Hard to Imagine: Meaning or Inspiration

The fist time I heard to Hard to Imagine was when a friend gave me "Lost Dogs" as a gift two Christmas'/Hannakua's ago.

What an incredible song..
The soul he puts into that song, When he belts out the refrain gives me chills.

I have wondered when the song was released..
and if it was born of post 9-11 feelings..

It' so appropraitely fits, but then again-alot they produce appropriately fits in ways so many of us can relate to..

Thoughts or facts welcome..
Post edited by Unknown User on

Comments

  • TremormanTremorman Posts: 264
    I can see how one can link it to 9/11 but actually that song was lent to the Chicago Cab movie soundtrack in the mid nineties (1995?), and I think it was written around the Versus era but I'm sure someone else will have more specific dates. Anyway I love the song, has a great build to it. Ed starts it as a whisper in the first verse which is appropriate because "no one listens at all" and then it builds and builds and he just goes for it. One that I was happy to see included on Lost Dogs and one I hope will return to setlists in the up coming tours.
  • darthvedder88darthvedder88 Posts: 1,023
    I think it's about a person who has had a serious grudge against someone else, and then the two get together, and they're reminiscing about that past and they're trying to learn forgiveness for eachother.
    "Darth Vader would say 'Impressive'."

    -Eddie Vedder

    6/24/06 Cincinatti, Ohio
    6/14/08 Manchester, Tennessee
  • I think "Hard to Imagine" is a song about mental rehabilitation. "After having seen what they saw, it's hard to imagine." Brings to mind a war vet readjusting to civilian life. "Things were different then, all is different now" To me, makes me think of returning to a life that cannot be returned to, but that specific lyric has many applications. There's ton's of other stuff in the song to support my THEORY. But it's just an opinion. It is one hell of a powerful song, and I too would very much like to see it performed live.
    Two birds is what they'll see,
    getting lost along their way/
    There's alot to be said for nowhere.
  • Tremorman wrote:
    I can see how one can link it to 9/11 but actually that song was lent to the Chicago Cab movie soundtrack in the mid nineties (1995?), and I think it was written around the Versus era but I'm sure someone else will have more specific dates. Anyway I love the song, has a great build to it. Ed starts it as a whisper in the first verse which is appropriate because "no one listens at all" and then it builds and builds and he just goes for it. One that I was happy to see included on Lost Dogs and one I hope will return to setlists in the up coming tours.

    I have a 5 Against 1 Casste Tape, which is the VS Demos, I think, But Hard to Imagine is on there.
    Life reveals what is dealt through seasons
    Circle comes around each time
  • whoYOUarewhoYOUare Posts: 274
    definately a great song and one that i hope gets played this coming tour... especially at my shows... i would die a happy man.
    peace
  • lost dogs list it as a Vs outtake.

    i'd say it was written around the Vs sessions or tour although it may not have surfaced until the soundtrack.

    i think i remember seeing an original tracklist to Vs. with hard to imagine on it as well.

    this song should be played more often. (or at all) along with:

    off he goes
    in hiding
    parting ways
    NAIS
    light years
    sleight of hand
    thin air

    and lots more..
    Come on pilgrim you know he loves you..

    http://www.wishlistfoundation.org

    Oh my, they dropped the leash.



    Morgan Freeman/Clint Eastwood 08' for President!

    "Make our day"
  • What does Ed mean in the Lost Dogs booklet when he says "A frequently held sign by fans over the years."?
    Riverside.. LA.. California. EV?
  • What does Ed mean in the Lost Dogs booklet when he says "A frequently held sign by fans over the years."?

    A frequently held sign over the years at concerts. Fans often hold signs up of songs that they want to hear. Hard to Imagine has only been played live a handful of times so fans hold signs up in the hope the band will see it and then play the song!
    +--+-Official Upcoming Australasian Tour:Member #9-+--+
  • A frequently held sign over the years at concerts. Fans often hold signs up of songs that they want to hear. Hard to Imagine has only been played live a handful of times so fans hold signs up in the hope the band will see it and then play the song!
    and goddamnit they clearly know we want it why won't they give it to us!? :)
    Come on pilgrim you know he loves you..

    http://www.wishlistfoundation.org

    Oh my, they dropped the leash.



    Morgan Freeman/Clint Eastwood 08' for President!

    "Make our day"
  • oh btw, mike said that. sorry.
    Riverside.. LA.. California. EV?
  • Gotta listen to that tune today, perhaps I can come up with an interpretation later.
    Well, do you need a lot of what you've got to survive?
  • I always thought of the songs as about looking back and talking about on all the magicial times and no seems to understand how something so small could mean so much.
    tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
    Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz
    tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
    Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets
    T0J0: wtf is nukes?
    T0J0: holy sh1tholysh!thoylshti!!!111
    *T0J0 has been eliminated.*

    http://db.etree.org/PearlJamaholic
  • I always thought of the songs as about looking back and talking about on all the magicial times and no seems to understand how something so small could mean so much.
    Thats exactly how the song feels to me... i haven't really gone on a length interpreting that one.. but thats how it feels.
    Come on pilgrim you know he loves you..

    http://www.wishlistfoundation.org

    Oh my, they dropped the leash.



    Morgan Freeman/Clint Eastwood 08' for President!

    "Make our day"
  • igotid_8igotid_8 Cleveland, OhioPosts: 480
    Ok, this is an old thread, but I wanted to bring it back. Always wondered why the lyrics changed from the Chicago Cab soundtrack to the Lost Dogs version. Anyone?
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  • Maybe because things were different then:)... perhaps the producers of the movie had something to do with content? That's all I got.....it's a great song regardless
    The future's paved....with better days
  • inmyNCinmyNC amongst manyPosts: 243
    Unsure what that song means to Eddie but it sure feels good to play it at a acoustic open mic!!
  • lolobugglolobugg BLUE RDGE MTNSPosts: 7,965
    I always thought it was about a holocaust survivor.
    also I am guilty of holding that sign up in 1998. I eventually worked!!!

    livefootsteps.org/user/?usr=446

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    1996- Charleston, SC

    1998- Atlanta, GA: Birmingham, AL: Greenville, SC: Knoxville, TN

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    2004- Asheville, NC (hometown show)

    2006- Cincinnati, OH

    2008- Columbia, SC

    2009- Chicago, IL x 2 / Ed Ved- Atlanta, GA x 2

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    2017- ED VED- Louisville, KY

    2018- Chicago, IL x2, Boston, MA x2

  • PapPap Aspra Spitia, GreecePosts: 22,376
    edited April 2016
    I always thought it's about growing up, trying at the same time to hold on to your innocence ("In My Tree" pops into my mind). I could even see those two as a sequel: People stop (psychologically) supporting you as you grow old - it seems really hard to even offer you a good wish and be truly happy for you (I tell a story no one listens that long), lose their moral principles, become totally alienated, mean and hard-hearted, and forget all about what honest friendship or love means. To put it simply, people like giving fellow human beings really hard times. And that's just because we're living in a corrupted - all about money and power - society resembling more to jungle - even though nature (as its own religion) has managed to "function" properly ("Animal" and the line I'd rather be with an animal comes to mind). So finally, what remains is you trying to explain the whole thing (reality / life and the principles that govern it (it's an Inside Job today), and wishing that by offering an explanation (either to yourself or all the persons involved in a shitty situation like the one described in "Hard To Imagine") it's somehow going to ease your pain and even lead to reconciliation. But because I wave to all my friends and they don't seem to notice me, I'm going to tell them that I still got it (my inner sense and innocence and so I'm going to live the rest of my life in harmony and peace with myself). The overall message - as in most songs of the PJ catalogue (I know it sounds oxymoron but it's true) - is the positive attitude (how to turn a bad time ("Given To Fly") into something productive (after all one could say that Pearl Jam songs are mostly pessimistic or sad tunes - why let the sad songs play? - but the truth is that at the end they leave you with the positive feeling of hope) of forgiving (I will forgive but won't forget - "Rearviewmirror") and moving on ("Do The Evolution" in a more political and sarcastic way), allowing yourself to evolve and make it to the Other Side.
    Post edited by Pap on
    Ooh, yeah! All right!
    Were [Pearl] jammin
    I wanna [Pearl] jam it wid you.
    Were [Pearl] jammin, [Pearl] jammin
    And I hope you like [Pearl] jammin too.

    Sep 30, 2006 - OAKA Sports Hall - Athens, Greece
    Jul 11, 2014 - Milton Keynes Bowl - Milton Keynes, UK
  • Pap said:

    I always thought it's about growing up, trying at the same time to hold on to your innocence ("In My Tree" pops into my mind). I could even see those two as a sequel: People stop (psychologically) supporting you as you grow old - it seems really hard to even offer you a good wish and be truly happy for you (a tell a story no one listens that long), lose their moral principles, become totally alienated, mean and hard-hearted, and forget all about what honest friendship or love means. To put it simply, people like giving fellow human beings really hard times. And that's just because we're living in a corrupted - all about money and power - society resembling more to jungle - even though nature (as its own religion) has managed to "function" properly ("Animal" and the line I'd rather be with an animal comes to mind). So finally, what remains is you trying to explain the whole thing (reality / life and the principles that govern it (it's an Inside Job today), and wishing that by offering an explanation (either to yourself or all the persons involved in a shitty situation like the one described in "Hard To Imagine") it's somehow going to ease your pain and even lead to reconciliation. But because I wave to all my friends and they don't seem to notice me, I'm going to tell them that I still got it (my inner sense and innocence and so I'm going to live the rest of my life in harmony and peace with myself). The overall message - as in most songs of the PJ catalogue (I know it sounds oxymoron but it's true) - is the positive attitude (how to turn a bad time ("Given To Fly") into something productive (after all one could say that Pearl Jam songs are most pessimistic or sad tunes - why let the sad songs play? - but the truth is that at the end they leave you with the positive feeling of hope) of forgiving (I will forgive but won't forget - "Rearviewmirror") and moving on ("Do The Evolution" in a more political and sarcastic way), allowing yourself to evolve and make it to the Other Side.

    That was an amazing interpretation
    The future's paved....with better days
  • This song makes me think of growing up as well. I think of the places and situations that I thought I was going to be part of. Many things did happen in exactly the way I expected, many did not. Great things happened and new "highs" were reached. Terrible things occured and I descended but life keeps going and these things that I never thought I would go through ended up shaping who I am more than any of the stuff that I wanted to happen. So it was hard to imagine the person that I would become and even harder to imagine how I would get there....that is my personal "thought process" when I hear this song,and that's what it means to me, hopefully people can relate to that feeling
    The future's paved....with better days
  • PapPap Aspra Spitia, GreecePosts: 22,376

    Pap said:

    I always thought it's about growing up, trying at the same time to hold on to your innocence ("In My Tree" pops into my mind). I could even see those two as a sequel: People stop (psychologically) supporting you as you grow old - it seems really hard to even offer you a good wish and be truly happy for you (a tell a story no one listens that long), lose their moral principles, become totally alienated, mean and hard-hearted, and forget all about what honest friendship or love means. To put it simply, people like giving fellow human beings really hard times. And that's just because we're living in a corrupted - all about money and power - society resembling more to jungle - even though nature (as its own religion) has managed to "function" properly ("Animal" and the line I'd rather be with an animal comes to mind). So finally, what remains is you trying to explain the whole thing (reality / life and the principles that govern it (it's an Inside Job today), and wishing that by offering an explanation (either to yourself or all the persons involved in a shitty situation like the one described in "Hard To Imagine") it's somehow going to ease your pain and even lead to reconciliation. But because I wave to all my friends and they don't seem to notice me, I'm going to tell them that I still got it (my inner sense and innocence and so I'm going to live the rest of my life in harmony and peace with myself). The overall message - as in most songs of the PJ catalogue (I know it sounds oxymoron but it's true) - is the positive attitude (how to turn a bad time ("Given To Fly") into something productive (after all one could say that Pearl Jam songs are most pessimistic or sad tunes - why let the sad songs play? - but the truth is that at the end they leave you with the positive feeling of hope) of forgiving (I will forgive but won't forget - "Rearviewmirror") and moving on ("Do The Evolution" in a more political and sarcastic way), allowing yourself to evolve and make it to the Other Side.

    That was an amazing interpretation
    Thank you!
    Ooh, yeah! All right!
    Were [Pearl] jammin
    I wanna [Pearl] jam it wid you.
    Were [Pearl] jammin, [Pearl] jammin
    And I hope you like [Pearl] jammin too.

    Sep 30, 2006 - OAKA Sports Hall - Athens, Greece
    Jul 11, 2014 - Milton Keynes Bowl - Milton Keynes, UK
  • Pap said:

    Pap said:

    I always thought it's about growing up, trying at the same time to hold on to your innocence ("In My Tree" pops into my mind). I could even see those two as a sequel: People stop (psychologically) supporting you as you grow old - it seems really hard to even offer you a good wish and be truly happy for you (a tell a story no one listens that long), lose their moral principles, become totally alienated, mean and hard-hearted, and forget all about what honest friendship or love means. To put it simply, people like giving fellow human beings really hard times. And that's just because we're living in a corrupted - all about money and power - society resembling more to jungle - even though nature (as its own religion) has managed to "function" properly ("Animal" and the line I'd rather be with an animal comes to mind). So finally, what remains is you trying to explain the whole thing (reality / life and the principles that govern it (it's an Inside Job today), and wishing that by offering an explanation (either to yourself or all the persons involved in a shitty situation like the one described in "Hard To Imagine") it's somehow going to ease your pain and even lead to reconciliation. But because I wave to all my friends and they don't seem to notice me, I'm going to tell them that I still got it (my inner sense and innocence and so I'm going to live the rest of my life in harmony and peace with myself). The overall message - as in most songs of the PJ catalogue (I know it sounds oxymoron but it's true) - is the positive attitude (how to turn a bad time ("Given To Fly") into something productive (after all one could say that Pearl Jam songs are most pessimistic or sad tunes - why let the sad songs play? - but the truth is that at the end they leave you with the positive feeling of hope) of forgiving (I will forgive but won't forget - "Rearviewmirror") and moving on ("Do The Evolution" in a more political and sarcastic way), allowing yourself to evolve and make it to the Other Side.

    That was an amazing interpretation
    Thank you!
    No thank you, I really enjoyed reading it and it made think differently on a couple of other songs you mentioned. It's a great thing to be able to speak our minds amongst people with similar thoughts and passions.
    The future's paved....with better days
  • PapPap Aspra Spitia, GreecePosts: 22,376
    ^ I'm glad you enjoyed my interpretation. It felt like a moment of enlightenment when I was writing it. I was on fire. :lightbulb:
    Ooh, yeah! All right!
    Were [Pearl] jammin
    I wanna [Pearl] jam it wid you.
    Were [Pearl] jammin, [Pearl] jammin
    And I hope you like [Pearl] jammin too.

    Sep 30, 2006 - OAKA Sports Hall - Athens, Greece
    Jul 11, 2014 - Milton Keynes Bowl - Milton Keynes, UK
  • ^ that's awesome, when you touched on a "sad or pessimistic song" that leaves you feeling positive is probably one of the better descriptions that anyone could have for pearl jams music to me!
    The future's paved....with better days
  • amethgr8amethgr8 Posts: 718
    edited April 2016
    Born of the Vs. era, they set records with that album. They crossed a line they couldn't go back.

    But yea, more elaborate and articulate interpretations are here. Just my 2cents
    Post edited by amethgr8 on
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  • PapPap Aspra Spitia, GreecePosts: 22,376

    ^ that's awesome, when you touched on a "sad or pessimistic song" that leaves you feeling positive is probably one of the better descriptions that anyone could have for pearl jams music to me!

    Thank you for your kind words! It means a lot to me! :smiley:
    Ooh, yeah! All right!
    Were [Pearl] jammin
    I wanna [Pearl] jam it wid you.
    Were [Pearl] jammin, [Pearl] jammin
    And I hope you like [Pearl] jammin too.

    Sep 30, 2006 - OAKA Sports Hall - Athens, Greece
    Jul 11, 2014 - Milton Keynes Bowl - Milton Keynes, UK
  • thank you...i think your words mean a lot to many here...thanks again!
  • PapPap Aspra Spitia, GreecePosts: 22,376

    thank you...i think your words mean a lot to many here...thanks again!

    Wow!... :blush: I am humbled! Thank you guys!
    Ooh, yeah! All right!
    Were [Pearl] jammin
    I wanna [Pearl] jam it wid you.
    Were [Pearl] jammin, [Pearl] jammin
    And I hope you like [Pearl] jammin too.

    Sep 30, 2006 - OAKA Sports Hall - Athens, Greece
    Jul 11, 2014 - Milton Keynes Bowl - Milton Keynes, UK
  • slightofjeffslightofjeff Posts: 7,701
    Even after all these years, I'm still working out what I think this song is about. But I'd like to point out those first three lines are things that are literally hard to imagine:

    * Painting a picture using only gray
    * Lighting a pillow, then laying back to watch the flames
    * "I tell a story, but no one listens that long" -- this one is a little bit of a stretch, but this song was written during an era where seemingly everyone on earth wanted to know what Eddie Vedder wanted to say about absolutely everything (and he wasn't doing many interviews). A day to come in which nobody cared what he had to say, at that time, was "hard to imagine." I feel like this line is a little tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating.

    Anyway ...

    I don't know how that idea plays into the second verse. Still working on that one.
    everybody wants the most they can possibly get
    for the least they could possibly do
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