Immortality (Pearl Jam song)

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Single by Pearl Jam
from the album Vitalogy
B-side"Rearviewmirror" (performed by The Frogs)
ReleasedJune 6, 1995
RecordedMarch–April 1994 at Southern Tracks Recording and Doppler Studios, Atlanta, Georgia and April–May 1994 at Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, Washington
GenreAlternative rock, grunge[1]
Songwriter(s)Eddie Vedder
Producer(s)Brendan O'Brien, Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam singles chronology
"Not for You"
"'Merkin Ball'"
Audio sample

"Immortality" is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam, released on June 6, 1995 as the third single from the band's third studio album, Vitalogy (1994). Although credited to all members of Pearl Jam, it was primarily written by vocalist Eddie Vedder. The song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song was included on Pearl Jam's 2004 greatest hits album, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003).


The lyrical interpretation of "Immortality" can be disputed, as many feel it may be about Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's death, although vocalist Eddie Vedder has denied this. He stated:

No, that was written when we were on tour in Atlanta. It's not about Kurt. Nothing on the album was written directly about Kurt, and I don't feel like talking about him, because it [might be seen] as exploitation. But I think there might be some things in the lyrics that you could read into and maybe will answer some questions or help you understand the pressures on someone who is on a parallel train...[2]

In a later interview, Vedder talked about how he thought of Cobain and himself as "parallel trains." He said, "You look at it objectively and you think, 'What could be so fucking hard about being in a band?' But if you're coming from a place that's real, it's much harder."[3]

Release and reception[edit]

"Immortality" peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 31 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. In Canada, the song reached number 62 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and later it charted on the Canadian Alternative Top 30 chart where it reached number ten. "Immortality" reached the top 30 in New Zealand.

In Allmusic's review of the "Immortality" single, it was stated that "Immortality" is "the best ballad from the otherwise spotty Vitalogy."[4] Jon Pareles of The New York Times called it a "sullen Neil Young-style march" in which Eddie Vedder "ruminates over suicide as an end to pain."[5] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said that "the sulking, lashing "Immortality" appears to be a Big Statement song about death, yet you'd never know that from its obtuse lyrics."[6]

Live performances[edit]

"Immortality" was first performed live at the band's April 11, 1994 concert in Boston, Massachusetts at the Boston Garden.[7] The lyrics that appeared in the first live version of the song were altered before release. Live performances of "Immortality" can be found on various official bootlegs and the live album Live at Benaroya Hall.

The alternate version played in Boston in 1994 featured first-person lyrics, as opposed to the third person lyrics on the studio take, ending in what could be thought of as a reference to the Neil Young song, Hey Hey My My, where Vedder sang the lyrics "Hey hey, this is my last day... my my, know how hard I try/Hey hey, I wouldn't love to stay, my my, I wish I could get high". For years, this version was only available through bootlegs, but a large portion of an April 12, 1994, concert from the Orpheum in Boston, including Immortality, was included on a bonus disc of the Vs./Vitalogy re-issue.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Dave Abbruzzese, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, and Eddie Vedder.

  1. "Immortality" – 5:18
  2. "Rearviewmirror" – 5:18

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1995) Position
Australia (ARIA)[8] 51
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[9] 62
Canadian RPM Alternative 30[10] 10
New Zealand Singles Chart[11] 29
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[12] 31
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[13] 10


  1. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (October 21, 1995). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 22–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ Hilburn, Robert. "All Revved Up (As Usual)". Los Angeles Times. November 20, 1994.
  3. ^ Simpson, Dave (August 13, 2009). "Pearl Jam: 'People get that this means something'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  4. ^ Torreano, Bradley. "Immortality". Allmusic. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  5. ^ Pareles, Jon. "RECORDINGS VIEW; Pearl Jam Gives Voice To Sisyphus". The New York Times. December 4, 1994. Retrieved on December 13, 2007.
  6. ^ Browne, David. Vitalogy. Entertainment Weekly. December 9, 1994. Retrieved on May 17, 2008.
  7. ^ pjvideoguy (March 30, 2013), Pearl Jam - 1994-04-11 Boston, MA (Full Concert), retrieved September 5, 2018
  8. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 30 Jul 1995". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  9. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 1, August 14, 1995". RPM. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2008.
  10. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 61, No. 27, August 07 1995". RPM. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  11. ^ "PEARL JAM - IMMORTALITY (SONG)". New Retrieved July 17, 2007.
  12. ^ "Pearl Jam Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Pearl Jam Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2017.

External links[edit]