Pearl Jam’s “Black” Lyrics Meaning

This Pearl Jam classic is about unrequited love. Or more specifically, according to Eddie Vedder’s own explanation, it is about a person’s ‘first relationship’, i.e. first love, that doesn’t work out. And with this understanding in mind, the meanings of the metaphors used throughout become quite evident. And what they all ultimately boil down to is the singer feeling “black”, i.e. depressed, due to losing the woman he loves.

Facts about “Black”

This song can be found on Pearl Jam’s first album, which is entitled “Ten”. And Epic Records released it with the rest of that project on 27 August 1991.

Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard wrote this classic, with the former handling the lyrics and the latter, the music.

It was actually Gossard who first conceptualized this song as an instrumental. He included it as part of a project entitled “Stone Gossard Demos ‘91” which he put out in the name of attracting a drummer and singer for the band. And said tape is actually what led to E. Vedder joining Pearl Jam.

“Black” went on to peak at number 3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. This was a pretty amazing feat considering that the song was never released as a single.

Indeed it was Pearl Jam themselves who prevented Epic Records (i.e. Sony) from releasing “Black” as a single. And the reason they did so is because they thought the business side of the industry, such as a music video for instance, would take away from the song’s meaning.

But as aforementioned, this did not prevent it from blowing up. Indeed in 2011 readers of Rolling Stone voted this song the ninth ‘Best Ballad of All Time’. Led Zeppelin’s famed “Stairway to Heaven” took the number 1 position on the aforementioned list.

The producer of this Pearl Jam classic is Rick Parashar. He did so alongside the members of the band.

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