Swallowed Whole

Album: Lightning Bolt (2013)

Songfacts®:

  • This mid-tempo rocker finds Eddie Vedder wrestling with mortality as he reflects on, "what lies beyond the grave." It is one of several tracks on Lightning Bolt that finds the the Pearl Jam frontman thinking about the passing of life. Vedder explained to Billboard magazine that rather wanting to focus on mortality it was something he couldn't get away from. "It sounds so pedestrian and ridiculous but death is everywhere," he said. "Maybe just because I read the paper every day. Maybe it's war, maybe it's the epidemic rates of suicide in veterans coming back. I just can't seem to get around it. So I think part of it is not getting around it, it's getting through it. Songs end up being mantras that you end up playing for yourself as well."
  • Vedder, a serious surfer, wrote this one night when he had gone out on a paddleboard. "It was a full moon and it was the calmest I have ever seen the ocean," he remembered to The Sun. "I was somewhere very remote and it was midnight and I had to do something. I had to get on the water – so I did a two-hour paddle out to the waves."

    "The waves break about three-quarters of a mile out," he continued, "and as you get closer they're really loud and huge. You couldn't see how big they were from the shore."

    "It was such a tremendously intense experience," Vedder added. "Every nerve is up to your skin. Your senseless are so alive because you are by yourself and it's extremely beautiful and also a little bit dangerous."

    He concluded: "That song came from that night and I do like that it has a build and then it clears out. There's momentum, it's almost like you're running through trails of trees and then it becomes an open field."

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