Editor’s note: “Rearviewmirror” is not a one-hit wonder. It’s just a fantastic song with a great guitar riff that is connected to an unlikely one-hit wonder.
It’s every guitarist’s dream to write a killer riff. Pearl Jam nailed one with “Rearviewmirror” from their 1993 release, Vs. It’s so catchy, in fact, that lead singer Eddie Vedder was reluctant to record the song and ended up agreeing to sing the song only on the last day of recordings for the hit album. And Vs. was a big hit.
At the time of its release, grunge rock was at the apex of its popularity. Nirvana’s Nevermind had been purchased by virtually every American teenager. Pearl Jam’s debut, Ten, was a smash hit based on the hits “Alive,” “Evenflow” and “Jeremy.” Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder were being touted as the voices of the new blank generation.
But Vs.. topped them all, selling nearly 1 million copies the week it was released. That record stood for a few years until NSYNC and Backstreet Boys each sold more than 1 million CDs in a single week (that never happens anymore in the MP3 era).
History aside, the opening guitar riff of “Rearviewmirror” is deservedly bouncing around my head today. It’s a powerful track from my favorite Pearl Jam record. And though I love the riff, I’m not certain it’s an original. In fact, I’m pretty sure Eddie Vedder stole it from Rush and their 1982 one-hit wonder, “New World Man” from Signals.
Don’t believe me? Listen to the introduction to both songs side by side and you be judge.