Then there's "Given to Fly," a soaring, U2-esque anthem about a human blessed with the ability to fly. The man returns to Earth to share "the key to the locks on the chains he saw everywhere," but is greeted with violence. He continues to try to give away what he's learned.
Vedder imagined the song as a children's book, "a 20-page cardboard book with a line on each page and a picture to go with it. It's a fable, that's all. The music almost gives you this feeling of flight, and I really love singing the part at the end, which is about rising above anybody's comments about what you do and still giving your love away. You know -- not becoming bitter and reclusive, not condemning the whole world because of the actions of a few."
Which is, of course, exactly the kind of strategy Pearl Jam is employing this time around. Rather than fighting futile battles and standing on principle until the point is lost, it has chosen to yield, to move forward and offer something of value to what's left of its audience. It still wants to make a difference, but no longer needs to shout sanctimoniously from the rooftops. Its methods are more subtle, more humble. More grown-up.
Given To Fly, Eddie Vedder (lyrics)
He could have tuned in, tuned in
but he tuned out
A bad time, nothing could save him
Alone in a corridor, waiting, locked out
He got up outta there, ran for hundreds of miles
He made it to the ocean, had a smoke in a tree
The wind rose up, set him down on his knee
A wave came crashing like a fist to the jaw
Delivered him wings, 'Hey, look at me now'
Arms wide open with the sea as his floor
Oh, power, oh
He's... flying... whole
He floated back down 'cause he wanted to share
The key to the locks on the chains he saw everywhere
But first he was stripped and then he was stabbed
By faceless men, well, fuckers
He still stands
And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved
And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly