Pearl Jam’s Dance of the Clairvoyants: the meaning of the lyrics

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A song that has shocked everybody: cards are shuffled, sonorities are different, lyrics are philosophical. Nobody was expecting this by a song from Pearl Jam but they, after having written the grunge scene in the 90’s and having crossed the 2000 with their essential rock, hard and pure, can afford this and beyond.

And here they give us a pearl, a raid into electronic music that dissatisfies the most purist fans, but that attracts with its rhythm and its hypnotic lyrics.

Musicians switch their instruments, and Eddie Vedder with his biting voice makes us think about our individualism, on the relativism that is now part of us, and sets each other apart.

Confusing it is to commotion
What love is to our devotion
Imperceptibly big
As big as the ocean
And equally hard to control

Tiny as we are, against the immensity of nature, of the universe, which is not controllable by us, we are moved by an equally uncontrollable strength: love.

So save your predictions
And burn your assumptions
Love is friction
Ripe for comfort
Endless equations
And tugging persuasions
Doors open up
To interpretation

What we know, or we think we know, is lost: love defeats our beliefs and leads us to thoughts and actions we never imagined before.

Expecting perfection
Leaves a lot to ignore
When the past is the present
And the future’s no more
When every tomorrow
Is the same as before

We expect perfection, even in our interpersonal relationships, we never want to compromise, as concentrated as we are on ourselves, on the here and now. But is this really not making us lose something? To surrender to something different from what we have imagined, would really be wrong? It might be offering a future scenario which could be different from our present, that is our only term of comparison.

The looser things get
The tighter you become
The looser things get
Not one man can be greater than the sun
It’s not a negative thought
But positive, positive, positive
Falling down, not staying down
Coulda held me up, rather tear me down
Drown in the river

We are small in the universe, we must acknowledge it, serenely: we can’t affect life’s flowing, we can’t be greater than the sun. But this, following Eddie, is not a negative thought: maybe letting ourselves go more, we could suffer less. To be more compliant towards others, could help us to live better.

Numbers keep falling off the calendar’s floor
We’re stuck in our boxes
When it’s open no more
Could’ve lifted up they’re forgetting us
Not recalling what they’re for
I’m in love with clairvoyants
‘Cause they’re out of this world

Time flows around us without us noticing, closed in our boxes. The clairvoyants, creatures on the border between reality and paranormal, who live seeing the future: they are out of this egocentric world, projected in their dreamlike dimension. But who are these clairvoyants? Here is the answer.

I know the girls wanna dance
Fall away their circumstance
I know the boys wanna grow
Their dicks, and fix and file things
I know the girls wanna dance
Clairvoyants in a trance
I know the boys wanna grow 
Their dicks and fix and file things

Men come from Mars, women from Venus: girls want to be fickle, to dance and forget their problems: clairvoyants in a trance, they let their selves got with the stream and they are the door to the future. Boys are concentrated on the same obsession, and on their habits. How to put them in touch?

Stand back when the spirit comes

By surrendering, not facing the spirit that overwhelms us: by opening up to the future, to life’s flowing, to love that guides all of this.

Stand back when the spirit comes
Stand back when the spirit comes

This song, very much criticized for its sounds (unusual for Pearl Jam, but absolutely modern), is an invite to live asking ourselves maybe less questions, giving ourselves less limits and prejudices, abandoning more to the stream of life that, anyway, is destined to catch us and bring us into our future.

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