Pearl Jam Wiki



"Alive" is the first song on Momma-Son and the third song on Pearl Jam's debut album, Ten. The song was composed by guitarist Stone Gossard and its lyrics were written by Eddie Vedder before joining the band. It was Pearl Jam's first single from Ten, and the song charted at number 16 in the UK. The song's most memorable part is perhaps Mike McCready's guitar solo which is at least over 2 minutes long. Also, Alive is sometimes recognized as the band's "anthem", since it was their first single, which started as a success.


While trying to find a singer to their new band, the trio formed by Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Mike McCready recorded a tape containing some guitar jams intending to find a new vocalist. Through Jack Irons, one of the founding members of Red Hot Chili Peppers, this tape was offered to Eddie Vedder, a young man who lived in San Diego.

With all the musical context on his hand, Vedder was interested on meeting the trio and needed to show them a little of his musical contribution, that's when he recorded Momma-Son, three songs based on what he received from the forming band. On his own words, "I was working a security job in San Diego. I was just like writing music in my living room for the longest time, you know. This instrumental tape, it migrated to me, then it really started bringing out some emotions that I hadn't touched in a while. It just...this natural thing came out, and all I did was record it. I surfed on P.B one morning after work and went and recorded it, like, literally with the sand still on my feet and stuff and just sent it up that day."


"Alive" is part of a mini story written by Eddie Vedder, inspired not only on his creativeness but also based on little facts about his personal life that were surrounding his thoughts. The song tells the story of a mother who revealed to her son that his stepfather, who he considered to be his progenitor, is not his true father and the true one is in fact dead since the boy was thirteen years old. The mother, who shows being selfish and has little worry about her son's feelings, only laments about him not knowing his father, but is glad she could take this burden off of her mind. 

While the boy grew up, he became much like his father on his appearance, a fact that led his mother to romantically remember her husband. It is implied that she sexually abused of her son and leading him into chaos on his mind. After all what happened, the teenager was still alive and it left the question of how he could do it and maybe no one could answer. Vedder states that when write, to be alive was a curse to this man, but through the years the audience changed the meaning of the song as they turned the "curse" into a positive element.

The song resembles short facts about Vedder's life, since his stepfather wasn't his real father and he only knew who was the one when he was a teenager. This was very hard for him through his life and was crucial for his way of being. 


"Alive" is in the key of A major. It features a guitar riff that begins with an A5 power chord and then it slides down to the 7th fret. The pre-chorus chords are F and B, while the chord progression for the chorus and guitar solo is E-G-D-A.

Music & Lyrics[]


Pearl Jam - Alive

Son, she said, have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothin' but a
While you were sittin' home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dyin'
Sorry you didn't see him
But I'm glad we talked

Oh, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, oh

Oh, she walks slowly, across a young man's room
She said I'm ready for you
I can't remember anything to this very day
'Cept the look, the look
Oh, you know where
Now, I can't see, I just stare

I, I'm still alive
Hey, I, but, I'm still alive
Hey, I, boy, I'm still alive
Hey, I, I, I'm still alive, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Is something wrong? she said
Well, of course, there is
You're still alive, she said
Oh, and do I deserve to be?
Is that the question?
And if so, if so, who answers? who answers?

I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, but, I'm still alive
Yeah, I, oh, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

(Guitar solo)
Wow, uh-huh
Yeah, uh-huh
Oh, wow, uh-huh
Yeah, uh-huh
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah