"Corduroy" is the eighth song on Pearl Jam's third studio album, Vitalogy. Despite the fact that the song was never released as a single, it managed to reach number 13 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and has become one of their most popular songs from Vitalogy.


The inspiration for this song is that Eddie Vedder saw a corduroy jacket for $650 dollars that looked like the one he got years ago at a another thrift store. According to Vedder in a 2002 interview with The Onion A.V. Club: "That song was based on a remake of the brown corduroy jacket that I wore. I think I got mine for 12 bucks, and it was being sold for like $650. The ultimate one as far as being co-opted was that there was a guy on TV, predictably patterned, I guess, after the way I was looking those days, with long hair and an Army T-shirt. They put this new character on a soap opera, so there was a guy, more handsome than I, parading around on General Hospital. And the funny thing is, that guy was Ricky Martin."


The song is a critic to fame itself, personificated into something that bothers the protagonist who waited for it, but now wants to give in. The character rejects everything fame wants to give him, but feels incapacitated. Even though fame insists pressuring the protagonist, it's usual that he'll fight to maintain his ideology.

It is implied that the protagonist will undergo a process of exile, since he states no one will ever known him and may end up alone and simple, just like he begun. One of the most recognizable parts is the chorus when the character screams that nothing has changed since everything is tied to something, and asks, maybe the fans, to take his hand, not his picture. It's highly possible this is a reference to shirts, posters and pictures of Eddie all around putting him as a symbol without not even knowing the true person.

In the end, the protagonist laments that fame wasn't as fun as he thought it would be, and for his decisions, he will be damned, dying alone like everything has begun. Behind the main song, Eddie mumbles that he directly talks that "I thought you were a friend, but I guess...I guess I hate you.", that can be considered the band's vision about fame failing and knowing its true face.

Music & LyricsEdit

Pearl Jam - Corduroy

Pearl Jam - Corduroy

Unofficial music video of Corduroy

The waiting drove me mad, you're finally here and I'm a mess
I take your entrance back...can't let you roam inside my head
I don't want to take what you can give
I would rather starve than eat your bread
I would rather run but I can't walk
Guess I'll lie alone just like before

I'll take the varmint's path...oh, and I must refuse your test
Push me and I will resist...this behavior's not unique
I don't want to hear from those who know
They can buy, but can't put on my clothes
I don't want to limp for them to walk
Never would have known of me before
I don't want to be held in your debt
I'll pay it off in blood, let I be wed
I'm already cut up and half dead
I'll end up alone like I began

Everything has chains, absolutely nothing's changed
"Take my hand, not my picture," spilled my tincture

I don't want to take what you can give
I would rather starve than eat your breast
All the things that others want for me
Can't buy what I want because it's free
Can't buy what I want because it's free
Can't be what you want because I'm

Why ain't it supposed to be just fun
Oh, to live and die, let it be done
I figure I'll be damned, all alone like I began
It's your move now
I thought you were a friend, but I guess I, I guess I hate you..