Best Songs Ever: Pearl Jam 'Jeremy'

1/30/13

Pearl Jam's debut album, Ten, is a seemingly endless source of Best Songs Ever, though none of them conceal a tale as chilling as “Jeremy.” This song is based on the true story of Jeremy Delle, a 16-year-old boy who killed himself in front of his classmates at Richardson High School in Texas in 1991. Eddie Vedder read about Delle in a local newspaper and was inspired to write “Jeremy” from the perspective of one of the pupils who witnessed the suicide. Vedder explained:

“It came from a small paragraph in a paper which means you kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you're gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper. The world goes on and you're gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself. Be stronger than those people. And then you can come back.”

“Jeremy” was inspired by tragedy, and later, inspired tragedy. In 1996, a 14-year-old boy, Barry Loukaitis, shot and killed two students and a teacher at Frontier Middle School in Washington. Loukaitis later claimed that he was imitating the controversial video for “Jeremy,” which was directed by the rock aesthetician, Mark Pellington, in 1992:

In 1992, Pearl Jam performed this song at the MTV Video Music Awards. That same evening, “Jeremy” was awarded four moon men, including Best Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Metal/Hard Rock Video and Best Direction:

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Lyrics:

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below

Daddy didn't give attention
To the fact that mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Clearly I remember
Pickin' on the boy
Seemed a harmless little ****
But we unleashed a lion
Gnashed his teeth
And bit the recess lady's breast

How could I forget
He hit me with a surprise left
My jaw left hurting
Dropped wide open

Just like the day
Like the day I heard

Daddy didn't give affection
And the boy was something mommy wouldn't wear
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Try to forget this,
Try to erase this,
From the blackboard