“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough , it is your God-given right to have it…I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devils Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams. And I lived to tell my tale.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
Adam and I listened to Into the Wild on tape a couple of years ago – we had a long drive up to Yosemite in the middle of winter and needed something to distract us. I thought it was going to be the kind of adventure tale that my husband so cherishes – some guy going all Bear-Grylls-in-High-Def on the wilderness. What I didn’t expect was a story that was compelling, sad and filled with yearning, written so well that I frequently rewound the recording to hear a perfect paragraph again.
Into the Wild is the story of a driven, slightly dysfunctional kid who goes on a journey across the country and finally, into the wilds of Alaska. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well. However, in the haunting story of Chris McCandless is a broader commentary on what adventure is, how often the search for meaning becomes a foolish run into oblivion and when justice needs to allow for love. Eddie Vedder captures those deep, dark, powerful, wild themes in the soundtrack perfectly.
The movie was nothing fantastic – interesting for readers of the book, and worthy because it used actual locations from the true story – but the soundtrack is absolutely incredible. While Eddie Vedder in Pearl Jam is a legendary rock star, Eddie Vedder in Into the Wild is a seeker, a wild spirit, and a yearning heart.
The soundtrack makes me want to take off for a mysterious desert or a massive ancient forest, to test my limits and remember how small I really am. It’s roll-down-the-windows music, gallop-until-tears-stream music, sit-in-silence music. It’s good for long drives, for writing, for wishing and yearning and wondering if you’re ready for the next adventure.
“He read a lot. He used a lot of big words. I think maybe part of what got him into trouble was that he did too much thinking. Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often. A couple of times I tried to tell him it was a mistake to get too deep into that kind of stuff, but Alex got stuck on things. He always had to know the absolute right answer before he could go on to the next thing.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild