M77: I’m already tired of this conversation.
WD: Because you know what I’m about to say.
M77: Yeah, you’re a cool guy now and no longer get geeked up about new Pearl Jam stuff the way my hair and I do.
WD: Listen, your Pearl Jam is them at their absolute peak. You’ll defend them against all criticisms. Keep it up. You are a true and sincere fan. I know. I’m proud of you.
M77: Yeah, they are the biggest and most popular band in the world now. I’m real brave…
WD: No, not when that picture was taken. They were just past that, but that’s when they were truly great. And you love that band that takes risks, that releases accordion music, that quit making videos, that inspires you to read, and that tries to teach every other rock band in the world how it should be done.
M77: Well, I’m assuming it’s the same five guys.
WD: Yeah, pretty much, but everything seems so dated now. Ed’s voice, their souped up classic rock, arena rock. The soundtrack of every memory you’re about to experience. It’s almost burdensome now. Too often mimicked, ripped-off, butchered to be effective any more. You almost won’t be able to hear their new stuff without thinking: Wow, this sounds like a PJ tribute band. And it will kinda break your heart.
WD: And his lyrics, the ones you will cut and paste and dissect and diagram and go blind drunk explaining the brilliance of, they’re tired. You don’t believe you’ll ever think that, but you will.
M77: You cynical asshole. That’s Ed Vedder. Remember him? He says: ”We’re just a band, but you make this music something beautiful.” You. You make this music, his music, something beautiful. He’s talking about me, up in that picture, and he should be talking about you. You in our t-shirt you refuse to get rid of.
WD: I know. I know. I’ve tried. I walked into the same hipster record store where I buy everything else and bought Lightening Bolt with no embarrassment. I’ve listened with open ears and an open mind and looked for something…and it wasn’t there. It’s not urgent. It’s not important. It’s dad rock.
M77: Look at you. You’re not urgent. You’re not important. Clearly you’re a dad (nice work). Eddie, Stone, Jeff, they’re aging with you. What do you expect? What do you want?
WD: I got what I wanted. It’s the same thing you want. I wanted them to be respected, to be loved, and to make the music they want to make for the people they want to make it for.
WD: But that music doesn’t excite me anymore.
WD: Listen, I know you don’t read Pitchfork yet, haven’t let it both jade your opinion of and exponentially incite your joy in music, but here’s what they said about Lightning Bolt.
M77: I’m certain I don’t care.
WD: “Pearl Jam on record have essentially been reduced to the rock ‘n’ roll version of wearing sweatpants: they’ve given up trying to impress anyone, so they may as well be comfortable.”
M77: So you wear sweatpants all the time now? I’m glad to know that the 20s I’m about to set on fire result in that. Wearing sweatpants all the time. I bet you think you’re too good for Coors Light. I bet you listen to NPR and not sports radio. You prolly even got rid of my Jeep didn’t you?
WD: Shit, I forgot how much of an indignant moron you could be.
M77: Why’d you keep the shirt?
WD: I get to criticize them because so much of the life you’re about to live, the memories you’re about to create, good and bad, that will make you laugh and cry are soundtracked by these five guys. You’re about to devote countless hours cramming your every experience into a box that will allow you to apply a smidgen of wisdom from Ed Vedder to them. You’re about to do all that, wearing this shirt, and it reminds me of that. It reminds me of you.
M77: So they sell out, start making top 40 hits, license their shit to Gap commercials, and you don’t like them anymore?
WD: Of course not. They’re still the people you like. The people you’ll read books and books and articles and articles about. It’s just their music quit being interesting, and somewhere along the line you start to require that the things you devote your obsessions to be interesting. Prolly because you start to slowly lose your time to obsess, and you start to guard it, protect it, refuse to waste it.
M77: Lose my time?
WD: Trust me. You trade that free time in for much better things. They’re sitting on my lap and are behind that camera. Actually, that’s a cell phone. We can take pictures with cell phones now, and everyone has one. It’s crazy.
WD: A know. Game-changer. Wait until you start to realize how lucky you are that everyone you’re about to surround yourself with doesn’t have a camera in their pocket to record your every peccadillo, your every lapse in judgment. Because buddy, they’ll be plenty.
WD: Buy a dictionary. It’s soon to become your favorite book.
M77: Well, other than the kids, you look terrible.
WD: Other than the hair, you look terrible.
M77: Your house is nice. I guess we made it to medical school.
WD: . . .
M77: Do you even go to their concerts any more?
WD: Of course, dude. They’re coming next month, and I’ll wear our shirt, and raise my arms in a V, and belt out every word at the top of my lungs even if I don’t know them all anymore.
M77: But otherwise you’ve given up on Pearl Jam?
WD: If there is one thing I know about you, it’s that you don’t know shit.
M77: My god. Are you what I am, what I become? What happens to me?
WD: Everything that’s supposed to happen you…