Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has long been able to wear many hats in the band, both figuratively and literally. Far more than just the man behind the four-string (and in some cases 12!), Ament has also contributed some great songwriting to the band's catalog over the years. Here's what we think are his five best.

“Pilate”
From Yield, 1998

Always an avid reader, it was a book — Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita — that sparked this grinding, groove-driven track. Pilate, of course, is an actual biblical figure involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. “At the end [of the book] they talk about Pontius Pilate being all alone on a mountain with his dog,” Ament told Guitar World in 1998. “He couldn't sleep and he couldn't function. It really struck me hard, because at that point I was feeling very alone. I've always had this recurring dream about being old and just me and my dog sitting on the porch. It wasn't necessarily a sad dream or a premonition, but it did get me to thinking about why Pilate was so alone and freaked out. Then I realized he didn't get to finish his conversation with Jesus.”

 

"Lowlight"
From Yield, 1998

On the surface, it's a lilting ballad. Below the surface, it's a search for home and self.
“I think ‘Pilate’ was the question I was asking myself, and ‘Low Light’ was the answer, the realization,” Ament said to Guitar World. “It was a kind of gratefulness at finding that place of calm and peace at my center and getting a glimpse of the person I could choose to be. It was the purest happiness that I've experienced in a long time.”

 

"Nothing as It Seems"
From Binaural, 2000

Eddie Vedder is famous for reaching into his own childhood for inspiration on some of Pearl Jam’s early music, and eventually Ament did the same for this pitch-black, slow-burning first single from Binaural. ”I grew up in really rural area in Northern Montana, and [the song] looking back,” Ament explained to MTV in 2000. “I looked back at my childhood as being a fairly utopian situation where I had the freedom to ride my bike around town when I was five years old, and my parents didn't have to worry about anybody taking me and killing me or whatever. In the last couple of years, there have been some things that have kind of allowed some darker things to come to the surface of my childhood, seeing things that I had kind of selectively forgotten for my own mental health or whatever.”

 

"Alright"
From Gigaton, 2020

The tender, building ballad from Gigaton features Vedder delicately voicing Ament’s words of hope, exploration and self-care in the sonic vein of his earlier “Lowlight” and in the lyrical vein of so many Pearl Jam songs where leaving it all behind held the journey to an answer: “If you tire of the game / Hit the road towards the clouds / Keep it for yourself.”

 

"Gods’ Dice"
From Binaural, 2000

A full-on rocker from Pearl Jam's first album of the '00s, Ament turned this tune to the metaphysical quickly — a throwdown between destiny, luck and human will. For the title, Ament tweaked a famous Albert Einstein quote: “God does not play dice with the universe.” Notice that for the album packaging of the song, God is plural.

 

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