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Let’s Talk About Pearl Jam’s “Cover” of Frozen’s “Let It Go”: A Brief History of Their “Daughter” Tags

Pearl Jam is my band equivalent of a first love. I’ve moved on since then, but nothing will ever quite replace the special place they have in my heart.

And I’m probably just a hair too young to be saying that. I didn’t find my way to their music until well after their reign as Billboard and self-serious MTV champs had passed.  Remember when they released bootlegs of all 72 shows from their 2000 European/North American Tour in big box chain stores? That’s around the time I first became a fan, and I remember rushing to Best Buy to comb through every bootleg, positive I needed to get there early to beat the crowd.  Yeah, I was there for over 30 minutes, and not a single other person walked up to look at one of the bootlegs the entire time.

Of course, I’m supposed to be talking about “Let It Go,” not that sad Tuesday morning I spent at a Best Buy over a decade ago. In recent years, Pearl Jam has scored several cross-over hits with perfect-for-a-first-dance-at-a-wedding songs like “Just Breathe” and “Sirens, ” but today they’ve actually gone viral thanks to this:

Hold on. Any Pearl Jam fan worth their salt instantly recognizes that as simply a classic case of Eddie adding a couple of lines from some other song to the bridge of “Daughter.” He does that all that time.

Yes, but it’s a slow news day, and headlines like “Pearl James On on ‘Frozen’ Hit ‘Let It Go” (from HollywoodReporter) make for nice clickbait. Thank you, THR, Billboard, CinemaBlend, HitFlix, ScreenCrush, etc. For many, it’s likely a pleasant confirmation that even a rock star like Eddie Vedder has daughters (6- and 10-year-old daughters to be exact) who won’t stop listening to “Let It Go.” In this once instance, his problems are just like our’s. Yay for aging gracefully?

It’s hardly the craziest cover Pearl Jam has ever rolled out:

A couple of years ago at a Halloween night concert in Philadelphia they returned for one of their encores dressed up like Devo from their classically awful-awesome”Whip It” music video, and then they actually played “Whip It” all the way through, right down to Vedder cracking a whip on beat with the music.  A couple of years before that they did their version of Stevie Wonder’s “Someday At Christmas” for a fanclub-only Christmas single.  So, even though “Let It Go” is absolutely outside of Vedder’s current vocal range it actually wouldn’t be that shocking to see them take a stab at it, probably re-arranged and rock-ified.

Quick aside: Is “rock-ified” a word? Better question: would a rock star ask that question? No, he would not. So, let’s live like Vedder.

But those are examples of full-on covers. Not so much for “Let It Go,” tagged like so many before it to the  bridge of “Daughter.”  On Vs., the studio version of “Daughter” simply fades out at the end, but in concert it keeps going for a while, Eddie adding in lyrics from other songs or simply doing call-and-response chants with the crowd while the band keeps playing the trippy beat. They’ve been doing that almost as long as they’ve been playing the song live, with Eddie famously adding a couple of lines of “American Pie” to it during a 1994 Saturday Night Live rehearsal performance.  In fact, someone actually compiled together “Daughter” tags played in concert between 1993 and 1996, the most notable of which is a brief bit of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe.”

Prior to “Let It Go,” the most unexpected tag they ever added to “Daughter” was probably Madonna’s “Ray of Light,” which you can see at the 57-minute mark in the following bootleg video of the entire 1998 Chicago concert.  In fact, this is a double-dipper, as they segue into a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” after “Ray of Light”:

The most definitive tag probably comes from the 2000 tour, a tour which started in tragedy. 8 fans were trampled to death at a festival show, and the band was so shaken by the event they almost broke up. In their first show after the tragedy, Eddie used the “Daughter” tag to re-purpose the lyrics of the obscure Dead Moon song “It’s OK” to form a verbal contract with the crowd that not only was it okay for the band to keep going it was also incumbent on everyone to sing out and celebrate their continued survival while also remembering to look out for one another:

In fact, if you listen closely right before the video of last night’s performance of “Let It Go” cuts off the band was about to kick into a rendition of “It’s OK.”  To my ears, it almost sounds as if Eddie lost his nerve, fearful of the high notes awaiting him in “Let It Go” or perhaps simply unable to remember the rest of the words.  I like to think this all happened just because one if not both of Eddie’s daughters simply asked/dared him to sing a little bit of “Let It Go” at one of his shows.

So, there you have it, a brief history of Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” tags to help you better understand what to make of this so-called “cover” of “Let It Go.”  Yes, it is surreal seeing an Idina Menzel song coming out of Eddie Vedder’s mouth, however briefly, but come on, the dude’s got young daughters.  Not even the off-spring of Pearl Jam are immune to Frozen‘s charms.


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