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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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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

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That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

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This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

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4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

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5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

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8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

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Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy comping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

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14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

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15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

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16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

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17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

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18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

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