One Track Mind: Pearl Jam, "Soon Forget" (2000)

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by Tom Johnson

For an album that seems to get almost totally dismissed outright by fans, 2000’s Binaural sure is packed with an awful lot of extremely strong songs. One of those that stands out is “Soon Forget,” the charming little ukelele number by Eddie Vedder.

It’s not just that it’s a great little song (or a hint of things to come years later on his solo albums) but it’s also a great recording. “Soon Forget” has a little something special thanks to producer Tchad Blake, who is an aficionado of binaural recordings (hence the album’s title). This tune, in particular, highlights the effects of his favorite technique, which typically captures sound using a dummy head with one microphone placed in the ear spot on each side — the better to replicate exactly where you would hear sound — and the band playing live around it.

In this case, it’s just Ed and his uke, and as “Soon Forget” comes on, it’s as if he’s stepped up in front of you and begun playing, as if you’re there listening in the studio while he records. “Soon Forget” isn’t the only binaural recording on Binaural, but it’s the one that really shows off the technique.

So your homework assignment is simple: get out some good headphones (read: not Apple-supplied iPod earbuds) and give the song a good listen. The effect is pretty powerful.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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