Five for Friday #91: Nirvana v. Pearl Jam


As most of you know, I like to use the intro to the #fiveforfriday quiz to connect the quiz number to pop culture.  Intros related to music have proven the most popular.

Earlier this summer, I used this space to argue Stones vs. Beatles.  My readers, as it turns out, are Beatles fans. One reader, however, persuasively argued that the choice isn’t binary – that one can be a fan of each band. It’s with that thought in mind that I approach this week’s intro.

In ’91, Pearl Jam released Ten and Nirvana released Nevermind.  Ten was released first, but went relatively unnoticed until the music world eagerly sought out anything related to the Seattle-sound in the wake of the enormous popularity of Nevermind.

For whatever reason, I’ve always considered Nirvana v. Pearl Jam to require a choice. In other words, it’s binary.  This summer I was hanging out with one of my cousins and a very good friend.  A Pearl Jam song came on.  My friend mentioned that he liked Pearl Jam better than Nirvana. I asked why.  He said he wasn’t really sure, other than “I felt like you had to choose one.”

But, I’m wondering, is the choice binary?

I used to subscribe to Rolling Stone.  Believe it or not, I still have 5 old issues.  Here’s a picture of 2 that I saved:


I read them last night.  Looking back, to the extent the choice became binary, Kurt Cobain made it so.  It’s as if he demanded that fans choose.

Who’d you choose?

Full disclosure, and All Apologies, I chose Pearl Jam.  I don’t dislike Nirvana, and the older I get the more I appreciate them.  But I prefer Pearl Jam.  Very simply, I like their music better. Also, two of my closest friends in law school had gone to undergrad at UW and, in 90 & 91, got me interested in Mother Love Bone, the band from which Pearl Jam directly descended.

(Not to mention, one might argue that Pearl Jam is a basketball band.  Before it became PJ, the band was briefly known as Mookie Blaylockin honor of the great Oklahoma point guard.  “Ten” is a reference to Mookie’s jersey number.  Jeff Ament was a damned good basketball player and huge hoops fan. Made the choice easy for me!)

That being said, as I read last night, I played Nevermind.   It’s stunningly good.  Lithium is one of my favorite songs.  As great as it is, Rolling Stone ranks it only Nirvana’s 7th best, and 4th best on its album! I’d say Nirvana satisfied the duty of competence with Nevermind.

Finally, something struck me as I read this Rolling Stone piece on Cobain.  Heroin led to his death.  Further, per the article, a few years before he died, Cobain and wife Courtney Love’s drug use factored into California’s child protection authorities temporarily taking custody of their daughter.

Here’s what struck me: I had just returned home from a Vermont Bar Foundation event at which the Poverty Law Fellow, Mairead O’Reilly, talked about the fantastic work she’s doing on the impact that opioids are having on Vermonters and the Vermont judiciary.  I realized that nearly 25 years after one of the world’s biggest rock stars lost custody of his daughter and committed suicide due to problems stemming from heroin use, we are still struggling to cope with the epidemic.

We need to do better.

Ironically, Pearl Jam might not exist but for heroin.  The band was formed only after Mother Love Bone lead singer Andrew Wood died of an overdose.  His death also led to the formation of Temple of the Dog, the band that made one of my favorite songs of the so-called Grunge era: Hunger Strike.  Sadly, the driving force beyond Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, took his own life earlier this year.  It wasn’t a heroin overdose.  Still, he’d apparently struggled with substance abuse for years.

We need to do better getting help to those in need, no matter the reason that they need help.

Onto the quiz.


  • None.  Open book, open search engine, text-a-friend.
  • Exception:  Question 5.  We try to play that one honest.
  • Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
  • E-mail answers to
  • I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
  • Please don’t use the “comment” feature to post your answers
  • Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
  • Share on social media.  Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday

Question 1

Jeremy approaches Lawyer for representation in a matter in which Lawyer has no real experience.  True or false:  the rule that imposes a duty of competence prohibits Lawyer from representing Jeremy.

Question 2

Attorney represents Dissident.  The State has charged Dissident with assaulting an Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In Small Town.  Attorney and Dissident remain Oceans apart on how to handle the defense, with Dissident upset that Attorney repeatedly says “you’re lucky she’s still Alive.”  For purposes of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which is different from the others?

  • A.   The plea that Dissident will enter.
  • B.   Whether to cross-examine Elderly Woman (if she testifies)
  • C.   Whether Dissident will waive a jury trial.
  • D.   Whether Dissident will testify.

Question 3

Daughter retains Lawyer.  Daughter agrees to pay an hourly fee for work performed.  Which is most accurate?

  • A.  The fee agreement must be reduced to writing.
  • B.  The fee agreement must be reduced to writing within a reasonable time.
  • C.  The fee agreement must be reduced to a writing that is signed by the client.
  • D.  The rules do not require the fee agreement to be reduced to writing.

Question 4

Attorney works at Big Firm.  Partners & Associates are departing like Rats fleeing a sinking ship.  So, Attorney decides to leave life at Big Firm in the RearviewMirror and opens a solo shop. There is a rule that imposes a duty of diligence.  A comment to the rule suggests that, as a solo, Attorney might have a duty:

  • A.  To prepare a succession plan.
  • B.  To remain abreast of developments in technology.
  • C.  To utilize a cloud-based practice management system.
  • D.  To retain or associate with a non-lawyer assistant trained in bookkeeping & trust accounting

Question 5

In 1994, Pearl Jam filed a complaint with the Department of Justice.  In a cover story, Time magazine referred to the complaint as “Rock’n Roll’s Legal Battle of the Century.” The battle eventually led to band members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament testifying before Congress.

What was the subject of Pearl Jam’s complaint?

  • A.  An alleged monopoly resulting from Ticketmaster’s purchase of Ticketron
  • B.  An alleged monopoly resulting from Clear Channel buying up local radio stations
  • C.  Royalties & Columbia House’s 8 for the Price of 1 deal on CDs
  • D.  The method by which Billboard counted album sales for purposes of the Billboard Top 100,











One thought on “Five for Friday #91: Nirvana v. Pearl Jam

Comments are closed.