|Single by Pearl Jam featuring Neil Young|
|A-side||"I Got Id"|
|Released||December 5, 1995|
|Recorded||February 7–10, 1995
Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, Washington
|Genre||Alternative rock, grunge|
|Pearl Jam chronology|
"Merkin Ball" is a two-song single by the American alternative rock band Pearl Jam featuring Neil Young, released on December 5, 1995 through Epic Records. Merkin Ball is a companion to Neil Young's 1995 album, Mirror Ball. The EP 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. 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." Vedder said that "leaving the house wasn't the easiest thing to do." Vedder would refer to the issue in the song "Lukin " from Pearl Jam's 1996 album, No Code.
Vedder wrote and performed vocals and guitar on the songs "I Got Id" and "Long Road" which were omitted from Mirror Ball. 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 Mirrorball 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" while 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 on "Long Road".
Music and lyrics
Mirror Ball and Merkin Ball complement each other musically. Jonathan Cohen of Allmusic called "I Got Id" "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."
"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. 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." 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.
At Pearl Jam's July 7, 2006 concert in San Diego, California 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. 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 following "about eight minutes" the rest of the performers on the track joined in without saying anything and began to bring the song to life.
Release and reception
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]." 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."
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.
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. In an interview, Vedder said that the title refers to an "arrowhead."
The handwritten nature and positioning of the band's name and release title also mirror elements of the cover of Neil Young's Tonight's The Night album (1975).
All songs written and composed by Eddie Vedder.
|1.||"I Got Id" (Also known as "I Got Shit")||4:53|
- Pearl Jam
- Jeff Ament – bass guitar on "Long Road"
- Jack Irons – percussion, drums
- Eddie Vedder – guitar, vocals
- Additional musicians and production
- Neil Young – guitar, pump organ, vocals
- Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – vocals on "Long Road"
- Brendan O'Brien – bass guitar on "I Got Id"
- Joel Bernstein – portraits
- Brett Eliason – production, engineering and mixing
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions|
|1995||"I Got Id"||7||2||3||2||78||10||3||29||38||5||17||14||25|
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