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Vedder’s Staley tribute not ‘Lost’

Song about Alice In Chains singer on Pearl Jam’s new disc
/ Source: Billboard

A song Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder wrote about Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley on the day of his death will be released on “Lost Dogs,” the group’s upcoming double-disc rarities collection.

The track, dubbed “4/20/02,” is not listed on the album but can be found several minutes after “Bee Girl,” the last song on the set’s second disc. “Lost Dogs” was released Nov. 11 by Epic, the same day as the concert DVD “Live at the Garden.”

“It was a real personal song Vedder wrote the night we all found out Staley died,” Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard told last year. “He stayed in there, didn’t work on anything else, and worked this song up.” Added guitarist Mike McCready, “he wrote it in the ukulele tuning, so it had this weird vibe to it, and it was sad.”

In the song, Vedder lashes out at the singers of unnamed bands copying the style of Staley, who died after battling drug addiction for years. “So sing just like him, fers,” Vedder sings. “It won’t offend him / just me / because he’s dead.” The cut features only Vedder on vocals and guitar.

Because of its pointed lyrics and highly personal content, the track was ruled out for potential inclusion on Pearl Jam’s 2002 album “Riot Act,” according to Gossard. “The record overall has such a universal feel to it, much more so than some of our other records,” he said. “Most of the songs are about bigger kinds of things. There was something about the song that felt like it maybe wasn’t right for this particular record.”

The rest of “Lost Dogs” is packed with surprises, such as alternate versions of the previously released B-sides and outtakes “Alone,” “Wash” and “Hard To Imagine.” Bassist Jeff Ament makes his Pearl Jam singing debut on “Sweet Lew,” a nostalgic look back at NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while Gossard takes the mic for the rocking “Don’t Gimme No Lip.”

In other news, Pearl Jam has pacted with Apple’s iTunes Music Store to offer paid downloads directly from its official Web site. The initiative was fostered by Apple’s new software iTunes Link Maker, which allows site operators to generate direct links to the iTunes store.