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Music Moment – Elderly Woman Behind the Counter…[Music]

As one of the main bands to bring the early 90s Seattle sound – aka Grunge – to the mainstream, Pearl Jam has always been a constant member of my many playlists. Their sound is unique, recognizable, and their songs always feel as if they’re painting a mood or telling a story.

One of my favorite songs of theirs is Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. To me, it falls into both categories. It’s a story song, giving the listener a glimpse into the life of an elderly woman living in a small town, probably spent her entire life working in the same old diner, and realizing the one of her customers is an old acquaintance who just returned to town. Older waitress in a diner

At the same time, the lyrics invoke a mood of melancholy. It’s a song of missed opportunity, regret, lost chances, and resignation. Yet, does the old woman really regret her life, or is she simply accepting her fate?

Eddie Vedder, the lead singer and lyricist for the band, also has a unique voice. His style reminds me of Jim Morrison, the late singer for The Doors. There’s a rawness, a natural flow, to the words. They aren’t necessarily traditional in the rhythms or rhyme schemes, and they have a rawness that appeals to me.

Here are the lyrics. Give them a read, then check out the video link that follows. The song is a brilliant mesh or words and music, evoking a scene that is bittersweet and touching.

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town

I seem to recognize your face
Haunting, familiar, yet I can’t seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me

All these changes taking place, I wish I’d seen the place
But no one’s ever taken me
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…

I swear I recognize your breath
Memories like fingerprints are slowly raising
Me, you wouldn’t recall, for I’m not my former
It’s hard when, you’re stuck upon the shelf

I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate
Perhaps that’s what no one wants to see
I just want to scream…hello…

My god its been so long, never dreamed you’d return
But now here you are, and here I am
Hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…

Hearts and thoughts they fade…away
Hearts and thoughts they fade…away

Lyrics and Music by Pearl Jam



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