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10 Deep Facts About Pearl Jam's Ten

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Ten, Pearl Jam's debut studio album, was released on August 27, 1991—at the tail end of the summer before the term "grunge" would enter the popular lexicon. It would take a couple of hit singles and over a year for Ten to reach number two on the Billboard chart, but it did, and eventually sold more than 10 million copies.

The album was a collaboration between former Mother Love Bone guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament who, after the tragic death of their singer, Andrew Wood, regrouped and started playing again—this time with guitarist Mike McCready and eventually drummer Dave Krusen. Vocalist Eddie Vedder famously heard instrumental demos of what would become worldwide hits and came up with the famous lyrics while riding some San Diego waves. To celebrate Ten's 25th anniversary, here are some facts about one of the best-selling rock albums of all-time.

1. "ALIVE" IS PART OF A TRILOGY.

In September 1990, while working the graveyard shift at a Chevron tank farm in San Diego, former Bad Radio frontman Eddie Vedder heard the instrumental demos made by Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, and drummer Matt Cameron for the first time (he got the tape from former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons). “When you haven’t slept for days, you get so sensitive that it feels like every nerve is directly exposed," Vedder later explained. "I went surfing in that sleep-deprived state and totally started dealing with a few things that I hadn’t dealt with. I was really getting focused on this one thing, and I had this music in my mind at the same time. I was literally writing some of these words as I was going up against a wave.”

Vedder raced back to his apartment and taped himself singing over three of the songs. It was a "mini opera" he titled Mamasan featuring "Alive," "Once," and "Footsteps."

In 1993, Vedder told Cameron Crowe what "Alive" was about for him:

"The story of the song is that a mother is with a father, and the father dies. It's an intense thing because the son looks just like the father. The son grows up to be the father, the person that she lost. His father's dead, and now this confusion, his mother, his love, how does he love her, how does she love him? In fact, the mother, even though she marries somebody else, there's no one she's ever loved more than the father. You know how it is, first loves and stuff. And the guy dies. How could you ever get him back? But the son. He looks exactly like him. It's uncanny. So she wants him. The son is oblivious to it all. He doesn't know what the fu*k is going on. He's still dealing, he's still growing up. He's still dealing with love, he's still dealing with the death of his father. All he knows is 'I'm still alive'—those three words, that's totally out of burden."

Vedder would go on to say that in the opening track "Once," the son in "Alive" becomes a serial killer. "Footsteps," which would eventually be a "Jeremy" B side in the United Kingdom, is when he gets executed.

2. "EVEN FLOW" PROVED PROBLEMATIC IN THE STUDIO.

The band began recording Ten with producer Rick Parashar on March 11, 1991 at Seattle's London Bridge Studios, and completed the album within a month. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the musicians. "Even Flow," in particular, proved to be a tough song to record.

"I don't know why," Dave Krusen said. "Not sure why we didn't use that one from the demo as well, but I know it felt better." McCready estimated that they recorded the song 50 to 70 times. "I swear to God it was a nightmare," he said. "We played that thing over and over until we hated each other."

3. "JEREMY" WAS BASED ON TWO DIFFERENT REAL-LIFE EVENTS.

Vedder wrote "Jeremy" the night that 16-year-old Jeremy Wade Delle fatally shot himself in front of his classmates in Richardson, Texas. In addition to that incident, he also had an old junior high school classmate who shot up an oceanography room in mind. "So it's a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it's also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew," Vedder said.

4. MCCREADY BELIEVES HE RIPPED OFF DIFFERENT MUSICIANS.

Stone Gossard wrote the lead riff for "Even Flow," but McCready was tasked with playing it. “That’s me pretending to be Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a feeble attempt at that,” McCready admitted. “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!” He said pretty much the same thing about "Black." For "Alive," McCready said, "I copied Ace Frehley's solo from 'She,' which was copied from Robby Krieger's solo in The Doors's 'Five To One.'"

5. THE BAND REFUSED TO MAKE A VIDEO FOR "BLACK."

Vedder successfully protested against Epic Records' insistence that "Black" should get a music video. As bassist Jeff Ament told Rolling Stone, Mark Eitzel—lead singer of the San Francisco-based band American Music Club—told Ament he thought the "Jeremy" video "sucked" because it ruined his vision of the song. Ament admitted that the comment stung, and he told Vedder that, "Ten years from now, I don't want people to remember our songs as videos."

6. A FIRE EXTINGUISHER AND A PEPPER SHAKER WERE USED AS INSTRUMENTS ON ONE OF THE SONGS.

The album was mixed with Tim Palmer on a converted farm in Dorking, England. "You have to try very hard to find other human beings, but there are plenty of sheep," Palmer said of the studio's location. Palmer was credited as playing percussion on "Oceans" with a pepper mill as a shaker and drum sticks on a fire extinguisher "as a sort of bell effect."

"At about 30 seconds into the song, you can hear the pepper shaker on the left and the fire extinguisher on the right," he told Guitar World. "It is all fairly subtle stuff, really. The reason I used those items was purely because we were so far from a music rental shop and necessity became ‘the mother of invention.’”

7. JEFF AMENT ALMOST QUIT THE BAND OVER A SONG THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE ALBUM.

"Brother" was a song that was in consideration for Ten at the rough mix stage. But at some point, according to McCready, Gossard became indifferent toward the tune. Ament was "really pissed," and wanted the song to make the final cut. "I recall the big argument between the two," McCready said. "Jeff said it was almost like he was going to quit. It was serious sh*t."

Ament got his redemption nearly 20 years later. "Brother" was released on the 2009 album reissue and reached the top 10 on the modern and mainstream rock charts.

8. THE ALBUM'S TITLE WAS BASED ON THEIR ORIGINAL BAND NAME.

Up until they were recording the album at London Bridge Studios, Pearl Jam was known as Mookie Blaylock, as in the professional basketball player. Since calling themselves Mookie Blaylock would have possibly led to legal problems, they decided to just pay tribute to the point guard by calling their debut album Ten, his jersey number.

9. THE DRUMMER LEFT THE GROUP AFTER RECORDING THE ALBUM.

Once recording on Ten was complete, Dave Krusen left and checked into rehab. "They had to let me go. I couldn't stop drinking, and it was causing problems," Krusen said. "They gave me many chances, but I couldn't get it together."

Matt Chamberlain toured with Pearl Jam over the summer of 1991 and filmed the "Alive" video with them before leaving to join G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live band. Dave Abbruzzese then came in to play behind the drumkit for the next few years.

10. MOST OF THE BAND DOESN'T LIKE HOW THE ALBUM SOUNDS.

"I'd love to remix Ten," Ament told Spin in 2001. "Ed, for sure, would agree with me. Three, four years ago, I picked out a cassette, and it had the rough mixes of 'Garden' and 'Once,' and it sounded great. It wouldn't be like changing performances; just pull some of the reverb off it."

In 2009, Ament said that—unlike their other albums—Ten had a "little bit more of an '80s production." When Gossard was promoting the 2009 reissue of the album, featuring a remix of the original songs, he said that, "I think Ten's still good, but I don't put it on."

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The Origins of 5 International Food Staples

Food is more than fuel. Cuisine and culture are so thoroughly intertwined that many people automatically equate tomatoes with Italy and potatoes with Ireland. Yet a thousand years ago those dietary staples were unheard of in Europe. How did they get to be so ubiquitous there—and beyond?

1. TOMATOES

For years, the wonderful fruit that’s now synonymous with Italy was mostly ignored there. Native to South America and likely cultivated in Central America, tomatoes were introduced to Italy by Spanish explorers during the 1500s. Shortly thereafter, widespread misconceptions about the newcomers took root. In part due to their watery complexion, it was inaccurately thought that eating tomatoes could cause severe digestive problems. Before the 18th century, the plants were mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes. Tomato-based sauce recipes wouldn’t start appearing in present-day Italy until 1692 (although even those recipes were more like a salsa or relish than a sauce). Over the next 150 years, tomato products slowly spread throughout the peninsula, thanks in no small part to the agreeable Mediterranean climate. By 1773, some cooks had taken to stuffing tomatoes with rice or veal. In Naples, the fruits were sometimes chopped up and placed onto flatbread—the beginnings of modern pizza. But what turned the humble tomato into a national icon was the canning industry. Within Italy’s borders, this business took off in a big way during the mid-to-late 19th century. Because tomatoes do well stored inside metal containers, canning companies dramatically drove up the demand. The popularity of canned tomatoes was later solidified by immigrants who came to the United States from Italy during the early 20th century: Longing for Mediterranean ingredients, transplanted families created a huge market for Italian-grown tomatoes in the US.

2. CURRY

Bowl of chicken curry with a spoon in it

An international favorite, curry is beloved in both India and the British Isles, not to mention the United States. And it turns out humans may have been enjoying the stuff for a very, very long time. The word “curry” was coined by European colonists and is something of an umbrella term. In Tamil, a language primarily found in India and Sri Lanka, “kari” means “sauce.” When Europeans started traveling to India, the term was eventually modified into “curry,” which came to designate any number of spicy foods with South or Southeast Asian origins. Nonetheless, a great number of curry dishes share two popular components: turmeric and ginger. In 2012, traces of both were discovered inside residue caked onto pots and human teeth at a 4500-year-old archaeological site in northern India. And where there’s curry, there’s usually garlic: A carbonized clove of this plant was also spotted nearby. “We don’t know they were putting all of them together in a dish, but we know that they were eating them at least individually,” Steve Weber, one of the archaeologists who helped make this astonishing find, told The Columbian. He and his colleagues have tentatively described their discovery as "proto-curry."

3. THE BAGUETTE

Several baguettes

A quintessential Gallic food, baguettes are adored throughout France, where residents gobble up an estimated 10 billion every year. The name of the iconic bread ultimately comes from the Latin word for stick, baculum, and references its long, slender form. How the baguette got that signature shape is a mystery. One popular yarn credits Napoleon Bonaparte: Supposedly, the military leader asked French bakers to devise a new type of skinny bread loaf that could be comfortably tucked into his soldiers’ pockets. Another origin story involves the Paris metro, built in the 19th century by a team of around 3500 workers who were apparently sometimes prone to violence during meal times. It’s been theorized that the metro foremen tried to de-escalate the situation by introducing bread that could be broken into pieces by hand—thereby eliminating the need for laborers to carry knives. Alas, neither story is supported by much in the way of historical evidence. Still, it’s clear that lengthy bread is nothing new in France: Six-foot loaves were a common sight in the mid-1800s. The baguette as we know it today, however, didn’t spring into existence until the early 20th century. The modern loaf is noted for its crispy golden crust and white, puffy center—both traits made possible by the advent of steam-based ovens, which first arrived on France’s culinary scene in the 1920s.

4. POTATOES

Bowl of red, white, and black potatoes on wooden table

Historical records show that potatoes reached Ireland by the year 1600. Nobody knows who first introduced them; the list of potential candidates includes everyone from Sir Walter Raleigh to the Spanish Armada. Regardless, Ireland turned out to be a perfect habitat for the tubers, which hail from the misty slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. Half a world away, Ireland’s rich soils and rainy climate provided similar conditions—and potatoes thrived there. They also became indispensable. For millennia, the Irish diet had mainly consisted of dairy products, pig meats, and grains, none of which were easy for poor farmers to raise. Potatoes, on the other hand, were inexpensive, easy to grow, required fairly little space, and yielded an abundance of filling carbs. Soon enough, the average Irish peasant was subsisting almost entirely on potatoes, and the magical plant is credited with almost single-handedly triggering an Irish population boom. In 1590, only around 1 million people lived on the island; by 1840, that number had skyrocketed to 8.2 million. Unfortunately, this near-total reliance on potatoes would have dire consequences for the Irish people. In 1845, a disease caused by fungus-like organisms killed off somewhere between one-third and one-half of the country’s potatoes. Roughly a million people died as a result, and almost twice as many left Ireland in a desperate mass exodus. Yet potatoes remained a cornerstone of the Irish diet after the famine ended; in 1899, one magazine reported that citizens were eating an average of four pounds’ worth of them every day. Expatriates also brought their love of potatoes with them to other countries, including the U.S. But by then, the Yanks had already developed a taste for the crop: The oldest record of a permanent potato patch on American soil dates back to 1719. That year, a group of farmers—most likely Scots-Irish immigrants—planted one in the vicinity of modern-day Derry, New Hampshire. From these humble origins, the potato steadily rose in popularity, and by 1796, American cookbooks were praising its “universal use, profit, and easy acquirement.”

5. CORN

Corn growing in a field

In the 1930s, geneticist George W. Beadle exposed a vital clue about how corn—also known as maize—came into existence. A future Nobel Prize winner, Beadle demonstrated that the chromosomes found in everyday corn bear a striking resemblance to those of a Mexican grass called teosinte. At first glance, teosinte may not look very corn-like. Although it does have kernels, these are few in number and encased in tough shells that can easily chip a human tooth. Nonetheless, years of work allowed Beadle to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that corn was descended from teosinte. Today, genetic and archaeological data suggests that humans began the slow process of converting this grass into corn around 8700 years ago in southwestern Mexico. If you're wondering why early farmers showed any interest in cultivating teosinte to begin with, while the plant is fairly unappetizing in its natural state, it does have a few key attributes. One of these is the ability to produce popcorn: If held over an open fire, the kernels will “pop” just as our favorite movie theater treat does today. It might have been this very quality that inspired ancient horticulturalists to tinker around with teosinte—and eventually turn it into corn

BONUS: TEA

Person sitting cross-legged holding a cup of green tea

The United Kingdom’s ongoing love affair with this hot drink began somewhat recently. Tea—which is probably of Chinese origin—didn’t appear in Britain until the 1600s. Initially, the beverage was seen as an exotic curiosity with possible health benefits. Shipping costs and tariffs put a hefty price tag on tea, rendering it quite inaccessible to the lower classes. Even within England’s most affluent circles, tea didn’t really catch on until King Charles II married Princess Catherine of Braganza. By the time they tied the knot in 1662, tea-drinking was an established pastime among the elite in her native Portugal. Once Catherine was crowned Queen, tea became all the rage in her husband’s royal court. From there, its popularity slowly grew over several centuries and eventually transcended socioeconomic class. At present, the average Brit drinks an estimated three and a half cups of tea every day.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
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Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for more than 40 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guardaldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother, Linus, however, is still a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGG.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of whatever holiday they’re celebrating. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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