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"Who You Are" is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam. Featuring lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music co-written by drummer Jack Irons and guitarist Stone Gossard, "Who You Are" was released on July 30, 1996 as the first single from the band's fourth studio album, No Code (1996). The song topped the Billboard Modern Rock Trackschart. It peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song was included on Pearl Jam's 2004 greatest hits album, Rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003). On Pearl Jam's greatest hits album, "Who You Are" has a slight lyric change. Instead of "circumstance, clapping hands,"[1] it's "avalanche, falling fast."


 [hide*1 Origin and recording

Origin and recording[edit][]

"Who You Are" features lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music co-written by drummer Jack Irons and guitaristStone Gossard. The polyrhythmic drum pattern for the song was inspired by a Max Roach drum solo that Irons heard at a drum shop when he was eight years old.[2] Irons said, "To turn my drum music into a song is pretty challenging, but the guys have been really supportive of me doing it, and we've worked some things into a few songs."[3] Vedder played anelectric sitar on the song, giving it an Eastern-influenced sound. Regarding the song, Vedder said, "We realized that we had an opportunity to experiment."[2]

Release and reception[edit][]

Vedder has admitted that the choice of "Who You Are" as the first single for No Code was a "conscious decision" intended to keep the size of the band's audience down.[2] "Who You Are" was the most successful song from No Code on the American rock charts. The song peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, number five on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in AustraliaAustriaCanadaEnglandJapanMexico, the NetherlandsSouth Africa, and Thailand. In Canada, the song reached the top ten on the Canadian Singles Chart, and later it charted on the Alternative Top 30 chart where it reached number one and became Pearl Jam's first single to top that chart. "Who You Are" also reached number 17 on the Canadian Year End Alternative Top 50. "Who You Are" reached the UK Top 20 and peaked at number five on the Australian Singles Chart. "Who You Are" charted at number 47 in the Netherlands, reached the top 30 in Sweden, and was a top ten success in Finland and Norway. It was a moderate top 20 success in Ireland and New Zealand.

David Fricke of Rolling Stone said that the song has an "Indo-Bo Diddley glow" and called it a "buoyant electric variation on Vedder's recent collaborations with Pakistani vocal god Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan."[4] Christopher John Farley of Time also identified an influence of Vedder's collaboration with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, stating, "The spiritualized, bass-heavy "Who You Are" is a solid number, but it clearly owes a lot to Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, with whom Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder worked on the sound track to the film Dead Man Walking."[5] Vedder denied that his collaboration with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had any influence on the song.[2]

The song is featured on the soundtrack for the 1998 film, Chicago Cab. It was also featured in the Cold Case episode "The Long Blue Line" in 2009.

Live performances[edit][]

"Who You Are" was first performed live at the band's September 14, 1996 concert in SeattleWashington at The Showbox.[1] Following Irons' departure from the band in 1998 the song was dropped from set lists. After the band's March 9, 1998 concert in SydneyAustralia at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, the song was not performed live for a period of ten years. "Who You Are" finally made a return appearance at the band's June 11, 2008 concert in West Palm BeachFlorida at the Cruzan Amphitheatre.[1] The song has since returned to Pearl Jam set lists. Live performances of "Who You Are" can be found on various official bootlegs.

Track listing[edit][]

  1. "Who You Are" (Stone GossardJack IronsEddie Vedder) – 3:51
  2. "Habit" (Vedder) – 3:36

Chart positions[edit][]

Chart (1996) Peak


Australian Singles Chart[6] 5
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[7] 4
Canadian RPMAlternative 30[8] 1
Dutch Singles Chart[9] 47
Finnish Singles Chart[10] 2
Irish Singles Chart[11] 19
New Zealand Singles Chart[12] 17
Norwegian Singles Chart[13] 7
Polish Singles Chart[14] 6
Swedish Singles Chart[15] 26
UK Singles Chart[16] 18
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 31
US Modern Rock Tracks (Billboard)[17] 1
US Mainstream Rock Tracks (Billboard)[17] 5