OK ... authoritative as chosen by me. :-)
When anyone asks me my favorite singer or band, there is no hesitation that it is Pearl Jam. Lollapalooza 1992 pretty much defined my musical interest in this band, and there has been no turning back.
I was challenged to come up with my Top 10 favorite songs by this band, led by Eddie Vedder. I would say their catalog consists on the order of 175+ songs, and I like a bunch of them. Narrowing the list down to 10 was horribly difficult. But I did it. I quickly narrowed down the list by grabbing my "5-star" rated songs off of iTunes. There were about 25 of those. Then I listened to those 25 to come up with my decision.
Without further ado, here is the list of all Pearl Jam lists, with video samples so you can get an idea of how great these songs are:
Down (Lost Dogs, 2003): An uplifting song off of their Lost Dogs album, I have no real main reason for liking this song other than I just like it. It almost has an R.E.M type feel to it. Talks about being lifting yourself up from the depths of some sort of despair. I would say this is the most "poppy" song on my list. At least it is not "Last Kiss", I guess (although, I like that song better than a lot of people). By the way, for the video below, I was at that concert in San Francisco :-)
Love Boat Captain (Riot Act, 2002): This song starts builds from slow to fast and ends slow. A great blend of melody and singing. It is actually a very emotional song, especially to Pearl Jam. It is dedicated to nine people that died during a concert Pearl Jam was giving in Denmark in 2000. "Lost nine friends we'll never know, two years ago today".
Rearviewmirror (Vs., 1993): A hard-hitting, fast-paced song with Vedder on the guitars. The beginning instruments just captures you. And then "I took a drive today/Time to emancipate". For some reason, I initially thought this song was about some sort of date rape, but them came to realize it was about becoming free of abuse of someone who was hated with a passion. Apparently, this is about Vedder hating is stepfather. The end of this song gets your air guitar going. :-) Oh, and for you Cold Case fans, this song was featured in a two episode series featuring Pearl Jam (right after their greatest hits album "Rearviewmirror" came out).
State of Love and Trust (The movie "Singles" soundtrack (1992) / Rearviewmirror, 2004): This was written for the 1992 movie "Singles". A song about love and faithfulness, this is just one of those songs that jams. It is fast and the ending guitar playing is awesome.
Yellow Ledbetter (Lost Dogs, 2003 / Rearviewmirror, 2004): Mainly a very popular concert ending song, the lighters get thrown up when this song is played. It has been admitted that Jimi Hendrix was "ripped off" for this song. Not a fast song. Lyrically powerful. I believe Vedder has mentioned this being about someone dying in war. I love the song-ending guitar. Another Cold Case featured song.
Black (Ten, 1991): Number 1 on many Pearl Jam fans' lists, Black is probably the song I would introduce to a new listener of Pearl Jam...especially one who is more inclined to softer ballads. One of their most emotional songs, I believe it is about a couple's breakup and the pain that goes with it (others say it is about a suicide or an abortion). The sticking lyric - "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but why, why, why, can't it be, can't be mine?". And another Cold Case featured song.
Porch (Ten, 1991): The best song on their debut album Ten in my opinion. Just beating out Black. There really isn't a whole lot to the song, actually. A quick intro, an awesome beginning riff, verse, awesome instrumental, verse, awesome ending. Quick and hard hitting 3 minutes. A great concert song. This song got me loving Pearl Jam. Period. In a way, this song will always be my favorite. By the way, the crowd jump in the second video below from Pink Pop 92 is freaking amazing (about 2 minutes and 50 seconds in).
I Got S**t (Merkin Ball, 1995 / Rearviewmirror, 2004): The made for release title is "I Got ID". I like the original title better :-) Capturing me with its initial guitar sequence by Eddie Vedder and Neil Young (yes, that Neil Young), the lyrics start off depressing and emotional. And it stays that way. Great riffs. Neil Young adds a bunch to this song.
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Vs., 1993): I think this is the longest title of any Pearl Jam song. It is a fairly popular song. Having an acoustic feel, this song really showcases Vedder's lyrical and singing ability. About a woman working in a small town who sees a long lost love interest. I love it!
Immortality (Vitalogy, 1994): This song actually snuck upon me as my favorite song. While popular, it is not as well known as songs like Jeremy, Alive, EvenFlow, Last Kiss, etc. In fact, I would call it is a nice gem. I am not quite sure I understand the entire song, although rumors are it is about Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and lyrics were added after his death. For those musical instrument inclined (not me), I think it is a simple enough song. But it is the perfect blend of great vocals, melodies and instrument play that make this tops on my list. And, in case you are interested, it is featured in Cold Case :-)
[Other songs in consideration for the top 10: Life Wasted (Pearl Jam), Comatose (Pearl Jam), Corduroy (Vitalogy), Given to Fly (Yield), Faithful (Yield), Dissident (Vs.), In Hiding (Yield), Unthought Known (Backspacer), Animal (Vs.), Evenflow (Ten), Sad (Lost Dogs), Alive (Ten), Thin Air (Binaural)]