Long Road

Pearl Jam and the Soundtrack of a Generation


By Steven Hyden

Formats and Prices




$20.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 27, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A leading music journalist’s riveting chronicle of how beloved band Pearl Jam shaped the times, and how their legacy and longevity have transcended generations.

Ever since Pearl Jam first blasted onto the Seattle grunge scene three decades ago with their debut album, Ten, they have sold 85M+ albums, performed for hundreds of thousands of fans around the world, and have even been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Long Road: Pearl Jam and the Soundtrack Of A Generation, music critic and journalist Steven Hyden celebrates the life, career, and music of this legendary group, widely considered to be one of the greatest American rock bands of all time. Long Road is structured like a mix tape, using 18 different Pearl Jam classics as starting points for telling a mix of personal and universal stories. Each chapter tells the tale of this great band — how they got to where they are, what drove them to greatness, and why it matters now.
Much like the generation it emerged from, Pearl Jam is a mass of contradictions. They were an enormously successful mainstream rock band who felt deeply uncomfortable with the pursuit of capitalistic spoils. They were progressive activists who spoke in favor of abortion rights and against the Ticketmaster monopoly, and yet they epitomized the sound of traditional, male-dominated rock ‘n’ roll. They were looked at as spokesmen for their generation, even though they ultimately projected profound confusion and alienation. They triumphed, and failed, in equal doses — the quintessential Gen-X tale.
Impressive as their stats, accolades, and longevity may be, Hyden also argues that Pearl Jam’s most definitive accomplishment lies in the impact their music had on Generation X as a whole. Pearl Jam’s music helped an entire generation of listeners connect with the glory of bygone rock mythology, and made it relevant during a period in which tremendous American economic prosperity belied a darkness at the heart of American youth. More than just a chronicle of the band’s career, this book is also a story about Gen- X itself, who like Pearl Jam came from angsty, outspoken roots and then evolved into an establishment institution, without ever fully shaking off their uncertain, outsider past. For so many Gen-Xers growing up at the time, Pearl Jam’s music was a beacon that offered both solace and guidance. They taught an entire generation how to grow up without losing the purest and most essential parts of themselves.
Written with his celebrated blend of personal memoir, criticism, and journalism, Hyden explores Pearl Jam’s path from Ten to now. It's a chance for new fans and old fans alike to geek out over Pearl Jam minutia—the B-sides, the beloved deep cuts, the concert bootlegs—and explore the multitude of reasons why Pearl Jam’s music resonated with so many people. As Hyden explains, “Most songs pass through our lives and are swiftly forgotten. But Pearl Jam is forever.”



As a music critic, the subject that has always interested me most is career arcs. I am particularly fascinated by bands. How do bands start and why do they end? Why do some bands crash and burn after only a few years and why do others last for decades? What are the dynamics at play between the singer and the instrumentalists? The songwriters and the non-songwriters? How are friendships and business partnerships balanced? How do you reconcile the weight of history with the constant churn of the present?

If you pay close enough attention, patterns emerge. Bands tend to rise and fall for the same reasons. Every rock band that has ever broken up has, in some way, reenacted the story of the Beatles, a phenomenon gradually undone by deteriorating interpersonal relationships, bruised egos, and unrequited artistic ambitions. The particulars of their biography are now rock clichés—the conniving business managers, the creative and emotional split between the core duo, the talented underling with a backlog of songs that he can’t get on the records, the hurt feelings left unexpressed, the girlfriends, the drugs. The Beatles not only profoundly influenced the idea of becoming a band but also the idea of unbecoming a band.

The Rolling Stones, meanwhile, are the model for bands who decide not to break up, ever. The value of knowing your role within the band, the power of conceding that your lead singer is the benevolent dictator, the ability to manage your disappointments and resentments for the greater good of grossing hundreds of millions of dollars on the road—these are the lessons of the Stones.

There are other role models. U2 invented the idea that you can remake a European post-punk band into a stadium-filling Americana act, and then remake yourself again into a post-modern dance-rock group. This mold was adopted by scores of would-be “biggest band in the world” candidates—Coldplay, the Killers, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem—in the twenty-first century. There’s also the Grateful Dead, who proved you could fill stadiums by cultivating an unpredictable live show and approaching albums with bemused indifference.

And then there’s Pearl Jam. What is the Pearl Jam mold? You could define it as a combination of the aforementioned rock-band molds, though the specifics beyond that are jumbled and counterintuitive. Pearl Jam has committed to going the distance like the Stones, and their singer could be described as a kind of “benevolent dictator” within their inner power structure. But Pearl Jam is also a band in which every member writes songs—even the drummer!—which gives them a degree of parity that’s uncommon for a band of their stature.

Since the turn of the century, Pearl Jam has been frequently compared to the Grateful Dead, due to the thriving community of devoted fans who collect bootleg recordings and pore over the band’s every onstage utterance. But the Dead for years operated on the fringes of American culture without an omnipresent radio hit—they didn’t become an actual pop success until the final decade of Jerry Garcia’s life, with the 1987 single “Touch of Grey,” which, to the chagrin of veteran Deadheads, made them exponentially more popular. Pearl Jam, however, had tremendous radio play at the beginning of their career. Over the course of their first three albums, they were more like U2, in terms of mainstream ubiquity. And then they turned into a cult band buoyed by a passionate counterculture.

Imagine Bono evolving into Jerry Garcia. You can’t. It defies logic. And yet that approximates a rough sketch of Pearl Jam’s development in their first decade.

The fact is that Pearl Jam is an anomaly. Most bands start small and achieve their greatest success by their third or fourth album, after which they slowly come to rely more and more on revisiting, repackaging, and reissuing their most beloved music. But Pearl Jam became the biggest band in America within two years of forming in 1990, propelled by the monumental sales and cultural impact of one of the best-selling debut albums in history, Ten. And then they slowly, and deliberately, reinvented themselves, all while maintaining their level of success. Only that success—commercial and artistic—would come to be measured primarily by live shows instead of record sales and hit singles.

The result is a strange, incomparable duality—a band that plays stadiums while having almost no media profile; a mega-selling act who, for most of their history, has ignored and even antagonized corporate rock radio; a group of superstars who function like an underground act; a famous institution hiding in plain sight. Like I said, an anomaly.

The Beatles are the sixties rock band most often associated with the baby boomer generation. While they subsequently appealed to all generations, the Beatles come with a lore that flatters the grandiosity of the boomers—they are the greatest band, we’re told, and have been centered in media narratives about contemporary history (like so much of boomer culture) for the better part of sixty years. Pearl Jam, the band who willingly evaded the spotlight and now feels a little overlooked in discussions about the best American rock bands, is similarly definitional for Generation X, the “middle child” demographic that is definitely forgotten amid the endless conversations about boomers, millennials, and Zoomers. For the people who were in their teens and twenties when Pearl Jam first emerged in the nineties, they were a band that encompassed so many of our conflicting impulses—they sought attention but deplored overexposure; they craved community but also felt suffocated by it; they wanted the security of a career but suspected that it might be corrupting; they believed in the possibility of social change but wondered if such attempts were ultimately doomed.

I’m interested in all this: Pearl Jam’s utterly unique path, their unlikely survival and evolution, and how this reflects—and is shaped by—their generation and the times they have lived in. I should add that this journey down the “long road” of this band’s career is personal. I have not interviewed the band members for this book, mostly because a book composed of Pearl Jam’s thoughts on Pearl Jam—it’s called Pearl Jam Twenty, and it came out in 2011—has already been written. I am also, like I said, a music critic, which means I have the annoying (though hopefully endearing!) arrogance of a know-it-all who believes he can analyze and explain a band’s legacy better than the band members themselves. At the very least, I suspect I will enjoy analyzing and explaining Pearl Jam’s legacy more than they would.

Suiting the personal nature of this project, I’ve organized the book like a mixtape, with each chapter corresponding to a different song. The chapters are not only about those songs—they are simply an entry point for discussing an aspect of this band’s history. In many cases, I’ve chosen to focus on bootleg recordings, as I believe that what Pearl Jam has achieved onstage remains the most essential part of their work, even more than their studio albums.

I hope the mixtape structure conveys how I see this book—as a homemade act of love. As is true for all Pearl Jam fans, their music has been woven into the fabric of my life. Understanding this band is a way of comprehending my own history and, I believe, ourselves.


“Don’t let anyone call you Generation X, that’s bullshit. They can call you Generation Y, because you’re asking questions.”

—Eddie Vedder, onstage in Milwaukee in 1995



(6/20/95, Morrison, Colorado)

A Beautiful Night at Red Rocks • Robert Plant’s “Enjoy Cocaine” Pants Patch from 1972 • That Rolling Stone 1996 Hatchet Job of Eddie Vedder • Jordan Catalano • Reality Bites • Douglas Coupland’s Generation X • A Hit Song That Never Was

Matt Chamberlain, their second of five drummers, once likened playing with Pearl Jam to boxing with Mike Tyson.

Such was their extreme physicality as a live act. On early tours, they raced wildly back and forth onstage, like convicts drunk on fleeting freedom in the midst of a prison riot. Meanwhile their singer, Eddie Vedder, tempted permanent paralysis by hanging from the rafters dozens of feet above the stage, a hyperactive problem child acting out against parents powerless to stop him.

Mike Tyson’s strategy was based upon intimidation; he was the baddest man in the game, and this reputation defeated his opponents before the match even began. Once in the ring, he charged quickly and with tremendous aggression, a “shock and awe” tactic design to score an early knockout. Pearl Jam in the early nineties had a similar MO, but they also had endurance. If they somehow didn’t immediately overwhelm an audience, they would eventually wear them out.

But that Pearl Jam is no longer the band that is performing on this night at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Oh yes, Red Rocks. One of rock’s great cathedrals. It’s been said that the Ute tribe used to hold spiritual rituals there, decades before the theater was built in June 1941. It’s long had a draw for rock bands and rock fans in search of a mind-blowing musical experience. You’re in the mountains, closer to the clouds than the ground. You’re already high before a note has been played or any substances—some of which are now legal in Colorado—are consumed. A special place indeed. For many, a pilgrimage to Red Rocks is a rite of passage. For a rock band, playing there is a sign that you have reached an exalted status.

But for Pearl Jam on this night, playing at Red Rocks seems like a burden. Instead of bounding out in front of the nine thousand fans standing at attention as late afternoon turns to dusk, the band members stroll out lackadaisically, one by one, each at a different pace, as if in a daze. The audience roars anyway; they are prepared to throw the hammer down. (This is signified by someone literally waving a large inflatable hammer around near the stage for some reason.)

Each member carries out a metal folding chair and places it next to the others in a semicircle near the stage’s edge. Jeff Ament—the jockish bassist—sits first, holding a stand-up bass. Mike McCready—the brilliant and (for now) troubled lead guitarist—saunters up soon after, lighting a cigarette while readying his ax. Across the semicircle is the other guitarist, the band’s self-appointed devil’s advocate Stone Gossard, dressed in shorts that make him resemble a college RA. Behind them is Jack Irons, the band’s fourth drummer, a few months shy of lodging his first full year inside the Pearl Jam circus.

Finally, there’s the singer, Eddie, who is now also playing guitar. The purpose of this, presumably, is to make him seem more like “one of the guys.” Which is a strange thing for the most magnetic front man of his generation to be. Being “one of the guys” does not come naturally to Eddie Vedder.

When he sits down, he actually forgets his guitar. After fetching it from a stand in front of the drum kit, he is ready to address the assembled grunge congregation.

“Get comfortable,” he says, not quite invitingly. “We’re going to be here for a while.”

Pearl Jam at this very moment is touring in support of their third consecutive multiplatinum album, Vitalogy. But this isn’t a moment of triumph. Because Pearl Jam doesn’t resemble a world-conquering rock band. Instead, they’re set up onstage—to quote a song from their current hit LPlike “victims in demand for public show.”

Given the setting, it is hard not to contrast this scene with U2’s iconic Under a Blood Red Sky concert from a dozen years prior, in which Bono embraced the messianic theatrics of the rock singer handbook in a manner not dissimilar to Eddie Vedder back when Pearl Jam’s 1991 debut, Ten, was just starting to sell. When people think of Red Rocks, they typically pull up mental images from the music video for the live version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” included on Under a Blood Red Sky. The rain-soaked audience, the shadowy mountains on the horizon, those incredible flaming torches that ring the theater high above the audience. In truth, Red Rocks doesn’t look exactly like that all the time. How many bands, upon finally having an opportunity to headline Red Rocks, have been disappointed by the absence of those Game of Thrones–like flaming torches?

Under a Blood Red Sky is also on Vedder’s mind. During the previous night’s show at Red Rocks, he introduced a prickly new song, “Habit,” with a jokey nod to U2, deadpanning, “This is not a rebel song.”

Other ghosts linger. Almost exactly twenty-three years earlier—on June 21, 1972—Led Zeppelin had stormed Colorado, playing about twenty miles away from Red Rocks at a sold-out Denver Coliseum. In the mid-nineties, drawing a line connecting Zeppelin to Pearl Jam would have earned scorn from boomers and Gen Xers alike—scandalizing the former on the grounds of protecting the sanctity of their precious classic-rock heroes and the latter based on the younger generation’s resentment of those same inescapable FM radio warhorses.

But there are some crucial parallels between Pearl Jam and Zeppelin, starting with the incredible popularity of both bands. Going strictly by sales statistics, Pearl Jam in 1995 was actually more popular than Led Zeppelin in 1972. No rock band had ever sold nearly one million copies of an album in one week before Pearl Jam did it with Vs. in 1993. The following year, their third record, Vitalogy, moved nearly nine hundred thousand units in its opening week.

Ten still ranks among the best-selling albums of the era; in fact, it is one of the last mega-selling rock LPs ever, moving more than thirteen million units, a staggering number that seems even more astronomical the further we get from it. Popular music culture now is several decades removed from a time when it was even possible for a band like Pearl Jam to have a hit as enormous as Ten, an album that in the nineties went beyond being a mere phenomenon with scores of radio singles to becoming its own genre of music. Ten inadvertently invented dozens of other bands who also went platinum, only because people loved what Pearl Jam was doing that much.

In those years, Pearl Jam’s music and influence were everywhere. Their biggest songs define the era—“Alive,” “Even Flow,” “Jeremy,” “Daughter,” “Rearviewmirror,” “Better Man,” “Corduroy,” “Not for You.” And then there’s Eddie Vedder, whose fame as the most emulated rock singer in the world dwarfed his band. Vedder’s decidedly unglamorous sartorial sense—brown shirt, brown corduroy jacket, dark shorts, Dr. Martens boots—inspired a fashion fad. His darkly handsome features and enigmatic personality spawned hunky antiheroes on television (like Jared Leto’s Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life) and film (Ethan Hawke’s character in Reality Bites). His confrontational persona—against the music industry, vapid consumerist culture, and even his own stardom—eventually landed him on the cover of Time magazine, a stamp of institutional approval in the waning days of pre-internet media.

Pearl Jam responded to their unprecedented success by shutting out the media and staying off television, a policy also followed by Zeppelin in their prime. But in Zeppelin’s case, this media blackout created an indelible mystique. People liked that they were inaccessible. They appreciated how the band members didn’t seem like regular people. Zeppelin was an enigmatic canvas on to which the audience projected their fantasies. An X-rated Lord of the Rings.

For instance, here’s an excerpt from a review of Zeppelin’s Denver ’72 gig, printed in a local alt-weekly:

Lead vocalist Robert Plant, tall, built like an Olympic swimmer, with a voice like a siren is Led Zeppelin’s sex symbol. Wearing blue jeans, with a jet plane patch on his arse, an “Enjoy Cocaine” patch sewed to his inner thigh, and a white crescent across his fly, he sped from one end of the stage to the other, like a wild stud in heat bucking, whirling yet with the styling grace of a professional dancer.

When Pearl Jam first broke, they also had mystique. But nobody called them bucking wild studs because rock culture had moved beyond all that overripe “sex god” stuff. In fact, rock culture had been building toward a band like Pearl Jam for some time. They were the perfect bridge act, the one group capable of marrying rock’s otherwise incompatible halves—the old-world dinosaur rock deities from the sixties and seventies like Zeppelin and the Who, and the eighties indie-rock underclass that stood in opposition to Zeppelin and their brethren. They aspired to what Matt Cameron, their fifth drummer, later dubbed “punk-rock arena rock,” more approachable than the typical punk band and more human than the classic-rock behemoths. A band that could be “alternative” and also sell as many records as the top pop acts. In retrospect, it was a phenomenon that could have only existed in the nineties, a decade in which the twentieth century both culminated and began to fade away.

The ways in which Pearl Jam succeeded and failed at being that bridge band defines their career, in the nineties and beyond. In the early part of the decade, they had perfect timing, turning out the kinds of songs—larger-than-life chest beaters that felt like intensely personal missives from a very relatable yet also extremely good-looking man—at the precise moment when the rock audience craved exactly that. And not only did they want Pearl Jam, they also wanted lots of bands that did the same thing Pearl Jam did except in a dumber, less insightful way.1

By 1995, however, fate had seemingly turned against them. Three years earlier, Pearl Jam had been the right band for the moment. But the winds had shifted. Now, they were facing a backlash fueled by the hang-ups of two different generations.

From baby boomers came the inevitable accusations that Pearl Jam was simply rehashing what their bands had done twenty years earlier, which meant they could never be authentic. “He is supposed to stand for being the antistar, the one who is against all this privileged treatment,” Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner once said of Eddie Vedder. “Well, in my view he is just a very, very wealthy, very spoiled guy.”

In 1996, Wenner’s magazine published a notorious hatchet piece against Vedder, right when the band’s commercial fortunes started to slip upon the release of their fourth album, No Code. The article was what journalists refer to as a “write-around,” which is a magazine profile written without the participation of the subject. In this case, the magazine fixated on that very noninvolvement—the hostility over Vedder’s anti-media hostility was palpable in every word of their cover story. Rolling Stone alleged that Eddie Vedder actually wasn’t the tortured spokesman of a generation, but rather an opportunist and huckster who in high school was a popular and happy-go-lucky (here’s the worst sin of all) theater kid.2

The implication of the Rolling Stone article couldn’t be clearer: This guy isn’t for real. Never mind that Wenner had made his magazine’s fortune on the backs of other “frauds” from his own generation. Free-spirited Woody Guthrie acolyte Bob Dylan was really just a nice Jewish boy from Minnesota named Robert Zimmerman. Blues-rock sex god Mick Jagger was a former economics student. Working-class hero John Lennon had a relatively well-to-do childhood. Outlaw penis-waver Jim Morrison was the son of a navy admiral. Neil Young complained often about his own success, but he always dutifully returned to CSNY for another payday. Similarly, Pete Townshend, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen foregrounded their own misgivings about mainstream popularity in their songs, all while continuing to rake in millions.

Yes, Eddie Vedder had his contradictions, but those contradictions were nothing new for a person in his position. They were inherent to rock superstardom long before Pearl Jam.3

But as bad as the boomers could be, Pearl Jam had an even harder time with their own people, the Gen Xers. Pearl Jam is the ultimate Generation X band precisely because so many Gen Xers have had problems with them.4 From the beginning, Pearl Jam was pilloried by Gen X music critics as sellouts, bandwagon jumpers, overheated arena rockers, and hopelessly middle-of-the-road poseurs. Even when they were undoubtedly the most popular band in the world, they were dismissed as shallow and irrelevant, a flash-in-the-pan fad.

Most generations are highly parochial; they tend to believe that their culture—the music, the movies, the terrible kiddie TV shows—is the best. But many Gen Xers seemed to believe that their culture was worse, along with everything else about their lot in life. Some of this was conditioning from boomers, who never failed to reiterate that their kids had missed the boat on rock ’n’ roll, free love, fun drugs, and all the other earthly delights of their youth. But the profound media saturation that permeated the lives of Gen Xers from the cradle onward made them prone to extreme reflexiveness about pretty much everything. They—we—are people who constantly second-guess ourselves. Is this impulse healthy? Is my analyzing of this impulse healthy? If I am aware that I am analyzing what is supposed to be a natural feeling, can it really be natural? Can anything be natural? Is all of this fake? These mind games were endless in the nineties.

Douglas Coupland’s landmark 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture—from which the name for the people born in the mid-sixties up through 1980 derives—is loaded with pithy, semi-jokey terms that all describe the same thing: historical underdosing, successphobia, underdogging, terminal wanderlust. This was a generation for which “success” as a concept was met with skepticism about whether it really equated with true happiness. And yet, at the same time, Gen Xers craved the security and status of boomers. It was a mindset engineered to guarantee dissatisfaction and anxiety.

They—we—instinctually identified with the underdog while also recognizing that willful loserdom was a pose that only the idle rich could afford. Gen Xers wanted it all, and also distrusted those desires, prompting us to lash out at those who managed to achieve anything. This point of view, at least in the press, doomed Pearl Jam. But it also pit at least one person inside Pearl Jam against Pearl Jam since he was wired the same way as his peers.

Eddie Vedder was doubly cursed with both the contradictions of a rock star and the contradictions of his generation. In the spring of 1995—perhaps as an act of penance, and certainly as a way to “hide” while making a show of “hiding”—he toured with Mike Watt, formerly of unimpeachable eighties indie band, the Minutemen.5 Each night, Vedder would sing “Against the 70’s,” a warning about the dangers of dead-end nostalgia and a pep talk for young people dragged down by the “you shoulda been there!” hectoring of their parents: “Baby boomers selling you rumors of their history,” Eddie sang. “Forcing youth away from the truth of what’s real today.”

But many in Watt’s audience did not see Vedder as “real.” This made the tour, at times, a painful experience for him. “It was really great until the middle, and then I think I couldn’t handle it,” he reflected years later. “There were people throwing coins in Chicago—Minutemen fans who didn’t want to see a corporate-rock-band guy on the same stage as Watt. And I was frustrated. I was thinking, ‘I’m supporting your guy; he’s my hero too.’ Goddamn.”

Yes, he was frustrated, but Vedder couldn’t resist adding a typically self-defeating Gen Xer–style addendum. “I understand where they’re coming from. I might have been one to throw the coin myself.”

By the time of the Red Rocks concerts, Pearl Jam had reached a breaking point. Their life as a band had grown increasingly chaotic and incomprehensible, with triumphs commingling with tragedies. In 1994, they visited the White House the day after Kurt Cobain’s body was found. Later that year, they put out one of their best and most popular albums, Vitalogy, and nearly ripped themselves apart in the process. Dave Abbruzzese, their third drummer, was fired that August; Stone Gossard delivered the news, though Abbruzzese’s tensions were mainly with Vedder. He apparently hated that Abbruzzese agreed to appear on the cover of Modern Drummer during a media blackout he had imposed on the band, the most Spinal Tap–like detail to this most Spinal Tap–like subplot of the Pearl Jam story.

The other main conflict in the band was between Gossard, whose original demos had formed the basis of Pearl Jam’s debut Ten and basically invented their career, and Vedder, the irreplaceable singer and leading man. The power balance in Pearl Jam inevitably, irrevocably shifted in a bloodless coup. Stone had to give up control to Eddie so that the band could survive. That McCready was deep enough into booze and cocaine to require rehab somehow was among their lesser problems.

Unbeknownst to the band, there were also unseen forces that would eventually conspire against them. One month before Vitalogy came out, a band of Adidas-wearing funk-metal mooks named Korn released their self-titled debut. It took more than two years to go platinum—as opposed to two weeks for Vitalogy—but by then the nü-metal movement Korn spearheaded had completely taken over rock music, kicking grunge and post-grunge and anyone else sporting soul-patches and flannel to the curb. Also around the time of Vitalogy


  • **Rolling Stone, "Best Music Books of 2022"**

    **Corbin Reiff at SPIN, "Best Rock Biography of the Year (2022)"**

    Aquarian, "Holiday Guide for the Rock & Roll Literate*
  • “Steven Hyden is a brilliant rock chronicler, whether he’s writing about great bands or terrible ones. But with LONG ROAD, as Eddie Vedder would say, he’s unleashed a lion.”—Rolling Stone
  • "[The] best rock biography [of 2022]... Steven Hyden has all the answers [to Pearl Jam] and delivers them with the kind of wittily insightful analysis you only get from an obsessed fan and expert critic.”—Corbin Reiff, SPIN
  • “A comprehensive look from the perspective of a devoted (if not sometimes concerned) fan, this book is organized like Hyden’s favorite Pearl Jam mixtape, into chapters corresponding to a specific song and then elaborating from there, taking the reader to many fascinating, surprising places that aren’t well-known about the Seattle icons."—SPIN
  • "[Long Road is]... clear-eyed about Pearl Jam’s strengths and weaknesses, but also quite personal, the author infusing his own memories of coming of age at a time when Vs. and Vitalogy provided the soundtrack. The book wrestles with the question of why Pearl Jam mattered — and why, to some, they still very much do.”—Inside Hook
  • “In LONG ROAD, [Steven] Hyden gives almost an autobiographical history of Pearl Jam from the fan's perspective, from the early albums, to their shying away from the spotlight, through their embrace of playing unforgettable live shows in front of their increasingly fanatical fanbase.” 
  • “Must-read… There is no one writing about music with more passion and intellect than Steven Hyden." 
     —The Film Stage
  • “Through smart but accessible writing full of stories, asides, opinions and analysis, Hyden makes a compelling case for why Pearl Jam’s music matters….A joyous, thought-provoking and humane series of essays.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • "A personal approach and valuable critical companion that does a great job of contextualizing the band's various life cycles."—Wisconsin Public Radio
  • “One of the most entertaining summations of what a rock band can do to one’s soul whether we like to admit it or not.” 


  • “Reading Long Road feels as if you’re in an endlessly engrossing conversation about Pearl Jam with a fellow admirer.”—Toronto Star
  • "[Hyden has] penned a thoroughly compelling book about Pearl Jam.”—Q101
  • "A critical consideration of one of rock’s most durable and inscrutable acts... A music biography well suited to fans of both the band and 1990s pop culture."

  • "Steven Hyden’s Long Road takes us well beyond the Pearl Jam story that has been rehashed for decades. He argues that the most commercially successful band of the alt-rock era is fundamentally misunderstood, and then he backs up that assertion with chapter after chapter packed with insights and fresh context. In this rock bio-as-mixtape configuration, the prose is as much impressionistic as linear, a format that suits a band that has figured out how to reinvent and improvise its way to hard-earned longevity."—Greg Kot, Sound Opinions co-host
  • “As a die-hard and nearly life-long Pearl Jam fan, I cannot recommend Long Road enough.  It is an essential perspective on one of the world’s greatest bands with incredibly heartfelt insight from Steven Hyden.”—Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

On Sale
Sep 27, 2022
Page Count
288 pages
Hachette Books

Steven Hyden

About the Author

Steven Hyden is the author of This Isn’t Happening, Twilight of the GodsYour Favorite Band Is Killing Me, and (with Steve Gorman) Hard to Handle. His writing has appeared in the New York Times MagazineWashington PostBillboardPitchforkRolling StoneGrantlandThe A.V. ClubSlate, and Salon. He is currently the cultural critic at UPROXX. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two children.

Learn more about this author