Vitalogy - Track #5 - 1994 - Performed by Pearl Jam - Lyrics by Eddie Vedder

The child lays in bed all alone. The room is dark, and somewhere in the darkness there is something frightening. The child gasps, and the frightening thing comes closer. The child closes his eyes. The child screams... and no one comes to help him.

once divided
nothing left to subtract

He laces up his shoes on the playground, waiting for a chance to play basketball with the others. He stands there and waits as the players run and shoot and dribble and pass. He waits for a chance to get into the game; he waits for a chance to show everyone that he can play with them as an equal.

The bell rings, and all of the children go inside.

some words when spoken
can't be taken back

Two young people sit on the edge of the roof, looking out at the rows of corn below them. A cool breeze whispers through the blades of grass and slowly found its way up onto the roof, where it flew between them. They stare off into the sunlight together, both feeling the vague chill of the first breezes of the oncoming autumn. His eyes close for a minute, as if trying to recapture the essence of a dream long since lost.

He reaches his hand out to hers, but she doesn't take it.

walks on his own
with thoughts he can't help thinking

He comes home from school and finds the long-awaited letter from the university. He sees the logo from across the room and holds his breath, realizing that this envelope contains the truth about what he will be doing for the next four years, or maybe even the rest of his life.

The envelope is thin, and contains only a single sheet.

future's above
but in the past he's slow and sinking

A young man sits at his typewriter, looking at the empty sheet of paper in front of him, just as it had languished there for the last two weeks. His unwashed brown hair hangs down into his black circled eyes; his fingertips jitter nervously over the keyboard but refuse to press any keys. The paper laughs at him, taunting him with her pale, rough flesh. The young man cannot bear to look away, nor can he stand to look any longer.

caught a bolt of lightning
cursed the day he let it go
nothingman

Her parents are having a nice dinner, and he quietly eats his soup, not wanting to say anything to bother anyone. She steps out for a moment, and her father turns to him and tells him to get out of his daughter's life, that he isn't good enough for a fine lady like her, and that he should never come back, ever again. He looks solemnly down into his soup bowl.

He looks down and takes in another mouthful of soup.

nothingman
isn't it something?
nothingman

The man at the desk ruffled through his papers for a minute, then looked across the desk at the quiet youngish fellow with the disheveled brown hair. "I'm sorry," he says, "but we are looking for someone with more experience." He nods his head and leaves.

On the way home, he buys an ice cream cone and sits on a park bench to eat it, watching the pigeons play on the sidewalk.

she once believed
in every story he had to tell

A man in black is chasing him across a wheat field, and he can't escape. With a start, he gasps and is awake, and his wife is in bed next to him. He looks at her and thinks of waking her so she can hold him close, but she turns over to face away from him. He looks up at the ceiling for a while and closes his eyes again.

one day she stiffened
took the other side

The foreman looks up from his desk and sees his employee enter the room. The foreman puts his pen down, looks up at the man standing uncomfortably before him, and says, "We are in a bit of a bind and we have to cut a few people from the evening shift. We are going to have to let you go. If you need any references or anything, I would be glad to help." The man nodded, turned around, and walked out to his car. Above him, the sun shined brightly.

empty stares
from each corner of a shared prison cell

He sits in a chair, holding the sleeping baby on his lap as he reads the newspaper. She comes into the room and glares at him, then takes the baby away. "You can't hold him like that!" she scolds. "He needs to be held like this! I can't trust you to do anything!" He looks at her, nods, and turns his face back to the editorials.

one just escapes
one's left inside the well

The rain comes down as he drives through the town, looking out the windows to see if he can see her anywhere. He looks for the bright pink backpack that she took with her when she ran out, telling him that she hated him and that she wanted to find a daddy who wasn't mean to her. The windshield wipers glided back and forth as he goes down Main Street, hoping to find her before someone else does.

and he who forgets
will be destined to remember
nothingman

After writing the last check, he adds up the numbers and sees that he only has thirty seven dollars left in the checking account. He sighs and sits back in the chair, rubbing his temples. Just then, his wife walks in and says that she needs forty dollars for school supplies, and extends her hands expectantly. He looks up at her and wonders what she sees when she looks at him.

nothingman
isn't it something?
nothingman

He knocks on her door and, hearing nothing, he lets himself inside. She is facing away from him, her attention focused on furious writing on a piece of paper in front of her. He tries to tell her that things will be fine, but the words come out empty and hollow. No matter; she doesn't turn to him or even acknowledge that he has come into the room.

oh, she don't want him
oh, she won't feed him

He sits alone in the dark room, unable to sleep once again. The lights of passing cars are visible through the window; along with the glow of the city, they provide the only light. He closes his eyes, wishing that sleep would come and carry him through on that silent river until morning.

after he's flown away
into the sun
into the sun

He opens his eyes and sees his wife talking on the telephone. His eyes slowly pan across his side of the room: pale blue walls, an empty corkboard, and a few empty, dusty shelves. Across the room, several people sit talking to an older lady in another bed; she has dozens of flowers and countless cards hung up around her room. He shifts, and he can feel the sharp pain again, so he pushes the button for more pain medicine and closes his eyes again.

burn
burn
nothingman

He walks through the halls of the office one last time, seeing the faces of people he'll probably never see again. Some of them look up at him, but none of them really see him. He reaches the front door, puts on his hat, and walks out the door. Thirty five years, and no one notices when you leave for the last time.

nothingman
isn't it something?
nothingman

She lay on the bed, surrounded by an array of beeping and wheezing machines. She looks up at him, squeezes his hand gently, and soon the lines on the monitor become flat. The room fills with doctors, but he still stands there, looking down at the other half of the last fifty five years of his life.

nothingman
could have been something
nothingman

The people walked alongside the box, occasionally bowing their heads for a moment. "He looks so restful, like he is just taking a nap," one of them whispered to another. They all saw him, they all came to honor him, but no one knew what to feel.

When the speaker got up to say a few words, nothing came out of his mouth.


This review was checked with special care with regards to E2 FAQ: Copyrighted Material.

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