Merkin Ball

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"Merkin Ball"
Merkin Ball album cover.jpg
Single by Pearl Jam featuring Neil Young
A-side"I Got Id"
B-side"Long Road"
ReleasedDecember 5, 1995 (1995-12-05)
RecordedFebruary 7–10, 1995
StudioBad Animals, Seattle, Washington
Songwriter(s)Eddie Vedder
Producer(s)Brett Eliason
Pearl Jam singles chronology
"Merkin Ball"
"Who You Are"

Merkin Ball is a two-song single by the American alternative rock band Pearl Jam. It features Neil Young and was released on December 5, 1995, through Epic Records. Merkin Ball is a companion to Young's 1995 album, Mirror Ball. It has been certified gold by the RIAA in the United States.


The tracks on Merkin Ball were recorded at the tail end of the Mirror Ball sessions in February 1995.[1] The songs were produced and mixed by Pearl Jam sound engineer Brett Eliason. Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder was not around much for the Mirror Ball recording sessions due to what he called a "pretty intense stalker problem".[2] Vedder said that "leaving the house wasn't the easiest thing to do."[2] He would refer to the issue in the song "Lukin" from Pearl Jam's 1996 album, No Code.[3]

Vedder wrote and performed vocals and guitar on the songs "I Got Id" and "Long Road", which were omitted from Mirror Ball.[4] Because of legal complications between Epic Records and Reprise Records, the songs and the band name "Pearl Jam" were not allowed to be included on the full Mirror Ball album, so they were released separately as a Pearl Jam single. Neil Young contributed lead guitar to "I Got Id" and pump organ to "Long Road". Mirror Ball producer Brendan O'Brien plays bass on "I Got Id", and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament plays bass on "Long Road". Pearl Jam drummer Jack Irons plays drums on both tracks. Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan contributed backing vocals to a later recording of "Long Road".[5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Mirror Ball and Merkin Ball complement each other musically. Jonathan Cohen of AllMusic said that "I Got Id" was "an even mix of Vitalogy's raw rock and No Code's major-key majesty" and said regarding "Long Road" that "Vedder's melody is uplifting, his lyrics poignant."[1] "I Got Id" is also known by its original title "I Got Shit" by the band and its fans. It is rumored that when Vedder proposed the idea of a single to Epic, the label made him change the title of the song.[1] In some concert performances, Vedder has also introduced the song as "I Got I.D." Upon introducing the song at Pearl Jam's September 19, 1998, concert in Washington, D.C. at Constitution Hall, Vedder stated that "Neil Young gave me a song writing lesson at a half-price rate; this is what I came up with...on my final, he gave me a B+ I think."[6] At Pearl Jam's May 10, 2006, concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the Air Canada Centre, Vedder revealed that the song's chorus melody was inspired by the verse melody in Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" from the 1969 album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.[7]

At Pearl Jam's July 7, 2006, concert in San Diego at Cox Arena, Vedder revealed that he wrote "Long Road" after hearing about the death of his former high school drama teacher and mentor, Clayton E. Liggett.[8] He added that he began to hit the opening D-chords of "Long Road" as if he was "trying to ring a bell to say that 'We lost one of the good ones,'" and after "about eight minutes," the rest of the performers on the track joined in without saying anything and began to bring the song to life.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly(B+)[9]

Merkin Ball has been certified gold by the RIAA.[10] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave Merkin Ball a B+. Browne called "I Got Id" a "standard PJ chest thumper" and stated that "Long Road" "[takes] Young and Pearl Jam into a mystical zone never hinted at on [Mirror Ball]."[9] AllMusic staff writer Jonathan Cohen gave the record two and a half out of five stars, saying, "By no means essential, but well worth a spin."[1] The A-side of Merkin Ball, "I Got Id", debuted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. "I Got Id" reached number two on the Mainstream Rock charts and number three on the Modern Rock charts. In September 2001, Vedder and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready were joined by Young to perform "Long Road" from Merkin Ball at the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert. "Long Road" was also used in the films Dead Man Walking, Outsourced, and Eat Pray Love and in the episode "My Five Stages" of the sitcom Scrubs.


A wrecking ball graces the cover art of Merkin Ball. Mirror Ball and Merkin Ball complement each other in the layout and content of the packaging. The title Merkin Ball is a play on Mirror Ball. A merkin is commonly known as a pubic wig. Vedder came up with the title.[11] In an interview, Vedder said that the title refers to an "arrowhead".[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Eddie Vedder.

1."I Got Id" (Also known as "I Got Shit"[1])4:53
2."Long Road"5:59
Total length:10:52


Pearl Jam

Additional musicians and production

Chart positions[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions
US Main
US Mod
1995 "I Got Id" 7 2 3 2 78 10 3 29 38 5 17 14 25


  1. ^ a b c d e f Cohen, Jonathan. "allmusic ((( Merkin Ball > Review )))". AllMusic. Retrieved March 21, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Weisbard, Eric, et al. "Ten Past Ten". Spin. August 2001.
  3. ^ Hiatt, Brian (2006-06-16). "The Second Coming of Pearl Jam". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
  4. ^ Strauss, Neil. "The Predictably Unpredictable Neil Young". The New York Times. July 2, 1995. Retrieved on March 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Manheim (2001). Michel Andre Bossy; Thomas Brothers; John C. McEnore (eds.). Lives and Legacies: Artists, Writers, and Musicians. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 105. ISBN 978-1573561549.
  6. ^ "Pearl Jam: 1998 Concert Chronology: Part 3".
  7. ^ a b "Pearl Jam Concert Chronology: 2006".
  8. ^ Varga, George. "By finish, Pearl Jam, Vedder had a connection" Archived 2009-02-24 at the Wayback Machine. The San Diego Union-Tribune. July 10, 2006.
  9. ^ a b Browne, David (1995-12-22). "Merkin Ball". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  10. ^ "Gold and Platinum Database Search". Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  11. ^ "Pearl Jam Rumor Pit: Issue #11" Archived 2008-02-19 at the Wayback Machine. November 15, 1995.
  12. ^ Kava, Brad. "'I'm Just looking to make it right.' – E.V." November 3, 1995.
  13. ^ a b c "Pearl Jam Artist Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2007-04-28.
  14. ^ "Pearl Jam — Merkinball (EP) (Single) (98732)". Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  15. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 24, January 29, 1996". RPM. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
  16. ^ Billboard magazine - 20 January 1996 - p.47 - "Hits of the World" section. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  17. ^ "Finnish Single/Album Chart / Pearl Jam / Longplay". Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts — All there is to know". Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  19. ^ "Dutch Single/Album Chart / Pearl Jam / Longplay". Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  20. ^ "Norwegian Single/Album Chart / Pearl Jam / Longplay". Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  21. ^ "Pearl Jam — Merkinball (EP) (Song)". New Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  22. ^ "Swedish Single/Album Chart / Pearl Jam / Longplay". Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  23. ^ "". Retrieved 2007-02-16.

External links[edit]