Back when my now thirty-six year-old son was 13, his favorite band was Pearl Jam. In his world, no other band came close to this group. He idolized Eddie Vedder, wrote a research paper about them, and even dressed in grungy attire. (Well, he was a middle schooler then, so maybe he was just dirty and not grungy. Who am I to say?)

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam has made me a believer in its brand.

As is my way, I was cynical about the band. One of my famous proclamations — which my oldest still reminds me about — was when I told him Pearl Jam would be history in six months. What did I know? I was an aging flower child anyhow and the hard rock sound of Eddie & Co., Nirvana and Soundgarden just didn’t flame my taste buds.

Here’s the thing. Back then, I didn’t get Pearl Jam. For that matter, my son didn’t either. He just dug the music. What I didn’t realize about the band was its depth of soul. And I didn’t finally appreciate that depth until yesterday.

Durable brands have unwavering principles. And Pearl Jam is no exception. 

By now, Pearl Jam has joined the pantheon of historic rock bands. And next year, having been around for 25 years, its members will likely be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those are some amazing feats.

But like I said, I didn’t really understand them until yesterday. That is, until the band announced the cancellation of a concert in Raleigh in objection to North Carolina’s ridiculous HB2.

Sure, other bands and businesses have done the same, but Pearl Jam’s cancellation strikes home with me because my wife, son and daughter all had tickets to see them perform. And my son, most of all, was giddy as can be to see his childhood heroes.

Here’s what the rockers had to say about canceling the show:

It is with deep consideration and much regret that we must cancel the Raleigh show in North Carolina on April 20th.

This will be upsetting to those who have tickets and you can be assured that we are equally frustrated by the situation.

The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are.

It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice, along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable.

We have communicated with local groups and will be providing them with funds to help facilitate progress on this issue.

In the meantime we will be watching with hope and waiting in line for a time when we can return.

Perhaps even celebrate.

With immense gratitude for your understanding,

Pearl Jam

So while songs like “Even Flow,” “Jeremy,” and “Better Man” never hit home with me, a commitment to human rights, love and acceptance does.

For those reasons, I can now stand with my son in saying Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands, too. And maybe next time the band comes around (if HB2 is struck down), I’ll get a ticket as well.

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