Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard recalled the stressful experience of recording for Neil Young while fighting a flu infection.

Impressed by the Seattle band in the years just after their arrival and having interacted with them live on several occasions, Young – sometimes referred to as the "godfather of grunge" – invited them to back him on his 1995 album Mirror Ball. They were delighted to accept, despite feeling apprehensive about the challenge.

"It was four days of recording the Neil songs. I had the flu for two days," Gossard told the Broken Record Podcast in a recent episode (audio below), saying the experience involved "pushing down the pressure and the anxiety."

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He continued: "You're in the studio with one of your favorite – if not your favorite – artist ever, and not wanting to let him down and let the whole session down."

The pace of recording was another challenge. "He plays the song once for us. We learn the chords and he's like, 'Okay, we're gonna record it,' and then you record it. ... We're just trying to remember the chords!"

Gossard pointed out: "None of us are studio musicians…there's people that can come in and chart things out in two seconds, like play by ear."

For him it was different: "You're kind of trying to find the basic chords and then quickly find something that helps those chords...it was nerve-racking for me."

On the other hand, he was delighted with the results, saying: "There's nothing more satisfying than having transcendence in three chords, where it's not all the years of studying music, and it's not any sort of science or anything. ... It's just literally joyful play, with three notes."

What Neil Young Said of Pearl Jam's Work on 'Mirror Ball'

It seems the band were never quite sure what Young had thought of their contributions until quite recently. "He called me last summer," guitarist Jeff Ament reported. "He just goes, 'Man, your guys' playing on this is so great.

"'I think I move so fast from record to record, I don't really get a chance to listen back. But I'm really listening to how you guys chose to play, and I appreciate you so much. I hope we get to do it again.'

"And of course, you're like, 'Oh, can we please do that again! Because we'll give you more space and we'll be so much better than we were in 1995.'"

Hear Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament on the Broken Record Podcast

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Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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