This was originally recorded by J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers in 1964. Their version also went to #2 in the US (held off by "If You Had My Love" by Jennifer Lopez). See those Songfacts to learn more about it.
Lead singer Eddie Vedder came across this song when he found the record in an antiques store in Seattle before a show. He bought it and stayed up all night listening to it. He took it to the band and they played it throughout the summer of their 1998 tour.
Pearl Jam recorded this at a soundcheck and released it as a single to their fan club, who often get songs that are unavailable to the public. After a while, radio stations got copies and started playing it. By the spring of 1999, it was getting a lot of airplay and becoming a hit, even though it was not released as a single or available on an album.
Pearl Jam didn't release many singles, but when it was clear there was a great deal of demand for the song, they decided to put it out on the condition that the proceeds from the single go to benefit refugees in Kosovo.
This is the highest-charting Pearl Jam song in the US. The band generally eschews traditional promotion methods, choosing instead to focus on their music. This song found an audience without Pearl Jam shilling for it, something that was a relief to the band. In a 2000 interview with the Australian version of Rolling Stone, guitarist Stone Gossard said: "If one of our records takes off, it won't be because we did three videos and were on the cover of Time and did Oprah, The View, and every radio station's Christmas show."
Vedder added: "That was kind of uplifting, or at least it re-instilled some faith that a good song can cut through, even though there's no dancers on stage when we do the song, or video to go with it or anything like that. That helped me feel like all was not lost or something, at least in our world here."
Suggestion credit: Saint - New Orleans, LA
In addition to the CD single, this can be found on some bootlegs and live albums, as well as the No Boundaries compilation, which also benefited refugees in Kosovo.
Tanya Evans from Sydney, AustraliaThis song was a favourite of a dear friend of mine when we were teenagers, unfortunately he committed suicide 16 years ago. Every time I hear this song it reminds me of him and in a strange way I feel he's still with me.
Joe from Cumberland, MdI first heard this song when i was about 8 years old with my grandfather on vinyl i was hooked even on the original version he told me it was a true story and not till recently did i really believe it. My grandfather past away 2 years before pearl jams version was released and i know if he had still been here with us he would have loved it u can feel the emotion in eddie vedders voice when he sings this song. I am a firefighter and when u see the things i have seen it makes u think twice about how fast life can be taken from us.
Kat from Belfast, United KingdomDamn, there's a lot of mix opinions on this song. I personally like it. But I'm slightly biased, I'm a big PJ fan and haven't heard the original must Download it!
Nuno from Lisbon, PortugalDuring the concert at the Restelo stadium in Lisbon, Portugal (23 May 2000), there was a fault with the drum kit which stopped the band for a couple of minutes following the 12th song. Eddie informed that "I don't know if you noticed but Matt Cameron broke his carburettor on the last song. We've got mechanics working on it"... Then decided to play Last Kiss while the drums were being repaired. He played solo an acoustic guitar and then was joined by the rest of the band before the end of the song. It was one of the highlights of the show, duly captured on record when all CDs of that European tour were released.
Mike from Ottawa, OnThis song was not first done by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. The first version was done by the writer of the song Wayne Cochran and his band the CC Riders in 1962. J. Frank Wilson did an early cover version of the song.
Jerome from Las Vegas, NvI'm 63 years old and love music. I heard PJ's version several months ago on jukebox. It"s brilliant. It is a much better version than the original. It's as if the gentleman responsible for this wonderful interpretation actually witnessed the tragedy and felt bound to share his thoughts with us. thank you. well done.
Leonard from Stow, Ohmy name len seni from stow ohio i played in a disco band in the 80s called the sunset band and we were playing in kentucky florance at a ramada in when on my break i sat at the bar and talked to a man who said he was the origanal singer of this song and he said he got not one thing out of it now he is a truck driver
Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesI was a huge fan of the original song when it first went on the airwaves. I still am, and I have never heard anyone cover it to my satisfaction until now. Vedder gives the lyrics a simple, sincere delivery, and the instrumentals are nice and heavy without overload. For those who can't understand why the girl just dies and there's no message or moral -- that's because this was based on reality. Sometimes things just happen.
Cody from Grafton, OhEasily the saddest song ever =[
Joycemorrison from Ph, -if this song had any meaning to me before, all the more now. i lost one of my bestfriends last june (river accident) and i still can't believe/accept it. a part of me somehow expects that he'll be texting me anytime soon. it just kills me twice over when a voice insists that i won't be able to talk to him anymore (at least in this lifetime). he was singing this song a few weeks before the incident. i still cry buckets...
Anna Mae from Cagayan De Oro, PhilippinesHAI i like youre song last kiss bcuz it have nyc meaning.. so ive got 2 be good 2 c my baby be.. hhehe love yah pearl jam.. rock
Michael from Morris County, NjOnly Pearl Jam song my mom likes
Leonard from Stow, Ohmy name is leonard seni and back in the 80s i traveled playing across the us and was in kentucky when i sat at the bar on my break and talked to a man who said he was the man who sang last kiss i asked him what he got from that he said not much im a truck driver now
Billie from Boynton Beach, FlThis is a great song. i think its a lot better than the original one because this one actually sounds sad. The original sounds too cheerful in my opinion.
Joni from Ocean County, NjI'm not even a Pearl Jam fan and this is one of my all-time favorite songs.
Penelope from Geeveston , AzHey i am the biggest fan of pearl jam i know! its the best song ever!!!!!
Penelope from Geeveston , Azhey i am the biggest fan i know of pearl jam. i think its the best song ever!!!!!
Justin from Singapore, SingaporeThis song reminds me of an old song from the early 60s called Teen Angel. There are similarities in the tragic story. Eddie's got to have one of the best voices in the business.
Kevin from Memphis , TnEddie Vedder was born to sing this song! Yes it's sad as hell, but in the end he knows he'll be with her again if he keeps his faith.
Courtlad from Dacula, HiI think the sterile, almost bland lyrics (although it is a populatr pj style and it IS a very toyching song) is symbolic of eddie's life after the accident, filled with emotion, but almost not like life at all its brilliant
Emmaleisha Hayter from Brisbane, Australiathis song is close to me because my dad lost his daugter when she was young and it has grown on me very much
Joycemorrison from Phthat PJ fans hate this song is total rubbish. gad i LUV this song! i could just put it on repeat and listen to it all day. much as the lyrics stands alone by itself, i think PJ's cover is actually more heart-wrenching than the original one. it just kills me.
Chenel from Salamanca, Nyi just may have contradicted myself, no?
Chenel from Salamanca, Nyit really makes me terribly sad and I cry every single time I hear it. Although I do have to agree with Will from Charlotte on this one. Some songs are not meant to be messed with after the original has done it.
Madalyn from Greensburg, Pathis song makes my heart ache...you go pearl jam i love you guys saw you in concert...bravo...you most popular but i have my other favorites but this one is reaal good too... it truly touches me
Dawson from Draper, Ut3 AM 3:47 Matchbox Twenty Yourself Or Someone Like You Alternative & Punk
Sarah from Toowoomba, AustraliaOne of my friends was killed in a very similar way to this song and hearing it always gives me shivers and makes me wonder 'why'. It shouldnt matter who sung the song first and which version you prefer, it's more about how you connect to the song and what you can take away from it. I've never heard the original version but after hearing some of the comments about it, I might try and find it.
Dawson from Draper, UtWhen I was about 6, I used to hear this song on the radio station my parents would listen to, and I loved it. I didn't really like music back then, so when my parents would hear it, they said "Dawson, here's your song!", and I would listen to it, and I always sand along to the chorus. I never knew who it was by until recently, and it's my new favorite song.
Chris from Buffalo, United Statesme and my ex girlfriend mindy love this song we danced to it one night at a school dance after we fought that song brought us back togther
Chris from Buffalo, United Statesi sang this song at camp and did a great job my voice choked up at the end just like eddies
Henry from Kingston, NyI forgot to say that one day I got so caught up in this song, I listened to it 10 times in a row. I've never been able to bring myself to listen to it since.
Henry from Kingston, NyThis song always bothered me. It strikes me as pointlessly depressing. There's no moral or anything (though it does seem very Christian, all the stuff about heaven), the guy's girlfriend just dies, for no reason at all. I guess that's what makes it so sad.
Musically, I think it's a great song, and Pearl Jam did an awesome job. :]
Jon from Oakridge, OrOne of the few times I can actually say the original and the cover are equally good. I can't decide which one's better.
Jeri from Edmonton, CanadaThis song is so deep and powerful, i almost cry whenever I listen to it. It's beautiful and I think Pearl Jam did a Great job.
Curt from Elk Rapids, MiMy best friend died in a car crash june 6, 1999. At his funeral/viewing one of our friends played the pearl jam version of "last Kiss". To this day when I hear this song I "water up". I think I like the original a little bit better, but PJ did a darn good job. R.I.P. PETE -CJG
Rob from Vancouver, CanadaReminds me of the scene in "wild at heart" when Cage and Dern come accross the two teenagers in a car wreck. No survivors in the movie, tho.
Jamie from New York, Nyi downloaded it accidentally and from the 1st time i listened tot his song i knew that it is my fave song... pearl jam did a great job ;p
Alexis from Evanston, WyNormally, I think the original of a song is best and should never be remade. I can be pretty hard-core about that, but this song is amazing. I think Pearl Jam did a beautiful job on this song and Eddie's voice rocks!
Monica from Oxnard, Cahonestly, most original songs are better than the remakes. i like pearl jam, but damn, no modern song can compare to old songs because they are the foundation of today's music. gotta love the oldies!
Brad from Perth- Wa, AustraliaI get choked up ay, i hav'nt heard the original but i'm going to track it down now (excuse the pun) i learnt to play it as soon as i heard it, sounds pretty good when i play coz my voice gets all choked towards the end
Elliot from St. Louis, MoI can see why some PJ fans dont like it, but I have heard the original version, and I would say that Pearl Jam's version is a lot better. I think is song is about average. Pearl Jam rocks!
Ash from Charleston, WvI have to agree with George in... Hell. I'm a big PJ fan and I don't mind this song at all. What I was really hoping to find out, though, is it based on actual events, or just made up on the fly?
Julie from Marquette, MiHave to agree with Will in Charlotte...OMG! this is soooo bad! What were they thinking???!!
Aj from Cleveland, GaBesides a few exceptions, nothing says 1999 to me like this song done by Pearl Jam.
Aj from Cleveland, GaI guess we disagree because you grew up with the oldies version and I grew up with Pearl Jam's.
Will from Charlotte, NcI respectively disagree with your opinion. It is my opinion that you believe that because quite simply, the Pearl Jam version is slower, with no background vocals. I believe that this is Eddie's worst vocal performance of all the PJ songs I have heard. J. Frank Wilson sings this better, and without any less feeling.
Aj from Cleveland, GaNo way, Pearl Jam gave this song LIFE. J. Frank Wilson just sung it, without any feeling.
Will from Charlotte, NcI am huge fan of Pearl Jam, but lets be real about this. The original Last Kiss is much better than the PJ rendition. Maybe some of you didn't grow up listening to oldies like I did, but this isn't a Pearl Jam, ok? J. Frank Wilson is probably rolling over in his grave.
Jamie from Mexico, MeOne of the most Touching, By Far! PEARL JAM ROX
Chetan from Bangalore, IndiaNot typical Pearl Jam. But hell, what's typical pearl jam anyway! He experiments so much; sings mucha different stuff!! Tht's "typical Eddie to me... I got some short live video of it where everyone in the front row has tears in their eyes! in the last part of the song eddie's voice is either brilliant disguise or he was actually cryin >:-|
Ron from Vancouver, CroatiaTouching song
George from Hell, PaI don't hate it, and I'm a pj fan.
Anonymous from Chicago, IlThis was one of the first songs i learned to play on guitar...only 4 chords.
Gerald from Melbourne, AustraliaThat last verse always breaks me down...can't be seen in public when this song airs. I love it despite it being so sad because it reminds me to cherish my missus and appreciate our times together *sook sook*
Scott from Hubbard, OhPJ Fans hate this song because it is not a "Pearl Jam" song - I heard Mike found a vinyl of this song while in a hotel room and just started to play it. The rest is history. It sucks that this was the only song that went #1.
Chris from Victoria, TxGreat song very sad. Funny how you can actually understand Eddie Vedder in this one.
Jeremy from Highlands, TxOne of the sadest songs I have ever heard. I get choked up everytime I hear it.