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Even Flow

"Even Flow"
Single by Pearl Jam
from the album Ten
B-side "Dirty Frank" / "Oceans" (remix)
Released April 6, 1992 (1992-04-06)
Format CD single, Cassette, Vinyl
Recorded March 27 – April 26, 1991 at London Bridge Studios, Seattle, Washington (Ten version)
January 1992 at London Bridge Studios, Seattle, Washington (video version)
Genre Grunge, hard rock
Length 4:54
Label Epic
Writer(s) Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard
Producer(s) Rick Parashar, Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam singles chronology
"Even Flow"
Ten track listing
(Track 1)
"Even Flow"
(Track 2)
(Track 3)
Audio sample

"Even Flow" is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam. Featuring lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by guitarist Stone Gossard, "Even Flow" was released in 1992 as the second single from the band's debut album, Ten (1991). The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song was included on Pearl Jam's 2004 greatest hits album, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003). A remixed version of the song was included on the 2009 Ten reissue.


  • Origin and recording 1
  • Composition and lyrics 2
  • Release and reception 3
  • Music video 4
    • Original video 4.1
    • Official video 4.2
  • Live performances 5
  • Track listing 6
  • Chart positions 7
  • Accolades 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Origin and recording

"Even Flow" features lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by guitarist Stone Gossard. Bassist Jeff Ament said, "I know it was a great song all along, and I felt that it was the best song that we got the worst take of on the first record. There were a hundred takes on that song, and we just never nailed it."[1] Drummer Dave Krusen said, "I was pretty green back then and 'Even Flow' suffered from too much fluctuation." He added that "it was really tough for me. I don't know why. Not sure why we didn't use that one from the demo as well, but I know it felt better."[2] Guitarist Mike McCready stated, "We did 'Even Flow' about 50, 70 times. I swear to God it was a nightmare. We played that thing over and over until we hated each other. I still don't think Stone is satisfied with how it came out."[3]

An alternate version of the song was recorded with drummer Dave Abbruzzese in 1992 while the band was recording songs for the soundtrack for the 1992 film, Singles.[4] This version was used for the music video,[5] and was used in single releases in the United Kingdom. This version can also be readily found on Pearl Jam's 2004 greatest hits album, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003).

Composition and lyrics

"Even Flow" was written in the key of D major, with Gossard performing his parts in open D tuning and McCready complementing it with a similar rhythm pattern in standard tuning.[6] The recorded version of the song actually sounds slightly sharper than D major, with everything tuned up — accidentally or otherwise — around one quarter of a step. The song features a funk guitar riff by Gossard.

McCready on the song:

That's me pretending to be Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a feeble attempt at that. Stone (Gossard, Pearl Jam guitarist) wrote the riff and song; I think it's a D tuning. I just followed him in a regular pattern. I tried to steal everything I know from Stevie Ray Vaughan and put it into that song. A blatant rip-off. A tribute rip-off, if you will![7]

The vocal line that appears in the main verse begins with a very prominent tritone interval.

The stark lyrics by Vedder for "Even Flow" describe the experience of being a homeless man.[8] The subject sleeps "on a pillow made of concrete" and panhandles passersby for spare change. In addition to being illiterate, he may also be mentally ill, as he "looks insane" when he smiles and struggles to keep coherent thoughts ("Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies/Oh, he don't know, so he chases them away").

At Pearl Jam's March 28, 1994 concert at the Bayfront Amphitheater in Miami, Florida, Vedder introduced the song by saying, "I thought I'd throw in a bit of street education while you still have an open mind....Right across the street there's a little homeless community that lives under the bridge. You should just know that those people ain't all crazy and sometimes it's not their fault. This song is called 'Even Flow'."[9]

Release and reception

While the "Even Flow" single was released commercially to international markets in 1992, the commercial single was not released in the United States until June 27, 1995 and was only available as a more expensive import version beforehand. The alternate studio recording of "Even Flow", which was recorded in 1992 with Abbruzzese, was released as a CD single and 12-inch white vinyl in the United Kingdom. The original version was used in single releases in the United States. The song was released as a single in 1992 with a previously unreleased funk[10] B-side titled "Dirty Frank", which can also be found as an extra track on European releases of Ten and as an alternate version on the compilation album, Lost Dogs (2003).

The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 21 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached the top 80 on the Canadian Singles Chart. "Even Flow" peaked at number 27 in the UK and number 22 on the Australian Singles Chart. It was a moderate top 20 success in New Zealand.

Chris True of Allmusic called "Even Flow" "the somewhat less ballady more swaggering follow up to the breakout single 'Alive'." True said that the song "doesn’t even really have an intro—it just starts and keeps going—and the band seems more in the groove than on the overly earnest 'Alive'." True said that the song "confirmed that Pearl Jam were more than just one hit grunge rock wonders."[11] The song was placed at number 77 on a list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time" by Rolling Stone.[12] It was also included on VH1's countdown of the "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs" at number 30.[13]

Music video

Original video

Pearl Jam originally hired director Rocky Schenck to film a music video for "Even Flow". On January 31, 1992, on their way to England to begin a European tour, the band members came to Los Angeles, California to film the video. The concept for the video was based on an idea by Gossard.[14] Schenck filmed Pearl Jam in a zoo setting. He had arranged a nighttime shoot at an old, closed facility, brought in different wildlife, and set up his lights among the cages and in the trees. Along with the animal footage, the members of Pearl Jam were filmed individually and as a band, standing on the side of a cliff and air jamming. The shoot took hours, and the band was not pleased with the end result. Schenck's shoot was considered a waste of time and money by the band; it also damaged Abbruzzese's wrists significantly. After shooting had finished, he was taken to the emergency room where he was advised not to put strain on his wrists. Abbruzzese would drum on the band's European tour with a splint attached to his hands.

Official video

The original music video for "Even Flow" was ultimately replaced by a performance clip directed by Josh Taft, who had previously directed the "Alive" music video for the band, and who would later direct the music video for "Oceans".[15] The video consists of performance footage of the band filmed during a January 17, 1992 show at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, Washington.[15] Taft was filming that night not in his capacity as a director, but as a friend of Gossard's. (At one point during the show, Vedder had even stopped the proceedings, clearly of the opinion that Taft's presence was intrusive. "This is not a TV studio, Josh" he'd yelled indignantly, in an interlude that Taft left in his final cut but that MTV clipped out of most versions it aired. "Turn those lights out, it's a fucking rock concert!") The video shows Vedder climbing the theatre, and then jumping down between fans at the concert and ending with Mccready throwing his guitar towards the camera.

The footage used in the video is actually spliced from different songs: for instance Gossard and McCready each play two different guitars, Vedder wears a hat at some point and the theatre climb actually occurred during "Porch".[16] Taft's presence at the Moore Theatre show, and the fact that he had filmed sufficient footage to compile into a music video, proved to be a break for the band. Otherwise with Epic ready to provide MTV with an "Even Flow" video and Schenck's version already completed, Pearl Jam would have had little choice but to go with it, and the band members unanimously despised Schenck's version when they saw the final edit. The alternate studio recording of "Even Flow", which was recorded in 1992 with Abbruzzese, was used for the video as the band felt it synched up well with the live footage.[4] The video was released in April 1992.[17]

Live performances

"Even Flow" was first performed live at the band's October 22, 1990 concert in Live at Lollapalooza 2007,[18] and the Drop in the Park LP included in the Super Deluxe edition of the Ten reissue. Performances of the song are also included on the DVDs Touring Band 2000,[20] Live at the Garden,[21] Immagine in Cornice,[22] and the MTV Unplugged DVD included in the Ten reissue. On Live at the Garden, McCready performs an improv within "Even Flow" that goes on for nearly five minutes.[21]

Track listing

CD (US, Australia, Austria, Brazil, and Germany) and Cassette (Australia)
  1. "Even Flow" (Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard) – 4:53
  2. "Dirty Frank" (Dave Abbruzzese, Jeff Ament, Gossard, Mike McCready, Vedder) – 5:32
  3. "Oceans" (remix) (Vedder, Gossard, Ament) – 2:46
CD (UK) and 12" Vinyl (UK)
  1. "Even Flow" (new version) (Vedder, Gossard) – 5:04
  2. "Dirty Frank" (Abbruzzese, Ament, Gossard, McCready, Vedder) – 5:32
  3. "Oceans" (Vedder, Gossard, Ament) – 2:42
7" Vinyl (UK) and Cassette (UK)
  1. "Even Flow" (new version) (Vedder, Gossard) – 5:04
  2. "Oceans" (remix) (Vedder, Gossard, Ament) – 2:46
7" Vinyl (The Netherlands) and Cassette (New Zealand)
  1. "Even Flow" (Vedder, Gossard) – 4:53
  2. "Dirty Frank" (Abbruzzese, Ament, Gossard, McCready, Vedder) – 5:32

Chart positions

Chart (1992) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[23] 22
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[24] 74
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[25] 20
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[26] 27
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[27] 3
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[27] 21
Chart (2009) Position
US Billboard Hot Digital Songs[27] 62


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Rolling Stone United States "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time"[12] 2008 77
VH1 United States "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"[13] 2008 30


  1. ^ Marsh, Dave. "Pearl Jam: Art and Economy". Musician. April 1998.
  2. ^ Brandolini, Chad. "Ten"Dave Krusen" Looking Back at Pearl Jam's .
  3. ^ Quinn, Bryan. "Q+A session with Pearl Jam". Daily Record. March 9, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Peiken, Matt (December 1993). "Dave Abbruzzese of Pearl Jam".  
  5. ^ "Pearl Jam — Even Flow".  
  6. ^ DiPerna, Alan. "Alternate Tunings Climb the Alternative Charts". Musician. July 1992.
  7. ^ Gilbert, Jeff. "Prime Cuts: Mike McCready - The Best of Pearl Jam!", Guitar School, May 1995.
  8. ^ Clay, Jennifer (December 1991). "Life After Love Bone".  
  9. ^ "Live Song Quotes". April 7, 2002.
  10. ^
  11. ^ True, Chris. "Even Flow > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved on May 16, 2008.
  12. ^ a b "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. June 12, 2008. Retrieved 2011-01-25. "While most Seattle guitarists descended from Black Flag and Sabbath, Stone Gossard and Mike McCready updated the Stones' arena blues for a darker age. Grumbling riffs, frenetic runs and evil-laugh wah-wah created what McCready later cracked was a 'tribute rip-off' to Stevie Ray Vaughan."
  13. ^ a b "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs". VH1.
  14. ^ Weisbard, Eric, et al. "Ten Past Ten". Spin. August 2001.
  15. ^ a b "Pearl Jam: Timeline". Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  16. ^ "Pearl Jam Concert Chronology: 1992".
  17. ^ "Pearl Jam music videos". Music Video Database. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  18. ^ a b "Even Flow". 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  19. ^ Bruns, Jean (2004). "1992 Concert Chronology part 2". Five Horizons. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  20. ^ "Touring Band 2000: Releases — DVDs". Retrieved 10 February 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Live At The Garden: Releases — DVDs". Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  22. ^ "Immagine In Cornice: Releases — DVDs". Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  23. ^ " – Pearl Jam – Even Flow". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  24. ^ "Top Singles — Volume 56, No. 1, April 07 1992".  
  25. ^ " – Pearl Jam – Even Flow". Top 40 Singles.
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  27. ^ a b c "Pearl Jam Artist Chart History".  

External links

  • Lyrics at
  • Review of "Even Flow" at Allmusic
  • "Even Flow" Official music video on YouTube
  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
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