Front matter

Alive

Son, she said
Have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy
Was nothin' but a 

While you were sittin'
Home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dyin'
Sorry you didn't see him
But I'm glad we talked

Oh I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, hey, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey I, oh, I'm still alive, yeah oh

While she walks slowly
Across a young man's room
She said I'm ready, for you
I can't remember anything
To this very day
'Cept the look, the look
Oh, you know where

Now I can't see, I just stare
I, I, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah I, oh, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah I, oh, I'm still alive
Yeah, yeah I, oh, I'm still alive, yeah

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

 

Pearl Jam, Alive. Songwriters: Stone C. Gossard / Eddie Jerome Vedder

Alive lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

In 1990, guitarist Stone Gossard was with the rock band Mother Love Bone, who were at the forefront of Seattle’s burgeoning music scene. He wrote the music for a song he called Dollar Short, which the band’s front man, Andrew Wood sang. After Wood died of a heroine overdose, Gossard and his bandmate Jeff Ament started playing with guitarist Mike McCready in the hope of starting a new band. Jack Irons, a friend of Gossard's who played drums in The Red Hot Chili Peppers, was approached about joining, but he had another commitment. He thought Eddie Vedder might be a good fit as the singer, so he gave Eddie the demo tape.

Vedder, who was working as a security guard for a petroleum company in San Diego, wrote lyrics to Dollar Short, about a boy who finds out the man he calls father is in fact, his stepfather; his real father is dead. He later revealed that the song was "a work of fiction based on reality," and the chorus of "I'm still alive" was what he considered his curse: his own struggle to deal with the strained relationship with his stepfather and the fact that his real father was dead.

In an episode of VH1's Storytellers, Vedder explained that the interpretation of the song had changed, as fans would react to the chorus by jumping around and celebrating: “They heard "I'm still alive" as a positive thing, an affirmation of life” said Vedder. "When they changed the meaning of those words, they lifted the curse”.

Be Your Own Story is a guide to being fully alive at work. That might mean lifting the curse by changing the meaning of the words.