Even Flow

Album: Ten (1991)
Charted: 27
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  • The band had the music for this song before Eddie Vedder joined. The first instrumental demo was recorded in August 1990 with Michael McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron (Cameron was with Soundgarden at the time, but agreed to play on this demo). Vedder joined the band in October and wrote the lyrics about a homeless person who is neglected by society. "Even Flow" was one of 10 songs they recorded the first week he flew in to Seattle to record with his new band.
  • An alternate version was released as a UK single and is different than the album version. Eddie Vedder yells "Ha!" to start the song, and at the end, says, "I died, I died and you just stood there. I died and you watched me. I died and you walked by and said, 'No, I'm dead.'" This version is often the one played by US radio stations. It was also the one used for the video.
  • Pearl Jam used to be known as Mookie Blaylock, named after a very good, but not-so-famous basketball player. Blaylock was a star at the University of Oklahoma and in his second season with the New Jersey Nets when the band used his name after coming across his trading card. They named this album Ten because that was his number. Blaylock played 13 seasons in the NBA, making the All-Star team in 1994 and the All-Defensive team twice.
  • Drummer Matt Cameron told The Line Of Best Fit that this is his favorite track on Ten. He explained: "When I was in Soundgarden and we were making Badmotorfinger, Eddie brought up the mixes to Ten and I distinctly remember hearing the chorus for "Even Flow" and thinking that's HUGE. So hooky, it's got a really rad Zeppelin huge rock feel to it. Although we've played it a couple of thousand times since I've been in the group I think that's the quintessential Pearl Jam song. Even though it gets played out, the nuts and bolts of that song are just amazing. Oceans is also a fantastic song. Super fun to play."
  • Ten was Pearl Jam's first album. They were very efficient in the studio, getting most songs done in just a few takes, but "Even Flow" was an exception, requiring at least 50 takes. Pearl Jam was a band with itinerant drummers, and Dave Krusen, who was their stickman at the time, had a hard time with this track. Said Krusen: "They had to edit the middle because I was speeding up at the end. It was just a nightmare."
  • Pearl Jam first performed this live at the band's October 22, 1990 Seattle concert at the Off Ramp Café. It has gone on to become the band's most performed live song,
  • Stone Gossard told Uncut magazine that when Pearl Jam played this at an early gig, Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil said that he loved the song, which he mistakenly thought was titled "Evening Flow." He thought it was "about how the evening just sort of flows along when everybody's having a good time." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
  • Mike McCready told Guitar World he was emulating the late Stevie Ray Vaughan with his guitar solo on this track, which the magazine named the #6 greatest wah solo of all time on its 2015 list.

Comments: 50

  • Hiram from CarolinaObviously, the song's title is an irony; the song lyrics written on a one dollar bill.
  • Dewayne from EnglandKiller guitar solo courtesy of Mr Mike McCready, dude has some serious chops.
  • Josh from UsaIf you listen carefully at about 3:21 on good headphones, you can hear Eddie speaking beneath the music, "Have you got a dollar? Maybe some spare change? God bless you..."
  • Amea from Linköping, SwedenHow is this not about a homeless man? It's so obvious.
    The first line alone should be enough, but these make it pretty obvious IMO:

    "Freezin', rests his head on a pillow made of concrete, again"
    "Oh, hand out, faces that he sees time again ain't that familiar, oh yeah"
    "Oh, feelin', understands the weather of the winters on it's way."
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjMike McCready claims to have been influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan for the guitar leads in this song.
  • Molly from Niagara Falls, NyI'm going with autistic - "he can't help when he's happy looks insane", "thoughts arrive like butterflies / he don't know / so he chases them away" - very much sound like someone with autism.
  • Curtis from Urbana, Ilit about a derelict thats it stop overthinking people
  • Tom from The Hague, NetherlandsSome say that Ed Ved used to hang around with a near homeless man whose name was Steven Bow.. they might have changed the lyrics to make it sound better
  • Jake from Aberdeen, Wain my opinion this song is about a mentally retarted person. with the lyrics like "he can't help, when he's happy looks insane" and "Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies
    Oh, he don't know, so he chases them away" even flow means hes always happy and just goes with the flow, thoughts arive like butterflys means he has thoughts but chases them away which kind of hints hes retarted
  • Billy from Clarion, PaI always got the impression that this was a song about a man in prison being or about to be led to the death chamber. If you think about it it kinda makes sence. The thoughts that arive like butterflies are the memories of his life on the outside. He knows he might never expierience them again so he trys to chase them away. The wispering hands that lead him away are the guards taking him to his death. He knows the aren't openly critisizing him but he feels that they are inside their heads and is imagining them doing so. Hence the wispering. The belief that be may someday live his life again is his belief in a last minute pardon although he knows his chances are slim because he knows he is insane. The thing that makes me feel this way the most is that he cries for his mom at the end. Most people when they die of freezing to death as is interpreted through the homeless person idea don't have the knowledge of their death to cry for their mothers. That would be somethin a person about to be executed would do. Other parts of the song fit my theory too but those are my main points. I may be wrong but it doesn't really matter songs are meant to be enjoyed and interpreted however the listener wants to. Debates like this over the meaning of a song are just testaments to the greatness of the lyrics and a big thank you to the songwriter
  • Juan from Orlando, Flthe even flow is not of money, but of all the crazy thoughts in the homeless man's mind
  • Joe from Tecumseh, OkOne of the best songs by Pearl Jam. You can really jam to it, I do.
  • Thiago from Ottawa, OnWhat does "Even Flow" mean?????
    - Nick, Arlington Heights, IL

    If you look inside the album cover, you'll see that parts of the song are writen on an image of the American dollar. Making the connection between money and the homeless, one might argues it's talking about the "Even Flow" of cash, and how the same of such a phrase is contradicting or in a way sarcastic. Anyways, this is the very first song I ever heard from PJ, and it made me buy the album... I'm thankful I did. Rock on People...
  • Adam from Yarmouth, MeWhy would they make two different versions?
  • Joseph from Okc, OkThe drummer in this song rocks it hard core!!
  • William from Bristol, VaThis song made me like grunge. i love this song.
  • Tony from Toledo, OhAfter I officially became mentally disabled due to my nervous breakdown in grad school, I used ot identify with the character in this song. Obviously, my personal ife had been sabotaged and destroyed by enemies. Later, when I saw the lyrics, I see that is about a mentally disabled homeless man. And I am not homeless. But that is cool that Pearl Jam shows concern for the poor and homeless in America! I was like a man who fell and could not get up; and my enemies then still make it worse for me to get back on my feet!
  • Justin from Neoga, IlAccording to pearljam.com, this is their most played song live, with 608 performances.
  • Buddy from Nunavuk, Canada"What does "Even Flow" mean?????"
    - Nick, Arlington Heights, IL

    Dude, "Even Flow" is a brand of baby bottles. So, what is Vedder "really" singing about ?
  • Robert from Madtown, WiIt was this song thatt convinced me that STP really did rip off other artists. Even though I love STP you gotta admit that when Eddie sings the word Freezing in the beginning, it is like the same notes as the word Feeling in the chorus of Plush by STP. I might get some critizism for saying that, but it doesn't matter, it is my opinion. STP stills rocks, even though pearl Jam rocks better.
    - Elliot, St. Louis, MO

    Maybe your info would be considered credible if the word "feelings" was indeed in the chorus of Plush, which it is not. I know what you are trying to say, but to say an artist is ripping off another artist because they hit the same vocal note is absurd. This has happened countless amounts of times in the history of music. If you could give more than one instance, or even one, maybe I'd consider your opinion. Until then you are ignorant in my mind. Oh, and I am both an STP and Pearl Jam fan, so keep that in mind if you choose to respond.
  • Sippe from Saskatoon, CanadaHey what the hell? I was convinced all these years that Once Alive and Evenflow were all about the same dude. He gets raped by his Mom after his Dad dies and he goes nuts (and apparently kills people and gets executed [Footsteps]).
    I thought for sure this was that same guy's journey into insanity.
  • Jeffrey from Dowagiac, MiPearl Jam has never written a song about Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Jeffrey from Dowagiac, MiThe album "Ten" was titled as such because originally the album was to be released with only 10 songs. They later decided to add another song to the album, but liked the title so they kept it.
  • Ujwal from Delhi, Indiawell...people say that even flow is about a homeless person, but i dont think so...it is about a guy who has no enthusiasm in his life, nothing to keep him going, and hence the title "Even Flow"...his life is flowing evenly....these are not the best days of his life...and he feels guilty and ashamed for living such a life...he thinks about possibilities, but he does not have faith in his own possibilities, his own views, his own thoughts..so he chases them away...but there is a ray of hope...Vedder says "May he live his life afresh...and may god gently lead him and show him the way" Amazing song...
  • Michelle from Sydney, AustraliaI'm a mum and taking my 14 y.o. son & his mate to their first real live rock concert - seeing the "Jam" in Sydney 8 Nov 06. I reckon they're going to love it - I love their stuff. Fantastic!
  • Matúš from Trnava, EuropeI meant my modest review to "Alive" actually, no to "EvenFlow". However, this song is fantastic too.
  • Ben from Nyc, MsI was surprised, I never liked grunge, like nirvana or AIC, but i heard the riff to "Alive" and I was like Holy S***! this is sweet!
  • Matúš from Trnava, EuropeThe last 2 minutes - my most beloved guitar solo at all. Mike McCready's play makes me fascinated.
  • Eric from Vancouver, CanadaTen was actually released in 1991
  • Bob from Olympia, Wai know it sounds weird, but i cant help but think this song is semi-autobiographical. i know the lyrics dont really support it, but when he says "dark grin, he can?t help, when he?s happy looks insane," i cant help but think of eddie vedder and his devilish grin. also "thoughts arrive like butterflies" sounds like something one would write about themselves rather than another. I know its really about the homeless dude or whatever.
  • Laurie from Stony Point, Nyan uneducated homeless man dies. its very bluntly stated in the song
  • Frank from San Antonio, Txevenflow is about how one thing balances another. thoughts arrive and he chases them away. nothing changes;EVEN. i think EVENFLOW is about money, and its changing(whispering)hands. i think the boy in the song is hopeless, and stupid. like a caveman. his passion is primal, this makes him immortal.
  • Elliot from St. Louis, MoIt was this song thatt convinced me that STP really did rip off other artists. Even though I love STP you gotta admit that when Eddie sings the word Freezing in the beginning, it is like the same notes as the word Feeling in the chorus of Plush by STP. I might get some critizism for saying that, but it doesn't matter, it is my opinion. STP stills rocks, even though pearl Jam rocks better.
  • E from Vancouver, Canadabetter than any nirvana song.
  • Andrew from St. Louis, MoLove this song. The song that got me into Pearl Jam. I am now a huge fan.

    The Chorus line :" Even Flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies, oh, he don't know, so he chases them away," reminds me somewhat of the symptoms of an Autistic person. Their peripheral registers do not work, so many more bits of information enter their brains than the normal human being. Just a thought =)
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaJust a guess...I think even flow might mean like things should be equal in the world, rather than such poor people (like the one talked about in the song) being so different from wealthy people.
  • Nick from Arlington Heights, IlWhat does "Even Flow" mean?????
  • Andrew from St. Louis, MoThe alternate version released in the UK was also put on disc one of their greatest hits compilation, Rearviewmirror.
  • Drew from Kansas City, MoI love how the censors find Eddie's voice so slurred and drunken that they don't bother to censor the line "F--k it up".
  • Frank from The City, EnglandWhat a song!! :^)
  • Glenn from Kingston, NhThis song is undoubtedly about a homeless person, "Ceilings few and far between, all the legal halls of shame." - clearly refering to homeless man who visits the local mission shelter. By the way, Dirty Frank was written to mock the Red Hot Chilli Peppers fast paced funk-rock style, and the band performed it live while touring with the Peppers. Eddie Vedder hates the song Dirty Frank now, and when fans chanted "Dirty Frank, Dirty Frank!" during the Penn State show last year, Vedder retorted, "That's disgusting."
  • Maple Jar from Any Town , WaOne more note, Pearl Jam didn't ever play the Georgia Theatre. They played Legion Field at UGA 4/16/92. About the song, I often felt is was about a homless person as well.
  • Maple Jar from Any Town , Wa"The video was shot in The Georgia Theater in Athens while I was in college - great venue. I missed the video shoot by a day, but a friend of mine is one of the stage-divers in the video."
    - Adam, Jupiter, FL

    Wrong, the video was shot at Seattle's Moore Theater January 17, 1992. It says it on their official website.
  • Evan from Orlando, FlDid you hear that? That's the sound of little people coming to overthrow the world.
  • Adam from Jupiter, FlThe video was shot in The Georgia Theater in Athens while I was in college - great venue. I missed the video shoot by a day, but a friend of mine is one of the stage-divers in the video.
  • B from Washington, DcIts about the homeless..Dirty Frank is not Jeffrey Dahmer(ridiculous) Frank was a tour bus driver for them, read your Lost Dogs booklet!!!
  • Ken from Jamestown, CaI can tell Eddie Vedder is all about his fans. Like on this video, he trusts his fans to catch him as he falls of a ledge.
  • Kyleigha from Rochester, NyIt was Pearl Jam's oddball tune "DIRTY FRANK" that written was about Jeffrey Dahmer, but about a derelict nonetheless
  • Brian from Paoli, InWhere did you hear that? I've always heard it's about a simple minded homeless man.
  • Chris from Hull, MaActually, this song was written about Jeffrey Dahmer - the serial killer who canibalized his victims.
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