W.M.A. (song)

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Song by Pearl Jam from the album Vs.
Released October 19, 1993
Recorded March 1993 – May 1993 at The Site, Nicasio, California
Genre Alternative rock, grunge
Length 5:59
Label Epic
Writer Eddie Vedder, Dave Abbruzzese, Jeff Ament
Producer Brendan O'Brien, Pearl Jam
Vs. track listing
(Track 5)
(Track 6)
(Track 7)

"W.M.A." is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam that appears on the band's 1993 album Vs. It is the sixth track on the album. "W.M.A." stands for "White Male American".

Origin and recording[edit]

The drums for "W.M.A." were recorded as a two-measure drum track and were looped throughout the song. Drummer Dave Abbruzzese later added octobans, a cymbal, a tambourine, and a sleigh bell as overdubs to the track.[1] Bassist Jeff Ament on the song:

Before we'd gotten to the studio, a version of "W.M.A." had begun to evolve with more parts to it, where we played things differently. And then from my end, I decided to pull back the reins and play the same bass line through the whole thing – just play this groove over what is essentially a drum loop. So the bass and the drums are this steady train throughout the whole song. The layers of guitars and vocals, those are the real dynamics of the whole song. Dave and I just laid down the foundation.[2]


Frontman Eddie Vedder on the story behind "W.M.A.":

I think I'd probably stayed at the rehearsal studio the night before and it had been a couple of days since I had a shower and I've got my old shoes on and I don't look too great, a little grunge on my teeth or whatever. And I'm sitting there with this guy who's of a darker color than me, and along come these cops, they run around with their bikes trying to look cool. So here they come, they're heading straight for us. And they just ignored me and [started] hassling him. Compared to me, this guy looks as respectable as fuck. But they started hassling him, and that just blew me the fuck away. So I started hassling them...And one thing led to another...I was just really wound up by it...I had all this fucking energy rushing through me. I was mad. Really fucking angry. I got back to the studio and the guys had been working on this thing and I just went straight in and did the vocals, and that was the song.[3]

The lyric page for the song in the album's liner notes features a portion of a news story concerning Malice Green, a victim of police brutality.

Critical reception[edit]

"W.M.A." received generally positive reviews from critics following its release. Tim Karan of diffuser.fm described it as a "driving and exotic lashing out at police brutality."[4]

The song was featured in the 2002 video game Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer.

Live performances[edit]

The song was premiered live at the band's May 13, 1993 concert in San Francisco, California.[5] Following a performance of the song on February 18, 1995 in Sendai, Japan, it was not played for thirteen years.[6] However, during that time period the lyrics from the song were tagged on at the end "Daughter" many times, such as the version of "Daughter" that appears on the 1998 live album Live on Two Legs. The song in its entirety finally made a return appearance as a re-worked version during Pearl Jam's set at the 2008 Bonnaroo Music Festival.[5] A live performance of the song can be found on the "Dissident"/Live in Atlanta box set featuring Doug Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill of King's X.


External links[edit]