("Riot Act" Track-By-Track continued)
"Bu$hleaguer": A sludgy, slightly humorous swipe at President George W. Bush, with Vedder opting for a spoken word delivery of his pointed opinions in the verses ("A confidence man, but why so beleaguered? / He's not a leader, he's a Texas leaguer"). He utters the word "change" repeatedly in an ominous sounding outtro.
Gossard: I wrote that. That was written at the same time we were putting together [new songs for] the [2001 edition of the] Bridge School [benefit concert outside San Francisco]. That's another experiment that worked out really well. It's so satirical. People are going to enjoy it. The four-on-the-floor drum feel that Matt is playing -- he's playing a kick drum pattern we don't have a lot of in our songs. The groovy, spooky outtro is kind of a different thing. Ament: Everything Stone brought in was kind of dark. The one lyric he had was "blackout weaves its way through the city." That's a totally heavy line. The way Ed wrote lyrics around that, they were almost kind of humorous. It made the song even creepier to me. It took me awhile, because he actually originally sang over the verses in that song, and he had a really cool melody. I had a hard time letting go of that.
"1/2 Full": A straightforward blues raveup seemingly inspired by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, allowing for some extended instrumental passages.
Gossard: A Jeff Ament rocker. He came in with "Ghost" and "1/2 Full" -- he had the basic parts. Literally, he showed them to me. Then, everyone came in and played them two or three times, then those were done. Ed either came in and sang them right with us, or put lyrics on them over the course of the next week. We literally played those songs maybe two or three times before recording them. There's some rawness. You can hear it in the drums. Ament: That was kind of a last-minute deal. We went out and started playing it. Matt came in and we knocked it out in less than an hour. Ed, within a few days, had lyrics for it. I walked in one day and all the sudden the lyrics were over it!
"Arc": Ninety seconds of Vedder's wordless chanting, surrounded by a giant-sized chorus of voices in varying pitch.
Gossard: All Ed's vocals. 10 tracks of low, medium, and high. It takes over the speakers when you have that thing turned up loud. It's pretty amazing. Cameron: It's like, "That song is too short." I wanted to hear, like, 30 minutes of that or something!
"All or None": A beautiful, largely acoustic lament ("It's a hopeless situation / And I'm starting to believe / That this hopeless situation / Is what I'm trying to achieve"), keeping with the band's love of introspective, musically cathartic album closers. McCready's wounded solo wraps things up.
Gossard: I wrote it. A lot of the albums have slower, more reflective closers. Ament: A pretty dark song! Ed said it was like this album's "Indifference" [the closer from 1993's "Vs."], and that is right on.
"Down": A non-album B-side with a jaunty pace and genial guitar strumming reminiscent of Wilco or Husker Du. The song is included on the U.S. commercial single for "I Am Mine."
McCready: That's a song I wrote in the studio. In between takes, I just started hitting this riff, which Matt thought was cool. It's a cool song, kind of Social Distortion-y to me. In the end, it didn't seem to fit. I had to let go of wanting to have it on the record. It didn't seem to fit musically with the other songs. I don't know why. I'm still proud of the song, but it didn't seem to work. Hopefully people will check it out. Gossard: I think it's the kind of song that could easily get played on the radio. McCready: Well, it has happened to us before with "Yellow Ledbetter" and stuff like that. Cameron: To me, it sounded like Husker Dό or a really nice Bob Mould song. I actually really like that song and was hoping it would make the cut. Ament: It really is a different kind of song. That was part of the thing I was having a hard time with, was how it fit in. It's funny you say Husker Dό, because I was thinking more like the Replacements or Social Distortion.
Vedder also wrote an as-yet-unnamed song in memory of Alice In Chains vocalist Layne Staley, although it will not see the light of day for now, according to the band:
Gossard: It was a real personal song Ed wrote the night we all found out he died. He stayed in there, didn't work on anything else, and worked this song up. McCready: He wrote it in the ukulele tuning, so it had this weird vibe to it, and it was sad. Gossard: The record overall has such a universal feel to it, much more so than some of our other records. Most of the songs are about bigger kinds of things. The energy was feeling so positive, and there was something about [the Staley-themed song] that felt like it maybe wasn't right for this particular record. There might be a time it could come out.