Cover Image: Not for You

Not for You

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Member Reviews

Being a huge Pearl Jam fan i thoroughly enjoyed this book and reading about the bands history.  The author presented a lot details about the band that I didn't think of or realize and a new perspective on the songs and events.  The book presented a thorough review of the band's recording history as well as on their tour and concert history.  It is an excellent biography of one of the greatest bands in history. The author isn't afraid to point out some of the failings of the band as well as revel in there amazing music.
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This was not what I was thinking this book was going to be about. I am not sure if it is because of how the book was in kindle format, but this book was all over the place. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
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"It creeps up on you: one day, you’re a casual fan, happy to take in a show every once in a while. All of a sudden, you are a sociopath with opinions on the definitive version of 'Daughter'.” (Ronen Givony)

I loved Pearl Jam in he 90s. Unfortunately, I eventually lost track of their newer music, though their old stuff remains a favorite of mine, able to take me back to a moment in time. So, when I saw this book, I was excited to receive a copy from the publisher via NetGalley for review. 

I feel this book so hard. While I like Pearl Jam, they aren't "my band" -- but I do have a band that lays the same role in my life as Pearl Jam does for the author. At times reading this book was like having a conversation with a friend about songs and setlists and our last (or next) shows. I thoroughly enjoyed that "conversation" with Mr. Givony, as well as seeing what I've missed with Pearl Jam over the years. The book was well written and researched, and despite the author's love for the band and music, it was very objective. I appreciated the current events in relation to Pearl Jam's sIongwriting and evolution as a band. 

This was an excellent read, and I'm sure I'll be back to reread it (and definitely listening to more Pearl Jam).
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I really loved Pearl Jam but not to the extend this author does. This means a lot of the minutiae is lost on me which makes the book not rate as well for me. I do like the quick writing style in snippets and via timeline and think really huge PJ fans will love this. It could be a favorite for a niche group.
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Not what I was hoping for in terms of a Pearl Jam book, the writing was all over the place and the narrative was hard to follow.
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Pearl Jam were undoubtedly one of the pioneers of the grunge and alternative rock scene around Seattle, Washington, so I was excited to read their first-ever comprehensive biography. Not For You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense is, however, very different to most biographies and charts the band's substantial milestones alongside the political, social and environmental climate across the globe at the time, and for that very reason I found it captivating from start to finish. Right from the beginning of their career in 1989 and through to 2019, the year's are punctuated by ruminations on about time, rebellion, fame, disenchantment, civil discourse, the idea of the mainstream, the desire of a fan, and what a band can do to answer it. It sets the gigs, appearances and music into context creating an original and fascinatingly unique read at once about a much-loved band and the wider world. Many thanks to Bloomsbury Academic for an ARC.
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Not For You is an excellent biography of Pearl Jam, one of my favourite bands. It's told by a fan and someone who isn't afraid to point out the band's failings as well as revel in their wonderful music. The book is full of anecdotes from their unlikely beginnings to their runaway success and the activism that has shaped some of their later work.
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I’ll start by saying that this is not a book for the casual fan. But as Givoney himself says, as it has been almost 20 years since the band released an album with more than two or three decent songs, is there really such a thing as a casual Pearl Jam fan left? Instead, we have folk who remember Pearl Jam from when ‘Jeremy’ was on hard rotation on MTV, back when MTV actually showed music videos, and folk who will look down upon the author for having ‘only’ seen them live fifty-seven times. This book is aimed squarely at the latter group.

Not for You doesn’t contain much in the way of biographical info on the individual members of Pearl Jam, working from the probably accurate assumption that anyone picking this book up will already know most of that. Instead, Givoney works his way through the band’s history by placing it in context with what was going on in the wider community at the time, starting with the explosion of ‘Grunge’ in the early nineties, through their battles with Ticketmaster, 9/11 and the Gulf War, the ‘Battle of Seattle’ anti-globalisation protests and the on-going fight for reproductive rights in the US. In fact, some fans who don’t share Pearl Jam’s political views might find themselves joining the crowd at some of their more infamous shows in chanting ‘stick to rock and roll’, but I appreciated this linking of the bands output with contemporary events.

Givoney claims, with some justification, that Pearl Jam are pretty much a ‘touring band’, with the main focus, and best examples, of their work being found playing live rather than in the recording studio, and Not For You contains lots of discussion and dissection of particularly notable live performances throughout the band’s career. Whilst some of this was illuminating, I probably could have done without the continued inclusion of the ‘um’s and ah’s’ during the transcriptions of Ed’s onstage chatter, however.

I would certainly recommend Not For You to Pearl Jam fans, but with one slight caveat. Givoney, as you would expect, has some strong opinions on which parts of the band’s catalogue he likes and which he doesn’t, and if these views don’t chime with your own, then they can become quite grating. I knew by page 50 that he really doesn’t like ‘Jeremy’, I didn’t need to be still being told that by page 350, too. But overall, Not for You was an interesting and entertaining look at an often unfairly maligned band.
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Not for You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense is not your typical band biography. More than a gossipy retelling of behind the scenes drama, this is a thorough examination of the band’s recording and concert history. The author isn’t afraid to share his opinions on what he sees as the band’s triumphs as well as their missteps. It’s an intelligent examination of what has worked and what hasn’t. Particularly insightful is the recounting of current events that shaped Pearl Jam’s music and performances. As a casual listener of Pearl Jam, I appreciated the recap of what I’ve missed over the years.
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Not for You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense by Ronen Givony really struck a sweet spot for me. Pearl Jam is a group I really liked for a time in the 90s, then just never kept following them. So in my mind, with the exception of two later concerts (I only saw them five times total), they were forever stuck in time for me. Even hearing new stuff didn't unstick them. This book not only gave me some insight into the group and their fans, but also into my own feelings about the band. I love when a book helps to explain me to me.

In the early 90s I was a "nontraditional" student as an undergrad, meaning I was a bit older than most undergrads. My first undergrad degree was about a decade earlier and was mostly military experience in electronics and some correspondence courses coupled with a few in person classes, so the early 90s were really my college years, even if I was an old man of just over 30. So I was in a place where a lot of people were listening to this new sound, and like them I found it empowering (though I never found anything more empowering for me than much of the music I grew up with, but I think that is true of most people of any generation) but I also wasn't completely enamored of Pearl Jam and a few other groups. Come to find out, liking Pearl Jam is problematic for a lot of people.

What appeals to me in Givony's style is the way he reflects on some of the whys of his fanhood. Even if he ultimately at times just throws up his hands and says "just because." It was in his reflections, sometimes purely personal and sometimes through critiquing the music or the activism, where I was able to better understand the things that did appeal to me and the things that really didn't matter. In the end, I came away with a better appreciation of the group and what they did or tried to do and a better understanding of my previous ambiguity about them. Now I can say I do like them and feel like I can say why, to some degree.

For readers who like Pearl Jam this will be the kind of read you'll love even when you're arguing with it. You might disagree with some things or understand things different, but Givony never just makes a bold statement without offering some rationale. For the more casual fan, which I consider myself to be, this will fill in gaps as well as show you a lot of the history you probably missed. It is a good read and really does engage the reader as much as simply explain to the reader.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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