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Rate Unemployable
5 Stars: Scared Alive 21%  21%  [ 18 ]
4 Stars: I've seen the light 33%  33%  [ 28 ]
3 Stars: out of lyrics for a clever option for 3 stars 28%  28%  [ 24 ]
2 Stars: Near to death 6%  6%  [ 5 ]
1 Stars: Here to die 4%  4%  [ 4 ]
0 Stars: Not even jesus could save this piece of crap, no matter how pimped out with gold jewelry he is. 4%  4%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 83
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 Post subject: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:54 pm 
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Unemployable

He's got a big gold ring what says "Jesus Saves"
And it's dented from the punch thrown at work that day
When he smashed the metal locker where he kept his things
After the big boss said, "You best be on your way"

Oh yeah
So this life is sacrifice

Oh yeah
Jumping trains just to survive

Well, his wife and kid are sleeping but he's still awake
On his brain weighs the curse of thirty bills unpaid
Gets up, lights a cigarette he's grown to hate
Thinking if he can't sleep, how will he ever dream?

Oh yeah
So this life is sacrifice

Oh yeah
To a stranger's bottom line

Oh yeah
I seen the light,... Uh-oh oh oh, uh-oh oh oh
I'm scared alive,...
Near to death,... Uh-oh oh oh, uh-oh oh oh
I seen the light,...
Scared alive.

Oh yeah
So this life is sacrifice
Oh yeah
Was a dream that had to die (they can't say I never tried)

Oh Yeah
I seen the light,... Uh-oh oh oh, uh-oh oh oh
I'm scared alive,...
Near to death,... Uh-oh oh oh, uh-oh oh oh
I seen the light,...
Scared alive,.... Uh-oh oh oh, uh-oh oh oh
Near to death.

Hear to die.
Scared alive.

Near to death.
Here to die.
Scared alive.


-----------------

Unemployable is a pretty typical 3.5 star pearl jam song for me, with a lot of strong moments and potential that never fully hits it mark. It has aged well though, at least for me. I was not a fan of this when it first came out (although to be fair most songs would have been disappointing to me matched up against WWS) but I appreciate it much more now.

Musically it’s got a solid central riff and a nice rich feel to it. The jangly feel to it, especially with the ohh, ohh, ohh parts remind me of a Bruce Springsteen song (or possibly R.E.M.) and it fits with the working class vibe Eddie is trying to channel here. I can’t help but think of Bruce when this one comes on. But at the same time the music feels oddly empty to me. The component parts are all there but it somehow feels like something is missing. I get a similar vibe from songs like faithful, light years, and in hiding which I know are adored by most, so maybe it’s just me. And I also must admit I’m not a fan of Eddie’s vocals in this one. He sings it fine and I like the energy but I don’t like the overall sound of this one.

Lyrically unemployable is fairly strong, and makes a nice precursor to gone (and these two songs are both stronger in conversation with each other). Both deal with the death of the ‘American Dream’—that if you do hard, honest work you’ll have your house, your car, your comfort, and your security. It’s the loss of that sense of security and the attendant hopelessness and dread that is what drives unemployable, and the darkness of the song is offset in an interesting way by the overall upbeat sing-songy nature of the vocals (something Eddie is really pulling from Springsteen here). Eddie leaves out a lot of the details of the main characters situation, other than intimating that the character is a victim of an economic logic that privileges shareholders and profits over the needs of workers and their families. Because Eddie doesn’t fill in the gaps he could be suffering from our failing health care system, our failing pension system, the enormous burden of debt caused by stagnant wages, or any one of the other problems affecting the working classes in the U.S.

But the song doesn’t really dwell here. This is background the listener needs to import for their own context. What makes the song compelling is the subjects attempt to deal with the aftermath—the sense of paralysis, fear, guilt, failure (in the American psychology unemployment is seen as a personal failing, not a consequence of larger economic structures) and uncertainty about the future.

Since Unemployable is part of a larger dialogue within S/T (and especially can’t be understood without reference to Gone) there isn’t really any resolution in the song. But there is, as is almost always the case, that moment of hope. We find it here in the scared alive lyric. Despite the sense of defeat and blame that pervades the rest of the song, there is also that moment of recognition, of political awakening , awareness of the structures of power that influence his life. We cannot do anything about them until we first learn to see them (a lesson Eddie would have taken out of both Zinn and Quinn).

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:57 pm 
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I went with three stars. I think I'd give it 3.5 but it is defintiely closer to 3 than 4.

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"Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference."--FDR

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:17 pm 
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that's probably the song of Avocado that has undergone the most change for me.

I didn't like it when I first started listening to S/T..only Parachutes I disliked more (that one has not change 1 bit, not even live).

then I really got into it for a while, listening to it on repeat even.
But then got tired of it.
I don't think it works particularly well live either.

Lyurics I like, and nothing wrong with the music, but Ed's vocals..I don't know..especially on the chorus.

so only 2 now (at it's height I might have gone to 4)

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looking forward to 2010 and:
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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:34 pm 
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good write-up, stip!
this is my favorite cameron song so far (within PJ). i understand mike may have rounded the edges musically and i love the results. it has a harmonic richness rarely encountered in the band's catalogue and while i don't usually think ed's voice needs to be double-tracked, this works really well on this cut.
unemployable doesn't sound like PJ though, which isn't a flaw imo. maybe its catchyness is an element that distracts S/T's detractors from this album's steps forward for pearl jam; for once since a good while, the band widens its musical scope without it sounding forced. that's what i admire in tracks like LIFE WASTED, PARACHUTES, UNEMPLOYABLE, ARMY RESERVE and INSIDE JOB.
the minus part for me is the outro - i'm not sure this serves the subject matter well or not. i think they could have returned to the main riff a couple of times after the mock fade-out. that would have ended the song on a high note.
lyrically it's a pretty good example of restraint that leaves a lot to the listener's imagination. it's far from being cryptic (hello, matt, stone and jeff :wave: ) - each line is strong with clever imagery but eddie's not overreaching here. it could easily have had two more verses but it's better like it is. the scene is set, the characters breathe, we know where they're from BUT we don't know where their story's heading, much like the unemployable man himself.
4 stars

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:42 pm 
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I really love this song...is it a top 20 PJ song, no....but I still really dig it...loved it paired with WWS when I first heard the two songs....Eddie vocals are awesome on this one...hitting those oh oh ohs is no small feat...so catchy...4 stars...


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:02 pm 
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This song has some of my favorite lyrics of all time.
1 star

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:13 pm 
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When the lyrics were release, I didn't like them at all. I associated them with lyrics I wrote in high school about hating to work and trying to avoid the "real world." Putting the words to music totally changed my outlook. Avocado (not completely) but improved my opinion of Matt's song-writing. He was pulling an 0-fer until Avocado.

The chorus gives me chills. I love the oh-oh-ohs. I also love extras like Matt's hi-hat sounds during the main riff and how the song drops while going into the chorus. On paper, I'm still not crazy about the lyrics. I like the "jumping trains" image, but overall, I think I expect something more vague from Ed. Obviously, he wasn't going for vague...but it was lacking. I still love to listen to the song. and Avocado is still my #2 PJ record and Unemployable is probably my 5th or 6th favorite tune on the album.

3 stars


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:29 pm 
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I can see how some people would really like this song. I'm not one of them. 1 star.


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:43 pm 
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There's nothing inherently wrong with the music in this song and I even enjoy it sometimes ... but musically it's my least favorite tune on Avocado so it suffers for that.

It is however, really solid lyrical work from Ed. Stip is right that both this and Gone feel like the "Ed does Springsteen" part of the record, but I tend to like Bruce so it's hard to complain. However, whereas the idea of the point of Gone is more appealing to me than the actual lyrical execution, I think Unemployable is a big winner. It takes something that seems mundane and uninteresting for a lyric and turns it into something that is both powerful and universal. For a very personal song about this guy who is himself out of work, etc., this song is still very personal and relatable for me, steadily-employed as I am. It's like "My Hometown" in that way, or "Glory Days." I've never had experiences like those, but the songs hit home. (Worldwide Suicide could also fit in this category)

I also think that it's important Stip pointed out the "scared alive" lyric, as it's one of the most important on the record. A more cynical Eddie would see this man and the many he represents as a reason for pity, or maybe even derision (this seems like the kind of guy who might vote Republican in defiance of his economic interests). In this song, there's hope. At first it seems out of place, but the "scared alive" lyric makes all the difference. Because of that lyric, this isn't so much a song about the inevitable decline as it is a "here he is in his darkest moment and it's always darkest before the light" kind of song. If he can wake up and see that what's wrong isn't his fault (or the fault of some supposed Mexican or Indian who stole his job) then change can start with this man. That seems the point of the song, but in an oddly subtle way for Ed, who tends to be Subtle with a capital B even when he's trying.

Still, since I personally don't love listening to it and it's more of an intellectual/lyrical winner, I only gave it 3 stars.


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:22 pm 
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Why doesn't Ed ever sing about people who haven't been crushed by the American dream?

Just think of all the great stories out there Ed...

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:30 pm 
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Man in Black wrote:
Why doesn't Ed ever sing about people who haven't been crushed by the American dream?

Just think of all the great stories out there Ed...


art tends to be about strife, of some kind or another. happiness is neither very interesting nor very inspirational.


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:35 pm 
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Man in Black wrote:
Why doesn't Ed ever sing about people who haven't been crushed by the American dream?

Just think of all the great stories out there Ed...

There are so many who do it to choose from why bother with Eddie?

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:36 pm 
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Man in Black wrote:
Why doesn't Ed ever sing about people who haven't been crushed by the American dream?

Just think of all the great stories out there Ed...

because they're the exception rather than the rule?

_________________
2009 was a great year for PJ gigs
looking forward to 2010 and:
Columbus, Noblesville, Cleveland, Buffalo, Dublin, Belfast, London, Nijmegen, Berlin, Arras, Werchter, Lisbon, some more US (wherever is the Anniversary show/a birthday show)


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:50 pm 
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Pegasus wrote:
Man in Black wrote:
Why doesn't Ed ever sing about people who haven't been crushed by the American dream?

Just think of all the great stories out there Ed...

because they're the exception rather than the rule?


:roll:

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:49 pm 
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This song is complete and utter brilliance. Best song from Avocado by a huge margin.

Wish I could give it six stars.


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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:17 pm 
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4 stars... has a classic-rock vibe to it.

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:22 pm 
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It has a nice groove to it and I like the oh oh ohs. Somewhere between a 3 and a 4, but I bumped it up into a 4.

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:22 pm 
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The song gets a a solid three stars from me, a good song but not great. This song took a while to grow on me but now I like it and listen to it on occasion.

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:11 am 
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The oh oh oh's are very distracting. I always think to myself "Man, Eddie feels like a woman".

The rest of the song is fine, but considering that's a frequent portion, it takes away from the track for me. I'd say probably a 3 at the very best.

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 Post subject: Re: SOTM #120: If he can't sleep how will he ever dream....
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:17 am 
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if the lyrics were a little better (the chorus bothers me) it would be high 4 stars i love the music itself but as it is 3.5 stars

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