I bet you think you’re really fucking cool.
…And you’d be right to think so. I’ve been a fan of Pearl Jam as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I flew to Chicago to see a show by myself (I’m twenty and from NJ so it was a big deal for me) that I was seriously inspired. Your soul made me pick up a bass, something I had been thinking about for a while, and had me start to teach myself to play despite the fear I could totally suck. I kind of do, but that’s besides the point.
I am a fan of your brain, not your celebrity status, honestly. A fellow art aficionado, your creativity in all aspects of life inspires me to do better. I haven’t painted in a while? Well fuck, Jeff Ament just released some abstract art on the 10 Club newsletter… better step up my game and break out the damn watercolors.
I did hate you for about five minutes, though. I went to Temple of the Dog and thought you would appreciate learning about how you inspired a random kid, and held up a sign like an idiot. Mike McCready noticed it more than you did, and you just kind of nodded it off. Alas, my Sweet Lew, how could you? moment. I was pissed, but then I realized 1) you owe me nothing and I couldn’t expect a rockstar to notice nor care and 2) that’s exactly why I think you’re rad. You don’t care if people think that what you do is inspirational or shitty. You do what you want however you want it. You’re so in your zone at all times, and that’s what makes you epic and all of your creative energy so unique.
I’m writing this letter knowing that you will never see it, so I guess I have to type this out to generate my own personal catharsis. In addition to the Wrigley concert I went alone to, which was really my first true taste of freedom and music euphoria, you really helped me through a time where creativity took a hit in my life.
On top of a bunch of ongoing family issues, last year, a friend of mine who was the same age as me died. It was in a very tragic and unexpected way, as he basically fell off scaffolding on a skyscraper while doing what he loved (photography- he was taking pictures of the NYC skyline.) I can’t act like we were best friends, but we grew up together since kindergarten and he was close with my best friends. We were often thought about in the same light, since we both were “artsy” kids who grew up and changed a lot throughout our youth. It sucked extra that he was such a gentle and bright personality who inspired and uplifted so many of the people I love, and that he was taken away in such an odd and gruesome manner before he could even drink legally (and a night before I was going to see him.)
At first, the freak accident made me scared to live. My whole town shutdown, and it seemed like there wasn’t really a point to anything anymore. But, I remember being sad and listening to your album Tone and thinking, “this is so damn weird that it’s right”. Watching old videos of you jumping around in a funky hat and leg warmers playing bass for Green River, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam and all your other bands made me recognize just how important it is to be your truest self. I realized that you had been through some shit in your lifetime, but you didn’t let pain stop you… you molded it into jams that inspired millions. Something happened to me then where I got super motivated. I wanted to embody both you and the life of my friend that was taken too soon by living more fearlessly and authentically. It put me back on track.
Ever since, I have felt more myself than ever. Painting again, teaching myself bass, trying out audio engineering, chasing my non-profit PR dreams, and not letting what’s “cool” or safe take away from my goals. So thanks Jeff Ament, if you think you’re really fucking cool, you’re justified in doing so, and most definitely are not the only one who thinks it.