JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Black

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I was talking with someone the other day about music, and how a song can immediately evoke powerful feelings from long ago. I hear Young MC’s Bust A Move and think back to bus trips with the high school cross country team. I hear Ween’s Push The Little Daisies and think of the college newspaper. So on and so on.

Sadly, no song impacts me with greater power than Pearl Jam’s Black.

This is not a good thing.

The year was 1993. I was a junior at the University of Delaware. Dan, Paul, Scott and I headed out to the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity house, where a friend of ours lived. The frat was known as the geekiest one on campus, and the house was befitting of that status: Dumpy, stinky, poor location and—just being honest here—not exactly the best-looking women around (That being said, we guys were hardly Grade-A). Before arriving at the house, my friends and I went pretty hard on the grape-flavored Mad•Dog 20/20, a vicious, nasty, strong genre of alcohol that could morph Superman into a stooped-over upchucker of lunch.

In other words, I was wasted.

The goal back then was to hook up, then re-tell the story the following morning. So I hooked up. Here’s what I remember: She had brown hair, brownish teeth, a black T-shirt … and a face coated with festering zits of all sizes. A pizza brought to life. Yet I didn’t care. I was drunk on Mad•Dog and looking for action. So we made out (to use my father’s old-school lingo) on the dance floor … Pearl Jam’s Black providing the soundtrack.

I’ve hated that song ever since.