Better Man: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Better Man"
Song by Pearl Jam

from the album Vitalogy

Released November 22, 1994
Recorded November 1993 – May 1994
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:28
Label Epic
Writer Eddie Vedder
Producer Brendan O'Brien, Pearl Jam
Vitalogy track listing
"Satan's Bed"
"Better Man"
"Aye Davanita"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Better Man" (sometimes written as "Betterman") is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam. Written by vocalist Eddie Vedder, "Better Man" is the eleventh track on the band's third studio album, Vitalogy (1994). Despite the lack of a commercial single release, the song managed to reach the top of the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it spent a total of eight weeks at number one. The song was included on Pearl Jam's 2004 greatest hits album, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003).


Origin and recording

"Better Man" was written by vocalist Eddie Vedder when he was in high school. He said, "I wrote "Better Man" before I could drink—legally—on a four-track in my old apartment."[1] In another interview, Vedder stated, "Sometimes I think of how far I've come from the teenager sitting on the bed in San Diego writing "Better Man" and wondering if anyone would ever even hear it."[2] He first performed it with a San Diego, California-based group called Bad Radio. Vedder later recorded it with Pearl Jam, although Pearl Jam was initially reluctant to record it and had initially rejected it from Vs. due to its accessibility.

Producer Brendan O'Brien on the song:

There's a great song we recorded for Vs., "Better Man", which ended up on Vitalogy. One of the first rehearsals we did they played it and I said "man, that song's a hit." Eddie just went "uhhh." I immediately knew I'd just said the wrong thing. We cut it once for Vs., he wanted to give it away to this Greenpeace benefit record, the idea was that the band was going to play and some other singer was going to sing it. I remember saying to the engineer, Nick [DiDia], "this is one of their best songs and they're going to give it away! Can't happen!" And we went to record it and I'm not going to say we didn't try very hard, but it didn't end up sounding very good. I may have even sabotaged that version but I won't admit to that. It took us to the next record, recording it two more times, before he became comfortable with it because it was such a blatantly great pop song.[3]


When "Better Man" was performed on VH1 Storytellers in 2006, Vedder introduced it as a song about "abusive relationships."[4] It is often thought that Vedder had written it from a woman's perspective about an abusive relationship. Before a performance of the song at Pearl Jam's show on April 3, 1994 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Fox Theatre, Vedder clearly said "it's dedicated to the bastard that married my Momma."


Never released as a single (a band practice which encouraged fans to buy albums instead), "Better Man" nonetheless became one of Pearl Jam's most-played songs on the radio in the U.S. "Better Man" became the most successful song from Vitalogy on the American rock charts. The song reached the top of Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, the second spot on their Modern Rock Tracks chart, and number 13 on their Top 40 Mainstream chart in 1995. The song spent a total of eight weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock chart. It appeared on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 Airplay chart, reaching the top 20. In Canada, the song reached the top ten on the Canadian Singles Chart. At the 13th annual Pop Music Awards of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, "Better Man" was cited as one of the most-performed ASCAP songs of 1995.[5]

Al Weisel of Rolling Stone called the song a "haunting ballad about a woman trapped in a bad relationship."[6] Chris True of Allmusic proclaimed it as "arguably the stand out track on 1994’s Vitalogy—and equally arguably—[one of] the bands’ better songs in the whole of their career." He added, "Vitalogy was, admittedly, the end of Pearl Jam’s reign as top rock act and it’s because of songs like "Better Man" that they were able to stay there without succumbing to all the traps of stardom and shameless marketing."[7]

Live performances

"Better Man" was first performed live at the band's May 13, 1993 concert in San Francisco, California at Slim's Café.[8] In Pearl Jam concerts, the slow opening verses and choruses of "Better Man" are frequently sung as much by the audience as by Vedder. The song is often performed live as a medley with The English Beat's "Save It For Later". At the last Vote for Change concert on October 13, 2004 in East Rutherford, New Jersey at Continental Airlines Arena, Vedder made a guest appearance with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and sang "Better Man" upon Springsteen's request; sizeable numbers of the audience sang along with it. Pearl Jam performed the song for its appearance on VH1 Storytellers in 2006. At Pearl Jam's August 29, 2006 concert in Arnhem, Netherlands at the Gelredome, Vedder tagged Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" at the beginning of "Better Man".[9] The song is also a part of the so-called "Man" trio ("Better Man", "Nothingman", "Leatherman") played occasionally at concerts. There is no connection between the three songs beyond the word "man" being in each of their titles.

Live performances of "Better Man" can be found on the live album Live on Two Legs, international versions of the "Nothing as It Seems" single, the bonus disc included in the Japanese edition of Binaural, various official bootlegs, the compilation album For the Lady, the iTunes exclusive release The Bridge School Collection, Vol. 1, the Live at the Gorge 05/06 box set, the live album Live at Lollapalooza 2007, and the Canadian iTunes edition of Backspacer. Performances of the song are also included on the DVDs Touring Band 2000, Live at the Showbox, Live at the Garden, and Immagine in Cornice. The version of the song on The Bridge School Collection, Vol. 1 is an acoustic solo performance by Vedder and was recorded live at the Bridge School Benefit.

Chart positions

Chart (1995) Position
Canadian Singles Chart[10] 9
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[11] 13
US Mainstream Rock Tracks[12] 1
US Modern Rock Tracks[12] 2
US Top 40 Mainstream[13] 13


External links

Preceded by
"You Don't Know How It Feels" by Tom Petty
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
January 7–20, 1995
February 11 – March 24, 1995
Succeeded by
"Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" by Van Halen

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address