The Eclectic Quill

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Vedder Tuesday ⅩⅤ: Mamasan (Alive, Once, Footsteps)

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This story has been told by many others and at greater length, but Stone Gossard, after the breakup of Mother Love Bone, put a band together and recorded a tape of instrumental demos which he then circulated, trying to find a vocalist.  The tape landed in the possession of San Diego surfer (and gas station attendant) Eddie Vedder, who couldn't get the music out of his head, wrote the lyrics to a mini opera, made a tape of his vocals on top of the band's music, and sent the tape back to Seattle.

The opera is called "Mamasan".  It is about a young man who was never told that his step-father was not his real father until the death of the latter, at which point the young man's mother tells him so and, due to the resemblance of father and son, begins an incestuous relationship with him.  This traumatizes the young man; he wonders if his survival and his father's death is a curse, and becomes a serial rapist and murderer, driving on wild sprees through the countryside, until he is caught and, languishing in prison, blames everything on his mother. 

So ... yeah.  That's ... not exactly ... glam, is it?  That's a fair departure from 1980s hair metal.

Mamasan

Alive

"Son," she said, "have I got a little story for you.
"What you thought was your was your daddy was nothing but a fool
"While you were sitting home alone at age thirteen,
"Your real father was dying. Sorry you didn't see him, but I'm glad we talked."

Oh, I'm still alive

She walks slowly across a young man's room.
She said "I'm ready for you."
I can't remember anything of this very day,
Except the look
The look...
Oh, you know where!
Now I can't see, I just stare

I'm still alive

"Is something wrong?" she said
Of course there is!
"You're still alive!" she said
Oh, and do I deserve to be?
Is that the question?
And if so...
If so...
Who answers?
Who answers?

I'm still alive
Oh, I'm still alive
But I'm still alive

I'm still alive

Once

I admit it!  What's to say?
I'll relive it without pain
Backseat lover on the side of the road
I've got a bomb in my temple that is gonna explode
I've got a sixteen gauge buried under my clothes, I play...
Once upon a time I could control myself
Once upon a time I could lose myself

Oh, try and mimic what's insane
I am in it!  Where do I stand?
Oh, Indian summer and I hate the heat
I've got a backstreet lover on the passenger seat
I've got my hand in my pocket, so determined, discreet, I pray...
Once upon a time I could control myself
Once upon a time I could lose myself

You think I've got my eyes closed but I'm looking at you the whole fucking time

Once upon a time I could control myself
Once upon a time I could lose myself
Once upon a time I could love myself
Once upon a time I could love you
Once.

Footsteps

Don't even think about reaching me;
I won't be home
Don't even think about stopping by --
Don't think of me at all
I did what I had to do
If there was a reason, it was you

Don't even think about getting inside;
Voices in my head, voices
Oh, I've got scratches all over my arms
One for each day since I fell apart
I did what I had to do
If there was a reason, it was you

Footsteps in the hall, it was you.  You.
Pictures on my chest, it was you.  You.
It was you

I did what I had to do
And if there was a reason
Oh, there wasn't no reason, no!
And if there's something you'd like to do --
Just let me continue to blame you

Footsteps in the hall, it was you.  You
Pictures on my chest, it was you.
You.
You.

Back next week!

One Response to Vedder Tuesday ⅩⅤ: Mamasan (Alive, Once, Footsteps)

  1. Bob Mike says:

    That’s … not exactly … glam, is it?  That’s a fair departure from 1980s hair metal.

    As much as I love these songs, that does seem kind of uncharitable to glam. It's definitely a departure from hair metal, but the glam artists of the early 70s practically paved the way for this sort of music. The subject matter isn't terribly removed from the sort of thing that Bowie (circa Scary Monsters) or Lou Reed (holy shit, Kill Your Sons) did twenty years earlier (and arguably more authentically, as both of the works listed were largely autobiographical). Mamasan is amazing, but I think that glam deserves a slightly better status than you're assigning it.

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