On 8 January 1991 Jeremy Himself On The Class And Got Inspired For A Pearl Jam Song
The actor that played Jeremy died in a drowning accident off the coast of Puerto Rico in 2016, he was 36. The band went to his funeral.
Pearl Jam Jeremy
Label: Epic 658258 2
Format: CD, Single
Country: UK & Europe
Genre: Rock, Grunge
1 Jeremy (Single Version) 4:46 Mixed By Brendan O’Brien
2 Yellow Ledbetter 5:04 Mixed By Rakesh Parasher* Written-By McCready* Previously unavailable
3 Alive (Live) 4:55 Engineer Brett Elliason* Written-By Gossard*
Producer Pearl Jam (tracks: 1, 2), Rakesh Parasher* (tracks: 1, 2)
Written-By Vedder*, Ament* (tracks: 1, 2)
Picture disc CD with half cover sleeve.
Track 1: Special version adapted from the CD/MC/LP “Ten” – EPC 468884 2/4/1
Track 2: Previously unavailable.
Track 3: recorded live on 3.8.91 at RKCNDY, Seattle, WA.
All tracks Polygram Music Publishing Ltd. / Copyright Control
1, 3 1991, 2 1992 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
Original sound recording made by Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
© 1992 Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd.
Barcode: 5 099765 825824
Other (Label Code): LC 0199
Other (Rights Societies): MCPS/BIEM/STEMRA
“Jeremy” is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam, with lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by bassist Jeff Ament. “Jeremy” was released in 1992 as the third single from Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten (1991). The song was inspired by a newspaper article Vedder read about a high school student who shot himself in front of his English class on January 8, 1991. It reached the number five spot on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock Billboard charts. It did not originally chart on the regular Billboard Hot 100 singles chart since it was not released as a commercial single in the US at the time, but a re-release in July 1995 brought it up to number 79
The song gained notoriety for its music video, directed by Mark Pellington and released in 1992, which received heavy rotation by MTV and became a hit. The original music video for “Jeremy” was directed and produced by Chris Cuffaro. Epic Records and MTV later rejected the music video, and released the version directed by Pellington instead. In 1993, the “Jeremy” video was awarded four MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Video of the Year.
Origin and recording:
“Jeremy” features lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by bassist Jeff Ament. The song’s music was written before the band went out on tour in support of Alice in Chains in February 1991.
Ament on the song:
I already had two pieces of music that I wrote on acoustic guitar…with the idea that I would play them on a Hamer 12-string bass I had just ordered. When the bass arrived, one of [the pieces] became “Jeremy”….I had an idea for the outro when we were recording it the second time…I overdubbed a twelve-string bass, and we added a cello. That was big-time production, for us….Rick [Parashar]’s a supertalented engineer-musician…Stone [Gossard, Pearl Jam’s rhythm guitarist] was sick one day, and Ed, Rick and I conjured up the art piece that opens and closes the song. That was so fun—I wanted to make a whole record like that.
In another interview, Ament stated:
We knew it was a good song, but it was tough getting it to feel right—for the chorus to sit back and the outro to push over the top. The tune went from practically not making it on the record to being one of the best takes. I’m not sure if it’s the best song on the album but I think it’s the best take. On “Jeremy” I always heard this other melody in the choruses and the end, and it never sounded good on guitar or bass. So we brought in a cello player which inspired a background vocal, and those things made the song really happen. Most of the time if something doesn’t work right away, I just say fuck it—but this was an instance when perseverance paid off.
“Jeremy” is in the key of A, and intertwines the parallel modes of major and minor frequently. It features prominent usage of Ament’s 12-string Hamer bass guitar, which is pivotal to the sound of the introduction and end of the recording. The song starts off with the bassline and quiet harmonic notes also on the 12-string bass, and continues in a sedate vein until after the second chorus, when densely layered guitars and vocals gradually enter. At the end the instruments gradually fade out until all that is audible is a clean guitar and the 12-string bass, like the intro. Both instruments play a descending minor key melody, fading out with one single note.
“Jeremy” is based on two different true stories. The song takes its main inspiration from a newspaper article about a 16-year-old boy named Jeremy Wade Delle from Richardson, Texas who shot himself in front of his teacher and his second period English class of 30 students on the morning of January 8, 1991. In a 2009 interview, Vedder said that he felt “the need to take that small article and make something of it—to give that action, to give it reaction, to give it more importance.”
Delle was described by schoolmates as “real quiet” and known for “acting sad.” After coming into class late that morning, Delle was told to get an admittance slip from the school office. He left the classroom, and returned with a .357 Magnum revolver. Delle walked to the front of the classroom, announced “Miss, I got what I really went for”, put the barrel of the firearm in his mouth, and pulled the trigger before his teacher or classmates could react. Lisa Moore, a schoolmate, knew Jeremy from the in-school suspension program: “He and I would pass notes back and forth and he would talk about life and stuff,” she said. “He signed all of his notes, ‘Write back.’ But on Monday he wrote, ‘Later days.’ I didn’t know what to make of it. But I never thought this would happen.”
When asked about the song, Vedder explained:
It came from a small paragraph in a paper which means you kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you’re gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper. Sixty-four degrees and cloudy in a suburban neighborhood. That’s the beginning of the video and that’s the same thing in the end; it does nothing … nothing changes. The world goes on and you’re gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself. Be stronger than those people. And then you can come back.
The second story the song is based on, involved a student that Vedder knew from his junior high school in San Diego, California. He elaborated further in a 1991 interview:
I actually knew somebody in junior high school, in San Diego, California, that did the same thing, just about, didn’t take his life but ended up shooting up an oceanography room. I remember being in the halls and hearing it and I had actually had altercations with this kid in the past. I was kind of a rebellious fifth-grader and I think we got in fights and stuff. So it’s a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it’s also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew and I don’t know…the song, I think it says a lot. I think it goes somewhere…and a lot of people interpret it different ways and it’s just been recently that I’ve been talking about the true meaning behind it and I hope no one’s offended and believe me, I think of Jeremy when I sing it.
Release and reception:
While the “Jeremy” 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. “Jeremy” was released as a single in 1992 with the previously unreleased B-sides “Footsteps” and “Yellow Ledbetter”, both of which can also be found on the compilation album, Lost Dogs (2003), the former as an alternate version, and the latter of which can also be found on the band’s greatest hits compilation, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003). “Jeremy” became the most successful song from Ten on the American rock charts. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts. The “Jeremy” single has been certified gold by the RIAA. At the 1993 Grammy Awards, “Jeremy” received nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Hard Rock Performance.
Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached the top 40 on the Canadian Singles Chart. “Jeremy” reached the UK Top 20. It peaked at number 93 in Germany, reached the top 40 in New Zealand, and was a top ten success in Ireland.
Chris True of Allmusic said that “Jeremy” “is where Pearl Jam mania galvanized and propelled the band past the ‘Seattle sound’ and into rock royalty.” He described it as a “classic buildup tune” and proclaimed it as “arguably Pearl Jam’s most earnest work and one of their most successful singles.” Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork Media said, “‘Jeremy’ is for the most part Freudian psychodrama on an album full of them.”
In July 1991, Vedder became acquainted with photographer Chris Cuffaro. Vedder suggested Cuffaro film a music video for the band. On Vedder’s insistence, Epic gave Cuffaro permission to use any song off Ten. He chose “Jeremy”, which was not intended to be released as a single at the time. Epic refused to fund the clip, forcing Cuffaro to finance it himself.
Cuffaro raised the money by taking out a loan and selling all of his furniture and half his guitar collection. He first filmed several scenes of a young actor, Eric Schubert, playing the part of Jeremy. Cuffaro and his crew spent a day filming Schubert playing the part of Jeremy. The scenes with Pearl Jam were filmed in a warehouse on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California on October 4, 1991. A revolving platform was rigged at the center of the set, and the members of the band climbed on it individually to give the illusion of the song being performed as a crew member spun the giant turntable by hand. Vedder appeared with black gaffer’s tape around his biceps as a mourning band for the real Jeremy.
By the time Cuffaro finished his music video, Epic had warmed up to the idea of releasing “Jeremy” as a single. Music video director Mark Pellington was brought in to handle the project. Pellington said that he “wasn’t a huge fan of the band, but the lyrics intrigued me—I spoke to Eddie, and I really got connected to his passion.” Pellington and Pearl Jam convened in Kings Cross, London, England in June 1992 to film a new version of the “Jeremy” music video
Working with veteran editor Bruce Ashley, Pellington’s high-budget video incorporated rapid-fire editing and juxtaposition of sound, still images, graphics and text elements with live action sequences to create a collage effect. Actor Trevor Wilson portrayed Jeremy. Wilson filmed his classroom scenes as Jeremy at Bayonne High School in New Jersey. The video also featured many close-ups of Vedder performing the song, with the other members of Pearl Jam shown only briefly. Some of the stock imagery was similar to the original video, but when it came to the band Pellington focused on Vedder. Vedder thus serves as the video’s narrator. Ament said, “It was mostly Mark and Ed’s vision. In fact, I think it would have been a better video if the rest of the band wasn’t in it. I know some of us were having a hard time with the movie-type video that Mark made, because our two previous videos were made live.” Sadly, Wilson died in 2016 at age 36 in a drowning accident in Puerto Rico .
The video premiered on August 1, 1992, and quickly found its way into heavy rotation on MTV. Michele Romero of Entertainment Weekly described the music video as “an Afterschool Special from hell.” She stated that “when Eddie Vedder yowls the lyric ‘Jeremy spoke in class today,’ a chill frosts your cranium to the point of queasy enjoyment.” The success of the “Jeremy” video helped catapult Pearl Jam to fame. Pellington stated, “I think that video tapped into something that has always been around and will always be around. You’re always going to have peer pressure, you’re always going to have adolescent rage, you’re always going to have dysfunctional families.” The video won four MTV Video Music Awards in 1993, including Best Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Metal/Hard Rock Video, and Best Direction. Trevor Wilson appeared with Pearl Jam onstage when they won ‘Best Video Of The Year.’ Vedder introduced him to the crowd: “This is Trevor. He lives.”