April 10, 2017

"It was like a chinook coming out of the Pacific Northwest. It had an anger to it and it appealed to twenty-something people who felt displaced and unemployed and left out."

Said David Letterman — speaking at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony — about the 1991 Pearl Jam album "Ten." He continues:
I was almost 50 and even I was pissed off.... Then, it turned out that these guys in Pearl Jam were something more than a band. They're true living cultural organisms. They would recognize injustice and they would stand up for it....

In 1994, these young men risked their careers by going after those beady-eyed, blood-thirsty weasels. I'm just enjoying saying that. And because they did, because they stood up to the corporations I'm happy to say, ladies and gentleman, today every concert ticket in the United States of America is free....

I used to have a television show, they were on my show 10 different times over the years. Every time they were there, they would blow the roof off the place and I'm not talking figuratively. They actually blew the roof off the place. For two years I did a show without a roof over the goddamn theater....
I love that joke format: Use a metaphor and then act like it's not a metaphor. Can't think of any other examples at the moment. Maybe you can.

69 comments:

Jake said...

I fucked the shit out of him/her.

I am not Laslo (why this wasn't funny).

Danno said...

Letterman is not like a fine wine. With age, he has lost his funniness, gotten really stoooopid, and has let himself go out in public looking like hell. Die already, Dave!

Danno said...

And since when is snarky, eloquent?

JAORE said...

I live every day with the realization that age diminishes capabilities. I'm still here, still reasonably capable. But I can see the decline. And it is, sadly, NOT a linear decline.

Letterman is a couple of decades behind in that awareness.

Bob Ellison said...

I had a boss once: we'd run into her office and say "we fixed that [software] bug!"

She'd say, "Get out!"

We'd say, "No, really!"

She'd say, "I'm serious. Get outta my office."

William said...

I've heard of Peal Jam, but their music is not part of my life. If Pearl Jam had never existed, my life would not be different in any way, not in the smallest detail. I'm glad they did so much to add meaning and significance to David Letterman's existence, however.

Henry said...

Steven Wright. It's almost all about taking absurd things literally.

If you shoot a mime should you use a silencer? ... I tried to hang myself with a bungee cord. I kept almost dying.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

They would recognize injustice and they would stand up for it....

I always like people who stand up for injustice.

Bob Boyd said...

I just flew in from Chicago and boy are my arms tired.

Achilles said...

If he was funny he would still have a job telling jokes.

Bob Boyd said...

If you shoot a mime should you use a silencer?

No.

AllenS said...

People commenting here, have more funny than Letterman.

buwaya said...

Age requires that you develop new abilities; as for the old abilities, there is always someone younger and better.

I think I was too old for Letterman even when he was starting, but thats because I was always a square.

Pearl Jam is just one of those things that came around long after I lost interest. Our kids may know them, they are rather retro. One boy, the guitar nut, still covers Metallica.

Its funny, I'm quite a bit younger than Letterman.

Spiros Pappas said...

Mr. Letterman is driven by greed just as much as the corporations he rails against. Maybe more so. I think it's sad when very wealthy people complain about how greed and lack of empathy and whatever else. Also, the profit motive should play an essential role in corporate governance. There's really no other way to control corporations.

Nonapod said...

For whatever reason I'm the type of person who has never paid attention to lyrics or whatever a particular bands "message" might be. Ever since I was very young, whenever I listen to music, I would just focus on the actual music part of it all. You know, the melody, harmony, rhythm, chord progressions ect. Over the years there's been loads of songs that I really love and I have listened to over and over and over, but I couldn't tell you what any of the lyrics are. I just generally don't care.

When Pearl Jam first started getting radio play in early '92 I remember being sort of ambivalent about the song "Alive" but really digging "Even Flow" from the first time I heard it. It was just a groovy riff with an open D tuning and just a slightly strange vocal melody line for counterpoint. So I bought the album "Ten". I ended up really liking most of the other tunes on it. So I really like Pearl Jam, but I've never paid much attention to their political stance other than knowing that they were garden variety Progressive/Leftist in sentiment.

I'll give them a modicum of respect for actually putting some of their financial success on the line in going up against Ticket Master the way they did. A lot of other bands put on a good show of "railing against the man" or whatever, but when it really comes down to it they won't put their own money on the line.

Ann Althouse said...

"I love that joke format: Use a metaphor and then act like it's not a metaphor."

It's like that old Mad Magazine thing with pictures of stuff like "Nursing a Grudge."

Fernandinande said...

buwaya said...
One boy, the guitar nut, still covers Metallica.


Metallica is a lot better than Pearl Jam.

PJ Letterman performance.
Critical summary: two boring chords, mumbly singing, no backbeat, no melody, no interest.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm confused.

Is Pearl Jam like a chinook? Is it a chinook.....salmon. An angry fish? I'd be angry too, since the Chinook are coming in to spawn and then die after all that struggle and work. It seems so unfair.

Or chinook wind.....warm moist wind from the Pacific, raising the temperature. Those are not actually very angry. They are quite pleasant.

His metaphor is unclear.

Birches said...

Pearl Jam is just one of those things that came around long after I lost interest. Our kids may know them, they are rather retro. One boy, the guitar nut, still covers Metallica.

I think Pearl Jam will end up like Bruce Springsteen. The old people will fall all over themselves for them, but the young kids will show no interest. My spouse and I were eating out late Saturday night and there were mostly twenty something hipsters at the bar. They started playing the popular Sublime self titled and those kids knew every word. I found that enlightening.

richlb said...

Pearl Jam were my first real dose of grunge. They followed Nirvana, who I appreciated but didn't really love at first glance. The album "Ten" was seminal listening in my college days.

Like a lot of bands, their output over the years never really equalled that first sonic masterpiece (it is, trust me). But even their last album had some quality music on it, with "Sirens" being the standout, something as good as anything on Ten.

They, along with U2, are the two bands I really grew up on. I've seen them live a few times and loved the experience, despite a few too many political lectures here and there. A worthy inclusion in a Hall of Fame that is just a sham anyway. The Hall would go a long way in validating themselves when Weird Al gets inducted.

Birches said...

When I was a kid, I understood why Bryant Gumble went weak in the knees for Prince, but I was completely bewildered by Rosie O'Donnell's (and others) obsession with Barbara Streisand and how deferential everyone was/is to The Boss on TV appearances. It is definitely a generational thing; some people never make the leap.

YoungHegelian said...

Rufus T. Firefly: Is that so? Can you do this one? (Performs an impromptu dance, Mrs. Teasdale & Miss Marcal laugh in response)....here's one I picked up in a dance hall. (Dances again, as Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) laughs) Here's another one I picked up in a dance hall. (Indicates Mrs. Teasdale)

Duck Soup (1933)

Humperdink said...

Boy I missed the whole Pearl Jam thing, as well the Grateful Dead. And for that I am grateful.

Reviewing the history of both recently, I believe I have led a charmed life.

Mike said...

Nonapod said...
For whatever reason I'm the type of person who has never paid attention to lyrics or whatever a particular bands "message" might be. Ever since I was very young, whenever I listen to music, I would just focus on the actual music part of it all. You know, the melody, harmony, rhythm, chord progressions ect. Over the years there's been loads of songs that I really love and I have listened to over and over and over, but I couldn't tell you what any of the lyrics are. I just generally don't care.


If you read Sammy Hagar's autobiography this is almost exactly what Eddie Van Halen said about his own hits. He claimed he didn't even know what David Lee Roth was saying most of the time, just taking his cues from the pattern of the music and his rhythm section ("Panama! Panama ha ha-ha!"). I found that astounding, then very interesting, then I came around to thinking it was just plain weird for a co-writer of a song to not take into account what the freaking lyrics were ("Change, nothing stays the same; Unchained, yeah yeah hit the ground running...")!

But this does support Nonapod's listening style. After all, it worked for Eddie! And in the grand scheme of things the lyrics didn't matter so much as the cool guitar riffs.

readering said...

Obama founded ISIS

madAsHell said...

@DBQ

It's also a helicopter, but that doesn't really help clarify his statement.

Rae said...

I was in college when grunge hit the mainstream, and for a while that music was just kind of the background to what I was doing. Of course, my tastes have changed over the years. And grunge managed to shoot itself in the head, both literally and figuratively. Pearl Jam has kind of evolved into a retro classic rock band these days, but they managed to not kill themselves and stay together make music.

The Cameron Crowe documentary about their 20th anniversary was worth watching.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sebastian said...

Letterman is out of his mind.

Dave D said...

OK. What's the deal with Letterman's beard? Or any beard like that? I've worn a close/trimmed beard for 30+ years and feel absolutely FILTHY when it gets over ~ 1 inch long.

Amexpat said...

Dylan often plays with idioms like that. Sometimes for humorous effect like in Po'Boy:
Poor boy, in the hotel called the Palace of Gloom
Calls down to room service, says send up a room


Other times for an ominous effect such as in "Man in the Long Black Coat"
There’s smoke on the water, it’s been there since June
Tree trunks uprooted, 'neath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating a dead horse

Robert Cook said...

"People commenting here, have more funny than Letterman."

No, they don't.

And Letterman doesn't even to be funny for that to be true.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lost My Cookies said...

In 1991 the Cramps released Look Mom, No Head. It didn't make anyone angry. The Cramps did something far more difficult than pissing off young (and middle-aged) men. They made an album that made people feel good.

mockturtle said...

The 'chinook' metaphor made me pause for a moment, not knowing if he was referring to a wind or to a salmon.

Livermoron said...

Poor cookie has been the butt of so much humor here that it makes sense he's butt-hurt. That Stalin was a real card, though right?


Airplane! The Movie is all about turning metaphors real...e.g. "I want every light we have on that runway, now!" Cut to a dump truck emptying a load of desk lamps, torchieres, etc. onto the runway surface.

walter said...

Fishing for humor

TwilightofLiberty.com said...

Was in jr high when grunge hit, same time i was discovering rock music in general; many people still know me as 'Mattalica." Eddie Vedder Hit Parader portrait was in the locker door along with Hetfield, Cobain, Axl Rose wnd Kirk Hammett. Still love all that stuff. GnR Use Your Illusions still my main workout soundtrack. Was singingvalong to PJ Vs. in the car last week.

But i'm embarrassed how i let it dominate my life for so long. I dont understand supposedly mature adults that talk about pop or rock music like its something other than people trying to get laid. All i see when i go i the guitar store now is dudes trying to get some.

My name goes here. said...

"People commenting here, have more funny than Letterman."

No, they don't.

And Letterman doesn't even to be funny for that to be true.


They weren't talking about you.

John said...

Jeez, Dave, it's a band. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you like it great but it is not going to change the world. Not even a little bit.

Get over yourself.

I liked Dave when he was on after Carson. I thought he was funny then. When he went to the 11 o'clock spot? Not so much.

John Henry

rehajm said...

Letterman in his day used his show to promote smaller unknown bands like Foo Fighters and Beastie Boys. He's gone full Wackadoodle now but I will appreciate his earlier years.

ConradBibby said...

Book blurb by Groucho Marx:

"From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it."

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Book blurb by Groucho Marx:

"From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it."


Similarly, there is Dorothy Parker's quip: "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

Mike said...

Twilight lays down some truth. I've often said IRL (not here) that every song ever written boils down to three themes (not mutually exclusionary either). In chronological order they are:

1. Praise God. (Prayer)
2. Let's make love. (Seduction)
3. Let's get loaded. (Inebriation)

Rock-n-roll have been heavy on 2 and 3 and light on #1, but the songs are there if you look hard enough. I count "nature songs" and any religious theme as well as instrumentals in #1. Fun fact: Lucifer was God's favorite musician before he led the First Rebellion!

walter said...

"We are the world" ;)

William said...

Chinook sounds like an ehnic slur.......I wonder if Dave Letterman got laid more often than Bill O'Reilly or Roger Ailes. He certainly got less criticism. Hugh Hefner seems to have the best deal. Sexual harassment wasn't so much a perk of his job, but rather a job requirement.

Anthony said...

Never liked PJ. Thought they were way overly pretentious.

Titus said...

Who is funny here? More like fucking pissed off. Funny looking....definitely.

Birkel said...

Whenever I want the opinion of a not-very-funny former comedian, I always want the opinion to come from an ANGRY, PISSED OFF not-very-funny former comedian.

I prefer to laugh at angry clowns.

I Callahan said...

No, they don't. And Letterman doesn't even to be funny for that to be true.

Bob Cook is kind of the lefty version of the old guy on every block who's just pissed off them damn kids are on his lawn again...

Birkel said...

If you shoot a mime, shoot it twice.

stever said...

I tend to place more importance into music than it should have but I do love some of it, and it enriches my life. My life, and the memories attached to music. So the totality of it, lyrics, etc are entirely for my pleasure. Even assholes can't ruin it.

Bill Peschel said...

Laslo is funnier than Dave. At least, I've laughed out loud at his writing more often.

There's a difference between Dave and Don Rickles (otherwise one of them being dead, I mean). Don would say something mean, but he gets away with it because he clearly doesn't mean it.

Dave would say something mean, and you know he meant it.

As for Pearl, they're a lot like other bands. They have their fans and that's cool. I'll add that most people didn't care what they sang, they just played music that hit them.

Remember, we're in a world where "Born in the USA" is a patriotic song, and "Every Breath You Take" is played at weddings. And Southern rednecks at ball games dance to "Y.M.C.A."

Most people don't take music seriously. But we were smart enough to know Manilow was gay long before he finally admitted it publicly.

Yancey Ward said...

The David Letterman bit aside, while I have always like Pearl Jam, they never really did anything after Ten that really came close to matching it in quality. They peaked really early.

Johnny Sokko said...

I think he meant Chinook wind. We didn't have too many this winter, that is why snow stayed on the ground so long in the PNW.

Kirk Parker said...

Danno,

"And since when is snarky, eloquent?"

Since Stewart and Colbert.


Duh.








DBQ,

"warm moist wind ... quite pleasant."

Bleah.


And in closing: neither Marx nor Parker can match Ambrose Bierce's best cutting book review:

"The covers are too far apart."

Michael McNeil said...

DBQ: You beat me to that comment. Nice work!

But I would note that a ‘chinook’ is a warm dry wind, not a warm moist wind, coming off the slopes to the east of the Rocky Mountains. In places like Montana you can be completely frozen up for weeks, well below zero F., then a chinook will start up and melt everything in a day. It seems miraculous, though it's merely a phenomenon of air going up and over mountains, losing its moisture in so doing, and then warming up as it descends down to lower altitude.

buwaya said...

"every song ever written boils down to three themes"

I'm sad to say that I must disagree. There are other themes -

"Lets go kill them" - The Marseillaise for one, also Ca ira, etc.

"Hail to the Chief" - "Hail to the Chief, also "God Save the King" and etc.

"Give us stuff" - The Internationale, and a whole lot of other things sung for political purposes.

"We're so wonderful" - ah well, you get the idea.

kc said...

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the axe just fell

Mike said...

Third category: We are so bitchin'!

Thank you, Buwaya.

wwww said...



I remember Mother Love Bone before the Pearl Jam incarnation.

Lot of good music at that time in the city from Punk to Zydeco. But no Chinooks. Seattle music was a long DIY marinade of drizzle and fog and mist and beer. The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest. Apartments at Pike Place market went for 200$ a month. Nirvana show for 5$. Good Times.

I don't remember anyone calling it "Grunge" until Nirvana was on SNL.

Bob Ellison said...

Eddie Vedder wrote and performed most or all of the music to the movie Into the Wild. Really surprisingly good stuff, almost all non-metallic.

dwick said...

Hyperbole much, Dave?

D said...

I was in the age cohort that the 4th floor marketing dept had assumed would acquire product. Didnt happen with PJ. I have come to presume music is like seeing someone you think is attractive, perhaps, not because you know them all that well. Jim might not see it, no matter how hard you explain. Whats more: sometimes the laws of attraction change with time. What did i ever see in ---, you say, years later. Other times, you find something you thought too trite can now be appreciated for what it is, regardless of "deep meaning"
I appreciate how some folks upthread do a great job of compartmentalizing all songs into 5/6 general themes. I will add one more, cause, hey, Van Morrison / Clash:
"This cast-off fills my obligation to the Company."

RichardJohnson said...

Bill Peschel
There's a difference between Dave and Don Rickles (otherwise one of them being dead, I mean). Don would say something mean, but he gets away with it because he clearly doesn't mean it.Dave would say something mean, and you know he meant it.

Good point. There is another difference between Letterman and Don Rickles. Don Rickles would go after anybody and everybody- Frank Sinatra, some tourist in the audience, you name it. David Letterman, by contrast, was selective in his targets. Mock Sarah Palin's daughter, but never say a word about the children of Democrat politicians.For David Letterman, edgy applied only to Republicans.

mockturtle said...

I much preferred Jay Leno.

urbane legend said...

I saw a mime have a heart attack yesterday. It was hard to watch that. No one could get into that box to help him.