Jeremy (song)

Jeremy (song)

Infobox Single |
Name = Jeremy

Artist = Pearl Jam
from Album = Ten
B-side = "Footsteps" / "Yellow Ledbetter"
Released = 1992
Format = CD single, Cassette, Vinyl
Recorded = March 27, 1991 – April 26, 1991 at London Bridge Studios, Seattle, Washington
Genre = Grunge
Length = 5:18
Label = Epic
Producer = Pearl Jam, Rick Parashar
Writer = Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament
Certification = Gold (RIAA)
Chart position =
Last single = "Even Flow" (1992)
This single = "Jeremy" (1992)
Next single = "Oceans" (1992)Extra tracklisting
Album = Ten
Type = studio
prev_track = "Black"
prev_no = Track 5
this_track = "Jeremy"
track_no = Track 6
next_track = "Oceans"
next_no = Track 7
Upper caption = Audio sample
Audio file = Jeremy.ogg
"Jeremy" is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam. Written by bassist Jeff Ament and vocalist Eddie Vedder, the song was inspired by a newspaper article Vedder read about a kid who killed himself in front of his classmates. "Jeremy" was released as the third single from Pearl Jam's debut album, "Ten" (1991) in 1992. The song reached the number five spot on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock "Billboard" charts. "Jeremy" was included on Pearl Jam's greatest hits album, "".

The song especially gained notoriety by way of its music video (directed by Mark Pellington and released in 1992), which was put into heavy rotation by MTV and became a hit. In 1993, the "Jeremy" video was awarded four MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Video of the Year.cite web
url =
title = 1993 MTV Video Music Awards
publisher = Rockonthenet
accessdate = 2007-09-05

Origin and recording

The song features lyrics written by frontman Eddie Vedder and music written by bassist Jeff Ament. The song's music was written before the band went out on tour in support of Alice in Chains in February 1991.Coryat, Karl. [ "Godfather of the "G" Word"] . "Bass Player Magazine". April 1994.]

Ament on the song:

I already had two pieces of music that I wrote on acoustic guitar...with the idea that I would play them on a Hamer 12-string bass I had just ordered. When the bass arrived, one of [the pieces] became "Jeremy"....I had an idea for the outro when we were recording it the second time...I overdubbed a 12-string bass, and we added a cello. That was big-time production, for us....Rick [Parashar] ’s a supertalented engineer-musician...Stone [Gossard, Pearl Jam’s rhythm guitarist] was sick one day, and Ed, Rick and I conjured up the art piece that opens and closes the song. That was so fun — I wanted to make a whole record like that.Black, Johnny. [ "The Greatest Songs Ever! Jeremy"] . "Blender". September 2002.]

In another interview, Ament stated:

We knew it was a good song, but it was tough getting it to feel right -- for the chorus to sit back and the outro to push over the top. The tune went from practically not making it on the record to being one of the best takes. I'm not sure if it's the best song on the album but I think it's the best take. On "Jeremy" I always heard this other melody in the choruses and the end, and it never sounded good on guitar or bass. So we brought in a cello player which inspired a background vocal, and those things made the song really happen. Most of the time if something doesn't work right away, I just say fuck it -- but this was an instance when perseverance paid off.


The song is in the key of A, and intertwines the parallel modes of major and minor frequently. It features prominent usage of Ament's 12-string Hamer bass guitar, which is pivotal to the sound of the introduction and end of the recording. The song starts off with the bassline and quiet harmonic notes also on the 12-string bass, and continues in a sedate vein until after the second chorus, when densely layered guitars and vocals gradually enter. At the end the instruments gradually fade out until all that is audible is a clean guitar and the 12-string bass, like the intro. Both instruments play a descending minor key melody, fading out with one single note.


"Jeremy" is based on two different true stories. The song takes its main inspiration from a newspaper article about a 15-year-old boy named Jeremy Wade Delle, born February 10, 1975, from Richardson, Texas who shot himself in front of his English class at Richardson High School on the morning of January 8, 1991 at about 9:45 am. Delle was described by schoolmates as "real quiet" and known for "acting sad." After coming in to class late that morning, Delle was told to get an admittance slip from the school office. He left the classroom, and returned with a .357 Magnum revolver. Delle walked to the front of the classroom, announced "Miss, I got what I really went for", put the barrel of the firearm in his mouth, and pulled the trigger before his teacher or classmates could react. A girl named Lisa Moore knew Jeremy from the in-school suspension program: "He and I would pass notes back and forth and he would talk about life and stuff," she said. "He signed all of his notes, 'Write back.' But on Monday he wrote, 'Later days.' I didn't know what to make of it. But I never thought this would happen."

When asked about the song, Vedder explained:

It came from a small paragraph in a paper which means you kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you're gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper. Sixty-three degrees and cloudy in a suburban neighborhood. That's the beginning of the video and that's the same thing is that in the end, it does nothing … nothing changes. The world goes on and you're gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself. Be stronger than those people. And then you can come back. [Vedder, Eddie. [ "Rockline Interview"] . KISW-FM, Seattle, Washington. October 18, 1993.]

The other story that the song is based on involved a student that Vedder knew from his junior high school in San Diego, California. He elaborated further in a 1991 interview:

I actually knew somebody in junior high school, in San Diego, California, that did the same thing, just about, didn't take his life but ended up shooting up an oceanography room. I remember being in the halls and hearing it and I had actually had altercations with this kid in the past. I was kind of a rebellious fifth-grader and I think we got in fights and stuff. So it's a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it's also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew and I don't know...the song, I think it says a lot. I think it goes somewhere...and a lot of people interpret it different ways and it's just been recently that I've been talking about the true meaning behind it and I hope no one's offended and believe me, I think of Jeremy when I sing it. [Vedder, Eddie. [ "Interview with David Sadoff."] KLOL FM, Houston, Texas. December 1991.]

Release and reception

The song was released as a single in 1992 with the B-sides "Footsteps" and "Yellow Ledbetter", both of which can also be found on the compilation "Lost Dogs" (2003). "Jeremy" became the most successful song from "Ten" on the American rock charts. The song peaked at number five on the "Billboard" Mainstream Rock Tracks and "Billboard" Modern Rock Tracks charts. It received Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Hard Rock Performance in 1993. [cite web
url =
title = 35th Grammy Awards
publisher = Rockonthenet
accessdate = 2007-09-05

Outside of the United States, the single was released in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached the top 40 on the Canadian Singles Chart. "Jeremy" reached the UK Top 20. It peaked at number 93 in Germany, reached the top 40 in New Zealand, and was a top ten success in Ireland.

Chris True of Allmusic said that "Jeremy" "is where Pearl Jam mania galvanized and propelled the band past the 'Seattle sound' and into rock royalty." He described it as a "classic buildup tune" and proclaimed it as "arguably Pearl Jam's most earnest work and one of their most successful singles." [True, Chris. [ "Jeremy > Review"] . Allmusic. Retrieved on May 16, 2008.]

Music video

Original video

gave Cuffaro permission to use any song off "Ten". He decided on "Jeremy", which was not intended to be released as a single at the time. [Neely, Kim. "Five Against One". Diane Publishing Company, 1999. ISBN 0-7567-7409-8] Epic refused to fund the clip, forcing Cuffaro to finance it himself. [ [ "Pearl Jam Chronology: October 1991"] . September 19, 2001.]

Cuffaro raised the money by taking out a loan and selling all of his furniture and half his guitar collection. He first shot several scenes of a young actor, Eric Schubert, playing the part of Jeremy. Cuffaro and his crew spent a day filming Schubert playing the part of Jeremy. The scenes with Pearl Jam were shot in a warehouse on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles on October 4, 1991. A revolving platform was rigged at the center of the set, and the members of the band climbed on it individually to give the illusion of the song being performed as a crew member spun the giant turntable by hand. Vedder appeared with black gaffer's tape around his biceps as a mourning band for the real Jeremy.

To save money, Cuffaro did all of the post-production himself. He finished the video after six months, but it was ultimately rejected by Epic. Cuffaro's version was never broadcast, and lived on only in bootlegs. It is currently available on his [ website] .

Official video

in June 1992 to film a new version of the "Jeremy" video. [ [ "The Sky I Scrape: Pearl Jam FAQ"] .]

Working with veteran editor Bruce Ashley, Pellington's high-budget video incorporated rapid-fire editing and juxtaposition of sound, still images, graphics and text elements with live action sequences to create a collage effect. Actor Trevor Wilson portrayed Jeremy. Wilson filmed his classroom scenes as Jeremy at Bayonne High School in New Jersey. [Paul, Mary. [ "Time after time Jersey produces talent in entertainment"] . "Bayonne Journal". July 5, 2007.] The video also featured many close-ups of Vedder performing the song, with the other members of Pearl Jam shown only briefly. Some of the stock imagery was similar to the original video, but when it came to the band Pellington focused on Vedder. Vedder thus serves as the video's narrator.

The video premiered on August 1, 1992, [cite web | url= | title=Pearl Jam: Timeline | accessdate=2007-06-27 |] and quickly found its way into heavy rotation on MTV. The success of the "Jeremy" video helped catapult Pearl Jam to fame. The video won four MTV Video Music Awards in 1993, including Best Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Metal/Hard Rock Video and Best Direction.

Video summary

In Pellington's video, Jeremy is shown being taunted by classmates at school, running through a forest, and screaming at his parents at a dinner table. Jeremy is the only character that actually moves throughout the video. The other characters in Jeremy's life are in stationary tableau. Shots of words such as "problem", "peer", "harmless", "bored", and "child" frequently appear onscreen. Also, the phrase Genesis 3:6 appears, which references the creation of sin, specifically Eve eating from the tree of knowledge and giving some of the fruit to Adam. As the song becomes more dense and frenetic, Jeremy's behavior becomes increasingly agitated. Strobe lighting adds to the anxious atmosphere. Jeremy is shown standing, arms raised in a V (as described in the lyrics at the beginning of the song), in front of a wall of billowing flames. Jeremy is later shown staring at the camera while wrapped in a US flag, surrounded by fire.

The final scene of the video shows Jeremy striding into class, tossing a crumpled up late slip to the teacher and standing before his classmates. He reaches down and draws back his arm as he takes a gun out of his pocket. The gun only appears onscreen in the uncut version of the video. The edited video cuts to an extreme close-up of Jeremy's face as he puts the barrel of the gun in his mouth, closes his eyes, and pulls the trigger. After a flash of light the screen turns black. The next shot is a pan across the classroom, showing Jeremy's blood-spattered classmates, all completely still, recoiling in horror.


MTV restrictions on violent imagery prevented Pellington from showing Jeremy putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger at the climax of the video. Ironically, the ambiguous close-up of Jeremy at the end of the edited video, combined with the defensive posture of Jeremy's classmates and the large amount of blood, led many viewers to believe that the video ended with Jeremy shooting his classmates, not himself.

Pellington himself dismisses this interpretation of the video. [Weisbard, Eric, et al. [ "Ten Past Ten"] "Spin". August 2001.] He had filmed a scene where Jeremy is shown putting the gun in his mouth, but this footage was edited with a zoom effect for the MTV version of the video so the gun was not visible. Pellington also shot a slightly different take of the classroom Pledge of Allegiance sequence. In the MTV version of the video there is a brief shot of Jeremy's classmates making a gesture that could be either the American Bellamy salute or the Nazi Hitler salute; in the original cut of the video this scene is longer.

After "Jeremy", Pearl Jam backed away from making music videos. "Ten years from now," Ament said, "I don't want people to remember our songs as videos."cite web | last = Crowe | first = Cameron | url = | title = Five Against the World | work = Rolling Stone | date = 1993-10-28 | accessdate = 2007-06-23 ] The band did not release another video until 1998's "Do the Evolution", which was entirely animated.

In 1996, a shooting occurred at Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake, Washington that left three dead and a fourth injured. The legal defense team for the shooter, Barry Loukaitis, stated that he was influenced by the music video.

After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the video was banned for a time. Since then, MTV and VH1 have rarely aired the video, and mention of it has been omitted in retro-documentaries such as "I Love the '90s". It is still available on the internet, on websites such as YouTube. It can also occasionally be seen playing at "Hard Rock Cafe" locations. The video has been getting airtime on VH1 Classic and MTV Hits programming as of 2006. The video was included in MuchMusic's list of the 12 most controversial videos. The reason was because of the topic of suicide, and recent school shootings. The scene of Jeremy with the gun in his mouth was not shown. It was also included on VH1's countdown of the "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s" at number eleven,cite web
url =
publisher = VH1
title = VH1: 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
accessdate = 2008-08-09
] with several clips of the video shown, including part of the ending.

Live performances

The song was premiered live at the band's May 17, 1991 concert in Seattle, Washington. [ "Pearl Jam Songs: "Alive""] .] Pearl Jam performed the song for its appearance on "MTV Unplugged" in 1992. Pearl Jam also performed "Jeremy" at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1992. The band had intended to perform the Dead Boys song "Sonic Reducer", but MTV insisted that it play "Jeremy" since the song's music video was already in heavy rotation. (It had been released after the deadline for that year's awards.) At the end of the intense performance, Vedder managed to sneak in a reference to the Dead Boys song by singing the first line of "Sonic Reducer", "I don't need no ... I don't need no mom and dad." [Bruns, Jean and Caryn Rose. [ "Jeremy: 64 Degrees and Cloudy"] . August 1999.]

Live performances of "Jeremy" can be found on the "Animal" single, the "Dissident"/"Live in Atlanta" box set, and the "Live at the Gorge 05/06" box set. A performance of the song is also included on the DVD "Touring Band 2000".

Cover versions

A version of the song by MiG Ayesa can be found on the 2007 album "MiG".

Track listing

;Compact Disc Single (US, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and Austria) and Cassette Single (Australia)
#"Jeremy" (Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament) – 4:49
#"Footsteps" (Stone Gossard, Vedder) – 3:53
#*Previously Unreleased
#*Recorded live on "Rockline", May 11, 1992, hosted by Bob Coburn.
#"Yellow Ledbetter" (Ament, Mike McCready, Vedder) – 5:04
#*Previously Unreleased

;Compact Disc Single (UK)
#"Jeremy" (single version) (Vedder, Ament) – 4:46
#"Yellow Ledbetter" (Ament, McCready, Vedder) – 5:04
#*Previously Unreleased
#"Alive" (live) (Vedder, Gossard) – 4:55
#*Recorded live on August 3, 1991 at RKCNDY in Seattle, Washington.

;7" Vinyl Single (UK) and Cassette Single (UK)
#"Jeremy" (single version) (Vedder, Ament) – 4:46
#"Alive" (live) (Vedder, Gossard) – 4:55
#*Recorded live on August 3, 1991 at RKCNDY in Seattle, Washington.;7" Vinyl Single (The Netherlands)
#"Jeremy" (Vedder, Ament) – 4:49
#"Footsteps" (Gossard, Vedder) – 3:53
#*Previously Unreleased
#*Recorded live on "Rockline", May 11, 1992, hosted by Bob Coburn.

;7" Vinyl Single (US)
#"Jeremy" (single version) (Vedder, Ament) – 5:18
#"Alive" (Vedder, Gossard) – 5:40

;12" Vinyl Single (UK)
#"Jeremy" (Vedder, Ament) – 4:46
#"Footsteps" (Gossard, Vedder) – 3:53
#*Previously Unreleased
#*Recorded live on "Rockline", May 11, 1992, hosted by Bob Coburn.
#"Alive" (live) (Vedder, Gossard) – 4:55

Chart positions


The information regarding accolades attributed to "Jeremy" is adapted in part from web|url=|title="Jeremy" accolades|accessdate=2008-05-06|publisher=Acclaimed Music]


External links

* [ Classroom activity]
* [ Full story behind the song]
*YouTube | id = bMRTOZExfJA | title = Music video for "Jeremy" (Censored version)
* [ Music video for "Jeremy" (Alternate version)] on Chris Cuffaro's homepage (QuickTime, 31 MB)
* [ Lyrics]
* [ Allmusic review of "Jeremy"]

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