11 Easy Pearl Jam Songs on Guitar

It’s hard to believe that Pearl Jam is still together after over 30 years.

And it’s even harder when you compare them to their contemporaries. Mother Love Bone, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Nirvana all lost their frontman to drugs or suicide.

But Eddie Vedder and the band are still going strong. Eddie even pops up in TV shows such as Portlandia and Twin Peaks sometimes. 

Now one thing that I think a lot of people get wrong about the Seattle music scene and Grunge Rock is saying that the guitar playing is just sloppy and any amateur could do it. 

Well I don’t agree with that at all, and even if I did, I think that there are some major differences between Pearl Jam and a lot of bands they get grouped in with. 

For one thing, Pearl Jam has always seemed less heavy to me than many of those other bands. In fact, I would almost compare some of their material to a Jam Band.

And though they definitely aren’t Folk Rock in style, there is an influence in the content of the songs, with many of their biggest hits such as Alive, Jeremy, and Better Man telling a story with the lyrics.

They also had some songs that were quite complex. Because, including Eddie Vedder, the band has two rhythm guitarists and one lead player.

Fortunately for all the bedroom players of the world, there are some songs that sound all right with only one guitar. 

So grab your favorite flannel shirt and let’s take a little trip to Seattle.

1. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town

This is definitely one that sounds great to play by yourself and is great for acoustic guitar too.

All of the chords should be ones that you know already with Cadd9 being the only one that’s a little off of the beaten path. 

And the strumming is very straightforward as well, making this the perfect beginner song.

Here is how to play it. 

Verse, Chorus, and Bridge: D Cadd9 G Cadd9 G

Pre Chorus: C A C A C A Em 

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

2. Daughter

This is one of my favorite songs by the band and I think the simplicity of the guitar part showcases just what a great vocalist and melody writer Eddie Vedder is.

Now this involves a little chord riff that is best taught visually with the video lesson below. 

And you only need to use two fingers, basically just sliding them up and down the neck for most of the song with some open strings thrown in.

If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because there’s some preparation work to do first and it may be a new experience for you.

The song uses an open G tuning of GGDGBd.

Open tunings are a lot of fun to play around with and very useful for writing songs that sound a little “different”.

But if you don’t want to change your guitar’s tuning I will link to a tab that uses standard tuning too (just be warned that the G4 chord in that one requires some tricky fingering).

Link to tab (open G tuning)

Link to tab (standard tuning)

And here’s a lesson:

3. Better Man

This is a classic Pearl Jam song that can be played easily if you just want to use a pick for the whole thing or in a more difficult manner, depending on your skill level.

It is played using a Dsus2/F# chord shape and you’ll mostly just be moving that shape up and down the fretboard

You can choose whether to use your index finger or bring your thumb over the top of the neck for the bass note. Of course, it may depend on the size of your hands though!

And as far as the fingerpicking to do for the intro and verse, it’s quite slow and mostly repeats the same two patterns, so I don’t categorize it as particularly difficult, even for beginners. 

I’ll put the chords here for you, but check out the video if you need a look at the chord shapes or to master the fingerstyle parts.

Verse: D E D E F G F G (sliding the Dsus2/F# chord shape as in the video) 

Chorus: D Dsus2 D A G (play 7 times) then back to D

Asus4 A 

D Dsus4 D

Asus4 A G

Outro: D A G (repeat until the end)

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

4. Last Kiss

If Better Man gets you frustrated you can take a break with this simpler ballad. 

The song wasn’t written by Pearl Jam and actually dates back all the way to the 1960s but their version is quite famous.

It was released as part of a charity album to benefit refugees in the Kosovo war in 1999 along with songs by Sarah Mclachlan, Rage Against the Machine, Korn, and Bush.   

So although the fellows in Pearl Jam already seemed like decent guys, I always appreciate when musicians do something to help out those in need. 

Here is how to play the song. 

Verse: G Em C D (three times)

G Em C D G

Chorus: G Em C D

G Em C D G

The Chorus is basically a shorter version of the verse progression. So once you get the strumming pattern you’re all set.

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

5. Yellow Ledbetter (Easy version)

Imagine being in a band with so much talent that this song wasn’t even chosen for your debut album, instead being released as a B-side to Jeremy.

I and many other fans actually prefer it to some of their bigger hits from their Ten album and at least in my case, it is because of the wonderful intro riff.

Now I know the guitar in this song sounds intimidating, especially in the beginning.

But it’s more about the finesse and “finishing touches” than actual difficulty. I learned it a few years ago and it’s really satisfying to play, particularly with a fresh set of strings.

But if you just want to learn chords that you can play the song with, it’s very simple. 

Most of the song is simply an E B A E chord progression with the first E played as a barre chord at the seventh fret of the fifth string, and the second E can be played the same or with the cowboy chord version…

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson for a simplified acoustic version of the song:

Marty Music’s electric version

6. Hard to Imagine

Link to tab

7. Around the Bend

Link to tab

8. I Am Mine

Link to tab

9. Immortality

Link to tab

10. Animal

Link to tab

11. Corduroy

Link to tab