“Once” was originally written as part of a trilogy of songs telling the story of a troubled man. Specifically, “Once” tells the story of the man’s progression into a serial killer.
It was one of the reasons the lead singe, Eddie Vedder, was accepted into the band.
Compared to a lot of Pearl Jam’s music, and even on the album on which this is the opening track (Ten, released in 1991), this song is a lot harder edged.
From the ferocious breakdowns, to the passionately sung and hard hitting choruses, this song grabs you and doesn’t let you go; it’s a perfect portrayal of the frenzied madness of a bitter serial killer with a loose grip on reality.
The song was also released as a single with “Alive”- initially part of Vedder’s trilogy- as a B side to that song.