Performer: Pearl Jam
Songwriters: Stone Gossard, Eddie Vedder
Original Release: Vs.
Definitive Version: MTV Video Awards, 1993.
Robb, of course, was my Pearl Jam buddy in Flint, and when Pearl Jam introduced this previously unheard song at the MTV Video Awards show in 1993, I couldn’t wait to talk to him about it. Did you see that? Holey schlamoley, how good is the next album going to be when it arrives in the fall? The answer became immediately evident.
Robb was a White Horse regular, but other than that, I didn’t see him away from work much unless Bill was along for the ride, which was too bad, because we jjoked easily together. The one exception was the second time I was involved in a car crash—the first since high school.
Going to the Mt. Clemens Gibraltar for the monthly card show was a regular occurrence in the fall of 1993 as I ramped up my set-building work, and it wasn’t a lot of fun to go alone. One weekend Robb asked if I were going, because he had some hockey cards he was looking for. Cool, let’s go Sunday.
Robb drove, and the show was fine. Actually, the day was fairly nondescript until the return ride home.
In those days, the route to Gibraltar after you turned on Big Beaver Road from I-75 was highway at the beginning and end but city road the rest of the time. At one point, it wasn’t suburban city road but rural road, where the route went down to one lane in each direction with multiple stops through a small-town setting.
Two lights about 100 feet apart were timed so if you headed East, if the first light turned yellow, you had enough time to go through both. The reverse was true heading the other direction. This funky intersection—in fact the whole town—long since has been bypassed by a continuation of the freeway.
So anyway, Robb and I were heading home. I was in the passenger seat, when we came to the aforementioned intersection. I could see—as Robb did—that the second light turned yellow. Robb knew he couldn’t make it and eased off the accelerator in preparation for stopping at the intersection. We never made it that far, however, because a woman turned left right in front of us at the first intersection, and we slammed into her going about 25.
After asking each other if he were all right, I quickly came to the realization that the seat belt—the seat belt I always wore as a result of my head cracking the windshield the first car crash I was in—worked like a charm. My chest slammed into the belt (Robb’s car didn’t have airbags), and it held me fast. I was unharmed.
Robb of course was predictably miffed. His car was crunched pretty good, but it still seemed driveable. The woman’s car got the worst of it. When the cop showed up, he spoke with Robb and then the woman. I was the tiebreaker, apparently.
The cop asked me what happened, and I told him just what I wrote above. He lasered in on the speed and arrangement of the traffic lights, and I concluded that he didn’t believe Robb’s story. I told him the second light was yellow and we were slowing in anticipation of it turning red. “So the first light, the light where the accident happened, was red?” he suggested? “No, THAT light was green.” I pointed for emphasis.
I was absolutely certain of that, and really all the cop had to do was watch the lights go through one cycle to see that the first light still was green as the second light turned yellow. The woman was ticketed for failing to yield the right of way; Robb got only an admonishment to drive more carefully.
That apparently was that, because I never got a call to appear in court as a witness. Robb and I never went to another card show together, but I don’t think it was my fault. I had his back.