Better Man

Album: Vitalogy (1994)
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  • Waitin', watchin' the clock, it's four o'clock, it's got to stop
    Tell him, take no more, she practices her speech
    As he opens the door, she rolls over
    Pretends to sleep as he looks her over

    She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man
    She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man

    Talkin' to herself, there's no one else who needs to know
    She tells herself, oh
    Memories back when she was bold and strong
    And waiting for the world to come along
    Swears she knew it, now she swears he's gone

    She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man
    She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can't find a better man
    She lies and says she still loves him, can't find a better man
    She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man

    She loved him, yeah, she don't want to leave this way
    She feeds him, yeah, that's why she'll be back again

    Can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man

Comments: 66

  • Jenny from AustraliaCan't believe Eddie Vedder wrote this song as a teenager. What insight and talent he had at a young age. It is just a good emotional song, well one of the best I should say. Interpret it to suit your own feelings and situation. Alot of Pearl Jam songs seem to be that way.
  • From Experience from ChicagoThis song reminds me of my mother growing up. She stuck with my abusive step father partly because she was afraid she couldn't find a better man. But she also was always looking for the next best thing. She was always unsettled and wondered through life thinking the grass was always greener on the other side. She later remarried a nice guy and after a few years became unsettled and felt like she could do better but stuck with him because she felt she couldn't find a better man.
  • 66 from Green River Personally, I take this song as not a woman dealing with a abusive relationship necessarily, I feel as tho it’s addiction or a secret life he’s living. “Waiting, watching the clock it’s 4’oclock, it’s got to stop”. Maybe it’s just because of my personal present circumstances with my relationship, but this song really does hit my heart and help me a lot. I definitely don’t think she just doesn’t have feelings anymore, I think it’s more of he lost himself to something and he’s become NOT the better man he was before.
  • Living The Life-crang from San Antonio,txThis song is about a women who feel in love with a man she thought they had the “real love” and thru out the years she realizes that it isnt real love but she has invested so much of herself and time into making it work and he just doesn’t care- he cheats leads a different life and no matter how much she knows that she should leave and give it up- she lies to herself that there isn’t anyone out there for her cause she thought he was the Beter man and it turned out he wasn’t. Knowing and believing your selfworth is the hardest. Leaving is the BEST always!! Well that’s my opinion on this song- I must say thank you Pearl Jam cause this song is what opened my eyes after 8yrs.. I haven’t found the better man” but I did find the BETTER ME!!!
  • De Ca from Philadelphia Pa, Us, Earth, Solar System, Milky WayThe lines that stood out to me were "can't find a better MAN" and "She dreams in color she dreams in red." Red is the color of passion. The color of love. But it's not for a man. It's for a woman. She's discovering her sexuality and finding she doesn't really want a better "MAN".
  • Rob from Santa MonicaThis album and Petty’s fantastic album, Wilflwers, were released around the same time and I wore both out from around the clock music. From Courduroy, to Better Man, to Nothingmman, to the other songs, this album resonated with me and still does. A band with seemingly quality guys and my age peers. This band was very deserving of their HOF induction a couple of years back. They are very consistent, and theirs is among the most lyrical around. Glad they are still going strong aly these years later.
  • Mangor from Plano, TxIts melody and chord progression are based loosely on the song "Save It for Later" by The English Beat, which the band sometimes jams to live after "Better Man".
  • Steve from AtlantaYour husband was closer than you on Yellow Ledbetter @Stephanie. "I don't know whether it was the box or the bag" as in what the dead soldier, the subject of the song, came home in. The yellow in the name of the song refers to the yellow letter one receives to notify you of a military death. I believe Ledbetter was the last name of a friend of Eddie Vedder that received such a letter.
  • Circe801 from Rock Hill, ScStephanie in Rock Hill -- I am also in Rock Hill!! Just heard this and my husband thought Eddie was saying "can't find the butterknife". Guess he never listened to the words of the entire song -- he's also a bit tipsy. However, it was he who first heard, in 'Yellow Leadbetter', the line "I don't know if I was the boxer or the bag". I thought it was "I didn't know if I was a box or a bag"... seriously.
  • Carolyn from Detroit, MiThis describes why I stayed with my ex as long as I did. We dated for a year but I wanted to leave him after a few months. We were going through navy nuike school, which is one of the most stressful academic programs in the country, not even considering the military part.
  • Mary from Chicago, IlShe loves someone who does not love her.
    She can't leave him. He doesn't appreciate her, she knows it. But pretends it is not happening.

    Earlier in her life, she was strong and in control. She would not have allowed herself to love someone who didn't love her.

    He will always control her. She gives him power. She will always go back to him.
  • Zach from Tallahassee, FlNO CODE, YIELD, BINAURAL, and RIOT ACT are way better than TEN, VS, and VITALOGY. And you can pretty musch pass off PEARL JAM and BACKSPACER, even though they are still great.
  • Brian from Boston, MaI recently learned to play this on guitar.I had always been able to play most of it just by ear except for the opening.I like the rythm of this song and I like how it encompases both finger picking and strumming.
  • Ginny from Hopewell Junction, NyThis is one of my favorite PJ songs. Eddie Vedder said on VH1 Storytellers that it was
    written when he was in High School. He also said it was about the abusive relationship
    he witnessed growing up.
  • Biannca from Brisbane, AustraliaBetter man is about a woman wanting to leave the relationship she is already in but, fears the thought of being by herself so she lies and says she's in love him because she can't find a better man. It's not that the relationship she's in is abusive, it just that she swears she used to know him but as time has gone by he's changed (or they've both changed) and now she wants out. However, it is mostly likely that she'll probably only leave once she finds that better man but until then she'll stay put. Talking to herself, "there's no one else that needs to know", most likely refers to her keeping these feelings bottled up not because she doesn't have anyone to talk to but because to everyone else maybe they seem like a happy couple and she thinks why bother people with her problems. Maybe because she even feels bad telling someone that, "I'm only with him because i'm scared to be by myself" or "I'm only with him until someone better comes along", that would sound so shallow to someone else who is not her position or feels the way she does. Which again is why she lies and says she's in love with him, can find a better man. I hope this makes sense.
  • Tonya from Milwaukee, Wisorry, having comment issues....
  • Tonya from Milwaukee, WiThis is one of those songs that can take on a few different meanings, whatever is closest to what your experiencing. I thinks its more of the woman who loves a but is not in love with this guy, but she wants to be. He is everything good, stable, and he loves her, but the feelings just aren't there. She doesn't leave him to find somebody else b/c she doesn't think she will find a better one.
  • Tonya from Milwaukee, WiI think this is so one of those thats means whatever fits you best at the time, like i could totaly see the abusice part, or the sooo in love part, but to me take the form of shes not inlove with him, but she wants to be. He's everything good and stable, and he loves her, but the feelings just aren't there for her but she doesn't go seek someone else b/c she won't find a better man.
  • Tonya from Milwaukee, WiI think this is so one of those thats means whatever fits you best at the time, like i could totaly see the abusice part, or the sooo in love part, but to me take the form of shes not inlove with him, but she wants to be. He's everything good and stable, and he loves her, but the feelings just aren't there for her but she doesn't go seek someone else b/c she won't find a better man.
  • Shelby from Mandurahhh, Australia- Kent, Harrisburg, PA, you are so very wrong, and so are all the rest that believe it's about the wife cheating on her husband, I have a very similar childhood to what Eddie Vedder had, i have always grown up with my mums partner abusing her physically and mentally for 13 years of my 16 years of life. It's about his mum being in a loveless relationship were the husband treats her like crap but she thinks thats all she deserves! I grew up listening to this song trying to use it to block out her screams and pleas, and it has symmetrical meaning to an abusive relationship.
  • Mojomoon from Los Angeles, CaIt's not one of my favorite songs but I do like it a lot. My favorites are "Jeremy" & "Evenflo" I just watched them a couple of weeks ago in concert @ Virginia Beach.
    They ROCKED!!!!
  • Georgann from Sewell, Nj"When I was little and this song was popular, I was about 5 years old. My mom, sister, and I would sing "buttter man" instead of "better man" as a joke. We use to listen to Pearl Jam and groups like htat a lot.- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC"

    How WEIRD...I have 2 daughters, one named Stephanie, and they both sang 'butter man' too!
  • Christine from Clare, Ireland"not abusive in ANY way, for other women maybe,"... right, that came out wrong, what I emant was maybe he is good for other women! just not me. not that he might abuse other women!
  • Christine from Clare, IrelandThis is definitely my favourite PJ song next to Yellow Ledbetter.... I find it kind of relevant to me because I was with a guy who I now am starting to see prolly wasn't as good for me as I thought.. not abusive in ANY way, for other women maybe, but like, he prolly wasn't good for me. but I still can't really move on... it's just such a beautiful song.. it's my dream to see them live..
  • Louie from Denton, Txim pretty sure even thoough the music in the song comes off really soft,this song is riddin with angst and watching bad things happening while he was a teen in older relationships so i think its a call out to all the good guys out there to keep going and make the girl happy and a wake up call to the scumbags.
  • Kent from Harrisburg, PaI think that this song has such a dual meaning. If you define the word "lies" as not telling the truth then, she doesn't love him. If you define the word "lies" as lying next to him in bed, then the song takes on an entirely new meaning....that she really does love him and he is sooooo good to her that there is no possible way she would be able to find a better man. Anyone understand what I mean? Regardless, it is a great song from my favorite band.
  • Ryan from Winnipeg, CanadaSomeone told me once that this song isn't in fact about what you think it's about. This song is figuratively about the American political situation.
    The man would be the President, and the woman would be the American public. They pick the president not because they like him, but because they like him best.
  • Elyse from Hanover, NhI used to think this song was just about people settling in romantic relationships. Then I saw the documentary "tough guise" by Sut Jally and I realized it is about domestic violence. Now, I work in a domestic violence program at a hospital and this song is awesome. There are some lines of "Better Man" that I don't think best represent a person in an abusive relationship but overall, the song is great and I love that it speaks out against this all too prevalent issue.
  • George from Chicago, Ilhonestly. I take a complete different perspective for this song. and i know im gonna get criticized for interpreting it this way but being a a fan of pearl jam since I can remember and the whole you can interpret pearl jam anyway you want to. thats why they do not come out with a lot of videos because they feel they want people to interpret it themselves but anyways. i fell that yes, the woman portrayed in the song can not find a betterman but the betterman in fact can be you... thats just what i feel. that anyone can in fact be better than the person she is dating.
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaIt's interesting, that "dreams in color, dreams in red". My sister told me that when she was a kid, her good dreams were in color, but her nightmares were in red. I wonder if it's the same here?
  • K from Melb, United StatesWhen I hear "dreams in color, dreams in red" to me it means that sometimes her dreams are real, and sometimes they are not quite real, like you are looking at everything through a red colored lense. Like the abuse is not happening to you.. maybe to someone else.
  • Diana from Chicago Area, IlBeer me some coolness for Diana from Chicago
    -Dwight Schrute
  • Diana from Chicago Area, IlI love how everyone has their own interpretations of "black". It truly is an amazing song and especially after learning more about its meaning (in the Pearl Jam message pit site:
    that someone mentioned) I can appreciate the song even more. It not only gives me goose bumps, but also, as I'm sure many other people feel, it completely moves me with emotion. I can put myself in the same place as the narrator in the song... whether its truly EV or not... I can't determine, but this song is totally charged with emotion and I'm sure will always be something many people can relate to. Thanks for listening... p.s. I love this site.
  • Matt from Williston Park, NyThe way that I feel about this song every time that I hear it, even though my interpretation is completely different from what Eddie says the song is about, is a woman who is in a relationship with a man who gives her everything and anything he can but she feels that she can do "better" but just hasn't found him yet. Even though he does all this, she uses him and "she lies and says she still loves him, can't find a better man". The only reason she stays with him is because he gives her everything she wants. But the last verse of the song talks of how she realizes that she does in fact love him but doesn't treat him the same way he treats her and realizes she needs to do more for him. "She can't find a better man" because there is no one else who will treat her as good as him.
  • Joshua from Reno, NvRed usually signifies passion or seduction. So I think it means she dreams of the passion and love her marriage lacks.
  • Brian from Portage, MiWhat does the "She dreams in color, She dreams in red" mean?
  • Wes from Littlestown, PaLeandro, Eddie sometimes adds "Save it for Later" by the English Beat to Betterman.
  • Jonah from Thornhill, Canadadoes anyone know the exact show where Eddie says before playing, "i dont think you ever heard it, its a new song but it was written a long time ago. its dedicated to the bastard that married my momma."?
  • Ash from Charleston, WvThe five Pearl Jam songs I could not live without: Jeremy, Release, Daughter, Given To Fly and Better Man. If you're not a Pearl Jam fan and you're reading this, just listen to those five songs a couple of times. You will be afterwards.
  • Leandro from Sao Paulo, BrazilHi there! Does anybody know which is the song that Eddie usually sings in the end of Better Man in some concerts? I think it's something from Bruce Springsteen or something like that...
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWhen I was little and this song was popular, I was about 5 years old. My mom, sister, and I would sing "buttter man" instead of "better man" as a joke. We use to listen to Pearl Jam and groups like htat a lot.
  • Shan from Cyberjaya, MalaysiaI have pearl jam featuring south african choir version of this song. it's just beautiful. eddie's baritone and the choir is just wooaa. it gives me goosebumps esp the last verse "she loved him yeah". the slow strumming builds up towards the end. a beautiful ending. i got it from
  • Ed from Melbourne, Australiahey olivia how much better are Australians than americans
  • Alexis from Evanston, WyI totally agree with you, Brittany. I definitly think they should make a U.S. comeback tour. Pearl Jam rocks!!
  • Olivia from Perth, Australiathis is one of my favourites, and i could never get sick of it! its so good, eddies voice, the music- love it!!!!!!!!!! damn.....why cant we all be born great songwriters....
  • Brittany from Richmond, KyThis is my favorite Pearl Jam song ever! I remember listening to this when I was younger and loving it even though I had no idea what it was about. Pearl Jam is a great group, I wish they would make a U.S. Comeback!!!!
  • Olivia from Perth, AustraliaThis is my favourite Pearl Jam song. It's so good. I could listen to it over and over. The message is pretty obvious too. It's obviously about a woman who settles for less cos she can't find a Better Man. Grat song.
  • Ash from Charleston, WvOne of PJ's best and a perfect example of the talent Vedder has for improvising vocally at the end of a song, after he's done singing the song's lyrics. He does that in the last few bars of this one when he bellows out that great little descant, if you will. "Jeremy" is another example.
  • Andy from Granger, Inthe song is not about a wife who cheats on her husband and wants to leave him, its about a bastard husband who treats his wife like crap but she wont leave him because she's scared of being on her own. and as previously said, it may be an abusive relationship.

    the wife is "waiting, watching the clock, its 4 oclock" in the morning and her husband isnt home yet. she "tells herself to take no more" and that its "got to stop". she "practices her speech" but when he comes home,instead of standing up to him she rolls over and "pretends shes asleep".

    it may be abusive because she "tell herself" that "noone else needs to know....".

    lastly, she's obviously not cheating on her husband, because if she was, then the chorus would obviously not keep saying "cant find a better man", because she obviously would have already found one.
  • Wayne from Denver, Cothe meaning here is so clear. she don't want to leave this way, thats why she'll be back again" It's about a guy involved in this relationship with a girl who is taking their love for granted. she may be involved in an affair and wants to tell him. He feels he is the "better man", and feels that when she leaves him she will realize this and end up wanting her old lover back "thats why she'll be back again". it happened to me. And its not my ego talking either.
  • Alexis from Evanston, WyI absolutely LOVE this song. It makes me cry every time. I wish I could have seen it live. I'm very jealous of everyone who has been to a Pearl Jam concert.
  • Jo Jo from Philly, Pa"Pretends to sleep as he looks her over"
    She is definitly with a man that she does not love, and yet he still fulfills some type of void in her spirit. She is disappointed in herself because, by staying in this relationship, she does not dare venture out from her "comfort zone". Instead, she gives up on ever feeling true love again. "Memories back when she was bold and strong, waiting for the world to come along..." At one point in the song, it also appears that he may have been abusive to her, maybe not physically, but emotionally or mentally. "Talking to herself, 'There's no one else who needs to know,' she tells herself" Perhaps this is why Eddie refers to him as "the bastard".
  • Kevin from Dallas, TxThis sond was written by Eddie Vedder when he was 12, actually, not in his teens. I wish I had that much talent at twelve. I have been to 3 Pearl Jam concerts, and every time Eddie dedicated to his "bastard stepfather"...
  • Eloise from London, EnglandThis song is surely about sticking with a bad rlationship, maybe even a violent one ("There's no-one else who needs to know") just because you don't have the strength to leave. Vedder's songs are so influenced by his family's break up and his stepfather's arrival, that it makes sense to me in that context. That whole thing of "practising her speech" is very familiar to any woman living with an SOB, trying to get out and fantasising about the day she really gets the courage up to face him off and tell him she's leaving.
  • Elliot from St. Louis, MoThis song seems to be about a woman cheating on her husband, whom she doesn't love, but needs his support to survive. She is trying to tell him she doesn't love him, but she lies to herself everytime she is going to tell him. This is a good song, and displays a lighter side of grunge.
  • Drew from Kansas City, MoThis is classic Pearl Jam. Yet another good one to use on your friends who are unconvinced of this Grunge giant's magnificance.
  • Cailey from Hornell, Nythis song is touching to every girl out there b/c every girl feel that they must have a man to get through life and be loved and this song interprets that a girl she cant find a "Better man" and Its just a song that girls cant relate too!! I luv This song and Pearl Jam Rocks!!
  • Stephen Lally from Wappingers Falls, NyThis is for SCOTT, Betterman was PERFORMED and WRITTEN Before Eddie was in Pearl Jam. Eddie wrote it when he was in his homemade band called "Bad Radio", Now the riffs are different and everything, but the lyrics are EXACTLY the same. Check on Google and you can probably download it.
  • Andy from Leeds, United Statesto correct Scott, the song was written pretty much exactly the same many years ago when Eddie played in Bad Radio, you can download a liver version of it from those days and apart from a slight difference in arrangement and slightly dodgy guitar playing its exactly the same..
  • Stephen from Broadalbin, NyFor what it's worth to anyone, I was recently trying to find out what other peoples' thoughts were on the song. My own depection, a man sees a girl that is in love with another man. Only, he is terrible for her, and she needs to lose him. But she has so convinced herself that she's in "love" with him that she lies to herself and keeps saying it's love. She "practices her speech" to finally end it but when he comes home "she rolls over, pretends to sleep." To try and sum it up, she's in the same situation many girls fall into that they think they've found the man of their dreams and are too stuck on them to ever think he is bad for them. They are so blinded that they convince themself that they "can't find a better" man when in reality it's that they need a better man. And for us guys that like this song for its lyrics, as well as it being a good song, I think it's always that we think we're the better man. Or maybe, we KNOW we're the better man..
  • Scott from Hubbard, OhThe comment about Eddie performing this song as a teen has a slight misconception attached to it. He was quoted by saying that if it were not for Jeff and Stone "Betterman" would never have been recorded. He also stated that it was written well before he joined the band. Whether or not he wrote the lyrics during his teen years I cannot say with any certainty, but I do know that the music was Jeff and Stone's creation - making it impossible for Eddie to have performed it as we know it during his early years. Watch the song be performed on "Live at the Garden" DVD and you will find out about its origin.
  • Fiona from Philadelphia, PaI thought this was about domestic violence.
  • Rachel from Sydney, AustraliaI think almost every girl can relate to this song, no matter how you interprate it.
    Alot of us are led to believe that we are nothing without a 'man'. I believed this illusion for years before I recognised the truth of being your own person, and having good friends is far more important than settling down with the first 'man' that comes along!
  • Hans from Oakdale, CaThis song is AWESOME. One of my favorite songs ever!!
  • Mary from Lawrenceville, GaI think the song is about a man who is in love with a woman who is already with somebody else. Hes trying to tell a story about that she doesn't really love him, but she thinks she does. He tells all this good stuff about her, and then when he says, 'cant find a better man' the last time, in the chorus, he is trying to say, cant find a better man than ME.
  • Rebekah from Prince George, VaTo me the songs about being with some body and never leaving because you can't
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