The Tragedy Behind Eddie Vedder’s Lyrics Of Pearl Jam Song ‘Jeremy’

Many rock songs have deeper meanings or significant sources of inspiration, which their audience may not grasp initially. Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy,‘ which was released in 1992 as the third single from their debut album, ‘Ten,’ is one of those tracks since it has a tragic backstory that hits you once you know its details.

Decades ago, the lead singer Eddie Vedder was highly moved and touched by an article in a newspaper related to a 15-year-old boy and he wanted to immortalize the incident so that everybody could remember that devastating day, January 8, 1991. Let’s dive into the details of that heartbreaking incident and how it influenced Vedder to write ‘Jeremy.’

Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ Has A Devastating Backstory

The main inspiration behind ‘Jeremy‘ came from a newspaper article about a 15-year-old boy named Jeremy Wade Delle who shot himself in front of his teacher and his second-period English class of 30 students on the morning of January 8, 1991.

The little kid was described as real quiet by his schoolmates, and many said he always looked sad. After coming into the class the late morning of January 8, Delle was told to get an admittance slip from the school office. The little boy left the classroom and returned with a gun, and he shot himself in front of the classroom.

The article related to this unbelievably tragic incident deeply affected Eddie Vedder. After reading what had happened, the musician wanted to immortalize this incident. During an old interview, the rocker stated that the song explores the meaning of suicide and the importance of holding on to life, despite of how hard things might get.

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-four degrees and cloudy in a suburban neighborhood. That’s the beginning of the video, and that’s the same thing 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.”

While this story is already very heartbreaking, Vedder actually has another experience similar to this one that’s related to the song; let’s take a look.

Eddie Vedder Has Another Story For The Song

‘Jeremy’ is actually based on two different real-life stories. The second story of the song involves a student named Brian that Eddie Vedder knew from his junior high school in San Diego, California. That student didn’t kill himself but committed a school shooting during which he ended up shooting up an oceanography room.

About the second story, Vedder said:

“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 in 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.”

You can listen to ‘Jeremy’ below.