thought the "Jeremy" video "sucked" because it ruined his vision of the song. Ament admitted that the comment stung, and he told Vedder that, "Ten years from now, I don't want people to remember our songs as videos."

6. A FIRE EXTINGUISHER AND A PEPPER SHAKER WERE USED AS INSTRUMENTS ON ONE OF THE SONGS.

The album was mixed with Tim Palmer on a converted farm in Dorking, England. "You have to try very hard to find other human beings, but there are plenty of sheep," Palmer said of the studio's location. Palmer was credited as playing percussion on "Oceans" with a pepper mill as a shaker and drum sticks on a fire extinguisher "as a sort of bell effect."

"At about 30 seconds into the song, you can hear the pepper shaker on the left and the fire extinguisher on the right," he told Guitar World. "It is all fairly subtle stuff, really. The reason I used those items was purely because we were so far from a music rental shop and necessity became ‘the mother of invention.’”

7. JEFF AMENT ALMOST QUIT THE BAND OVER A SONG THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE ALBUM.

"Brother" was a song that was in consideration for Ten at the rough mix stage. But at some point, according to McCready, Gossard became indifferent toward the tune. Ament was "really pissed," and wanted the song to make the final cut. "I recall the big argument between the two," McCready said. "Jeff said it was almost like he was going to quit. It was serious sh*t."

Ament got his redemption nearly 20 years later. "Brother" was released on the 2009 album reissue and reached the top 10 on the modern and mainstream rock charts.

8. THE ALBUM'S TITLE WAS BASED ON THEIR ORIGINAL BAND NAME.

Up until they were recording the album at London Bridge Studios, Pearl Jam was known as Mookie Blaylock, as in the professional basketball player. Since calling themselves Mookie Blaylock would have possibly led to legal problems, they decided to just pay tribute to the point guard by calling their debut album Ten, his jersey number.

9. THE DRUMMER LEFT THE GROUP AFTER RECORDING THE ALBUM.

Once recording on Ten was complete, Dave Krusen left and checked into rehab. "They had to let me go. I couldn't stop drinking, and it was causing problems," Krusen said. "They gave me many chances, but I couldn't get it together."

Matt Chamberlain toured with Pearl Jam over the summer of 1991 and filmed the "Alive" video with them before leaving to join G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live band. Dave Abbruzzese then came in to play behind the drumkit for the next few years.

10. MOST OF THE BAND DOESN'T LIKE HOW THE ALBUM SOUNDS.

"I'd love to remix Ten," Ament told Spin in 2001. "Ed, for sure, would agree with me. Three, four years ago, I picked out a cassette, and it had the rough mixes of 'Garden' and 'Once,' and it sounded great. It wouldn't be like changing performances; just pull some of the reverb off it."

In 2009, Ament said that—unlike their other albums—Ten had a "little bit more of an '80s production." When Gossard was promoting the 2009 reissue of the album, featuring a remix of the original songs, he said that, "I think Ten's still good, but I don't put it on."

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40)

- Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition; $190 (save $30)

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- Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville; $120 (save $60)

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Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

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- Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

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Video games

Sony

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Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

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Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

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- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

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Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

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Movies and TV

HBO/Amazon

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Toys and Games

Amazon

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Furniture

Casper/Amazon

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Beauty

Haus/Amazon

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Clothes

Ganni/Amazon

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- Ray-Ban Unisex-Adult Hexagonal Flat Lenses Sunglasses; $108 (save $46) 

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10 Little Facts About Louisa May Alcott

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Born on November 29, 1832, Louisa May Alcott led a fascinating life. Besides enchanting millions of readers with her novel Little Women, she worked as a Civil War nurse, fought against slavery, and registered women to vote. Here are 10 facts about the celebrated author.

1. Louisa May Alcott had many famous friends.

Louisa's parents, Bronson and Abigail Alcott, raised their four daughters in a politically active household in Massachusetts. As a child, Alcott briefly lived with her family in a failed Transcendentalist commune, helped her parents hide slaves who had escaped via the Underground Railroad, and had discussions about women’s rights with Margaret Fuller.

Throughout her life, she socialized with her father’s friends, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Although her family was always poor, Alcott had access to valuable learning experiences. She read books in Emerson’s library and learned about botany at Walden Pond with Thoreau, later writing a poem called "Thoreau’s Flute" for her friend. She also socialized with abolitionist Frederick Douglass and women’s suffrage activist Julia Ward Howe.

2. Louisa May Alcott's first nom de plume was Flora Fairfield.

As a teenager, Alcott worked a variety of teaching and servant jobs to earn money for her family. She first became a published writer at 19 years old, when a women’s magazine printed one of her poems. For reasons that are unclear, Alcott used a pen name—Flora Fairfield—rather than her real name, perhaps because she felt that she was still developing as a writer. But in 1854 at age 22, Alcott used her own name for the first time. She published Flower Fables, a collection of fairy tales she had written six years earlier for Emerson’s daughter, Ellen.

3. Louisa May Alcott secretly wrote pulp fiction.

Before writing Little Women, Alcott wrote Gothic pulp fiction under the nom de plume A.M. Barnard. Continuing her amusing penchant for alliteration, she wrote books and plays called Perilous Play and Pauline’s Passion and Punishment to make easy money. These sensational, melodramatic works are strikingly different than the more wholesome, righteous vibe she captured in Little Women, and she didn’t advertise her former writing as her own after Little Women became popular.

4. Louisa May Alcott wrote about her experience as a Civil War nurse.

In 1861, at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, Alcott sewed Union uniforms in Concord and, the next year, enlisted as an army nurse. In a Washington, D.C. hotel-turned-hospital, she comforted dying soldiers and helped doctors perform amputations. During this time, she wrote about her experiences in her journal and in letters to her family. In 1863, she published Hospital Sketches, a fictionalized account, based on her letters, of her stressful yet meaningful experiences as a wartime nurse. The book became massively popular and was reprinted in 1869 with more material.

5. Louisa May Alcott suffered from mercury poisoning.

After a month and a half of nursing in D.C., Alcott caught typhoid fever and pneumonia. She received the standard treatment at the time—a toxic mercury compound called calomel. (Calomel was used in medicines through the 19th century.) Because of this exposure to mercury, Alcott suffered from symptoms of mercury poisoning for the rest of her life. She had a weakened immune system, vertigo, and had episodes of hallucinations. To combat the pain caused by the mercury poisoning (as well as a possible autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, that could have been triggered by it), she took opium. Alcott died of a stroke in 1888, at 55 years old.

6. Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women to help her father.

In 1867, Thomas Niles, an editor at a publishing house, asked Alcott if she wanted to write a novel for girls. Although she tried to get excited about the project, she thought she wouldn’t have much to write about girls because she was a tomboy. The next year, Alcott’s father was trying to convince Niles to publish his manuscript about philosophy. He told Niles that his daughter could write a book of fairy stories, but Niles still wanted a novel about girls. Niles told Alcott’s father that if he could get his daughter to write a (non-fairy) novel for girls, he would publish his philosophy manuscript. So to make her father happy and help his writing career, Alcott wrote about her adolescence growing up with her three sisters. Published in September 1868, the first part of Little Women was a huge success. The second part was published in 1869, and Alcott went on to write sequels such as Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886).

7. Louisa May Alcott was an early suffragette.

In the 1870s, Alcott wrote for a women’s rights periodical and went door-to-door in Massachusetts to encourage women to vote. In 1879, the state passed a law that would allow women to vote in local elections on anything involving education and children—Alcott registered immediately, becoming the first woman registered in Concord to vote. Although met with resistance, she, along with 19 other women, cast ballots in an 1880 town meeting. The Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified in 1920, decades after Alcott died.

8. Louisa May Alcott pretended to be her own servant to trick her fans.

After the success of Little Women, fans who connected with the book traveled to Concord to see where Alcott grew up. One month, Alcott had a hundred strangers knock on the door of Orchard House, her family’s home, hoping to see her. Because she didn’t like the attention, she sometimes pretended to be a servant when she answered the front door, hoping to trick fans into leaving.

9. Louisa May Alcott never had children, but she cared for her niece.

Although Alcott never married or had biological children, she took care of her orphaned niece. In 1879, Alcott’s youngest sister May died a month after giving birth to her daughter. As she was dying, May told her husband to send the baby, whom she had named Louisa in honor of Alcott, to her older sister. Nicknamed Lulu, the girl spent her childhood with Alcott, who wrote her stories and seemed a good fit for her high-spiritedness. Lulu was just 8 when Alcott died, at which point she went to live with her father in Switzerland.

10. Fans can visit Louisa May Alcott's home in Concord, Massachusetts.

At 399 Lexington Road in Concord, Massachusetts, tourists can visit Orchard House, the Alcott family home from 1858 to 1877. Orchard House is a designated National Historic Landmark, and visitors can take a guided tour to see where Alcott wrote and set Little Women . Visitors can also get a look at Alcott’s writing desk and the family’s original furniture and paintings.