November 22: Pearl Jam Released Vitalogy

On this day in rock history

On this day in 1994, Pearl Jam released their third studio album – Vitalogy. This iconic record solidified their artistic talent and further cemented their place in the pantheon of rock.

For Pearl Jam, Vitalogy wasn’t just another album; it was a raw, unfiltered expression of their evolving musical identity. The album strayed from the conventional, embracing a more experimental approach that pushed the boundaries of their sound. From the erratic beat of “Last Exit” to the stirring ballad “Better Man,” Vitalogy was a journey that captivated listeners and critics alike.

But the story behind the album’s creation was as tumultuous as the music it bore. 

Internal Tensions During Recording

Internal tensions within the band simmered beneath the surface during the recording process. Creative differences and personal conflicts threatened to tear them apart, yet paradoxically, this friction fueled the raw energy and emotional intensity that permeated the album.

One of the album’s standout tracks, “Not for You,” encapsulated Pearl Jam’s defiance against the trappings of fame and the pressures of the music industry. 

“I believe…that there is something sacred about youth, and [‘Not For You’] is about how youth is being sold and exploited. I think I felt like I had become part of that too. Maybe that’s why sometimes I have a hard time with the TV end of music and much of the media and the magazines. When I pick up a magazine, I just count how many pages of ads before the first article starts. You go one, two…up to fifteen to twenty or more. And then in the back you have phone sex ads. So I’ve pretty much had it.

I don’t want to be the traveling medicine show where we go out and do the song and dance and someone else drops the back of the wagon and starts selling crap. I don’t want our music to sell anything—or anyone else use it.

There are a lot of middlemen, somewhere between the band and the audience. I know you need some people to help facilitate things for the live show, and I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate these people but…In the last ten or fifteen years, there have been a lot of changes in music, and somehow the percentages being charged [by the concert industry] got out of hand. We also don’t want to be part of all the marketing tools or whatever, but believe me, we have been. [That happened] on the first album and that’s probably why we are where we are now, but it was hell and I feel awful about it and I’m not going to do it anymore.”

— Eddie Vedder

The song was a bold declaration of independence, a sentiment echoed throughout Vitalogy.

Yet, amidst the tension and rebellious spirit, Vitalogy soared.

Vitalogy’s Release

Initially, Pearl Jam released Vitalogy on vinyl. It became the first album in that format to appear on the US charts since CDs took over. And, until 2014, it held the record for most vinyl sales in a single week.  

The album itself came encased in a unique, book-like cover, each page featuring artwork, lyrics, and discussions on health and well-being. This tactile experience added another layer to the album’s allure, inviting fans to immerse themselves not just in the music but in the tangible essence of the band’s vision. (It also cost $0.50 more per copy to produce and p*ssed off record stores, who had to put it in sideways).

Two weeks later Pearl Jam released the album on CD and Cassette. The CD version became the second-fastest-selling CD ever. The first was their album Vs.  

Decades since its release, Vitalogy remains a cornerstone of Pearl Jam’s legacy. Its songs continue to reverberate through time, carrying the same potency and relevance that captivated audiences in the mid-90s. 

‘Vitalogy’ wasn’t just an album—it was a testament to artistic integrity, resilience, and the unyielding spirit of a band unafraid to challenge norms. 

RELATED: Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture has a Pearl Jam exhibit…

Other Notable Rock Events From November 22

1957 – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel debuted on ABC’s American Bandstand as Tom and Jerry. 

1963 – The Beatles released With The Beatles. The album spent 51 weeks on the UK charts. 

1963 – JFK was shot in Dallas, Texas. 

1965 – Bob Dylan and Sara Lowndes got married in secret. Sara filed for divorce in 1977. 

1968 – The Beatles released their double White Album in the UK, spending 8 weeks at #1. 

1981 – Muddy Waters had an on-stage jam session with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood at the Checker Board Lounge in Chicago. 

1986 – Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trick started their 149-date tour of North America and Europe. 

1990 – Bill Wyman, bassist for the Rolling Stones, married Mandy Smith. Smith was only 13 when she started dating the musician. 

1991 – Alice Cooper helped raise money for two fans so that their home would not be repossessed. The couple came to his attention when they painted a picture of Cooper’s face on the house to help sell it. 

2002 – Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors announced that they were going to record and tour again. The line-up would include Ian Atsbury, who previously sang for The Cult, and Stewart Copeland, former drummer for Police. 

2004 – Burglars robbed Ozzy Osbourne’s Buckinghamshire mansion. At one point, Ozzy had one of the robbers in a headlock but he managed to escape out a window 30 ft off the ground. 

2004 – U2 played on the back of a moving flatbed truck in Brooklyn for the “All Because Of You” video. Later the same day, the band performed a short show under the Brooklyn Bridge, which was aired on MTV. 

2005 – A New York City Auction sold poems that Bob Dylan had written while in college for $78,000. 

2010 – The Beatles had sold over 450,000 albums and 2 million songs after just one week on iTunes. 

2019 – U2 was the top touring artist from the 2010s at $1,038,104,132. The Rolling Stones came in second at $929,196,083.  

Rock Birthdays

1943 – Floyd Sneed of Three Dog Night (Drums)

1946 – Aston Barrett of Bob Marley and the Wailers (Bass)

1950 – Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band (Guitar) 

1950 – Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads (Vocals)

On This Day In History – November 22

November 22 commemorates the release of Pearl Jam’s groundbreaking album, Vitalogy. Beyond this iconic milestone, the date resonates with pivotal events that have shaped the landscape of rock music, reminding us of the cultural impact and enduring influence of the genre.