Not every classic song has to be written in the same way. For the more seasoned songwriters, it normally takes a while to get the song to just where it needs to be, as you continue to finetune until you find something that’s going to stand the test of time. Then again, it’s sometimes just a matter of being in the right place at the right time to make something special.
For almost all of these bands, these songs were never meant to be written to begin with, being just sketches that they were messing around with or just demos that were never meant to see the light of day. Once they reached the rest of the band though, they started to take on their classic form, adding the different bells and whistles that would become synonymous with the version that we know today. Even though these may have been done by accident, that’s not to say they didn’t put their heart and soul into them either.
Part of the appeal of these songs comes from just how much they put their blood, sweat, and tears into making it, fleshing out this little joke of an idea until it was ready for primetime. In the words of the great Bob Ross, there’s still a whole lot of potential that can come out of the happiest little accidents.
10. Elderly Woman - Pearl Jam
After the colossal success of their debut album Ten, Pearl Jam had the momentum of a freight train. Even though Eddie Vedder had his reservations with the idea of fame, the band were already hard at work trying to make something that was even heavier than the record they had just made. There was no time to waste, and Eddie found a song out of just dusting the cobwebs out.
During one of the breaks between playing live and recording, Eddie had picked up an acoustic guitar he had lying around and started messing with a few chords to get his chops back up. With Stone Gossard in the next room, Eddie started to vocalize different melodies until hitting on something that was a lot stronger than what they were working on. Aside from just a few chords, the concept of Elderly Woman is much closer to a folk tune mostly, telling the story of two friends meeting up after a long time, one who has moved on with their life and the other never being able to escape the small town that they tried to run away from in their youth.
It sticks out more like a sore thumb on Vs. though, with this and Daughter being the only two low points on the record alongside some of the more abrasive cuts like Blood and Go. These were tense times for Pearl Jam’s future, but it’s songs like these that kept them above ground most of the time.