Sean Penn directed the 2007 movie; Into The Wild, based on a 1996 book by Jon Krakauer. The tale is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, who left his comfortable college life to pursue a self-reflective journey in Alaska. Sadly, he was unprepared for the trials that awaited him in the wilderness and died from the elements. According to The Atlantic, McCandless drew inspiration from authors like Jack London and Henry David Thoreau, who retreated from society for periods of reflection. Aside from Penn’s masterful direction, the movie’s soundtrack turned it into a beautiful film full of self-reflection. It was the first solo album released by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. When Penn signed onto the project, the singer was his first choice to bring the movie’s vision to life. The pair previously worked on Dead Man Walking, where Vedder lent his voice to The Beatles cover, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. After seeing the movie, it took the singer only three days to write the songs for the film since the subject matter so moved him. Penn wanted him to remain authentic to his feelings, and Vedder indeed produced. He kept writing after his initial batch of songs, adding even more to the powerful project, reflecting powerful simplicity. Each track is a masterpiece, but some resonate slightly more than others. This is a ranking of the songs on the Into The Wild Soundtrack.
11. Tuolumne – Eddie Vedder
Aside from the powerful lyrics Vedder wrote for the movie. He also sprinkled in some instrumental works to capture the essence of the film. Even though this song is brief, it captures the minimalist feel of the movie.
10. No Ceiling – Eddie Vedder
This song is a backdrop when McCandless is reading a portion of a book by Leo Tolstoy. The lines in the book reflect on the reasons to retreat from society to find your true self. Alongside the brilliant combination of literature and music, viewers see a panoramic view of Alaska.
9. Setting Forth – Eddie Vedder
McCandless’ journey starts shortly after he graduates from Emory University. However, after he receives his degree, he realizes he needs to explore another path in life and retreat from the clamors of everyday life.
8. The Wolf – Eddie Vedder
This song is part of a montage that shows the opening portions of McCandless’ journey when he is just starting to see the world from a different direction. While the music plays, there are a few other scenes. First, he stands with arms outstretched as he looks to the sky, undoubtedly embracing the spirit of the universe. Then there is a second portion with him working at a lower-paying job.
7. Rise – Eddie Vedder
One of the standout lyrics in the song is, “Such is the passage of time, too fast to fold, suddenly swallowed by signs, low and behold.” Each word in this song captures the essence of the movie. Setting aside the tragedy, many times in life, we need to break apart from the path of what we think we need and choose to find what indeed works for us.
6. Long Nights – Eddie Vedder
People fear being alone because it allows too much tranquility to reflect on all of the mistakes in their life. However, the lyrics of this song muse on how these moments of silence are healing. After all, we can see our part in the universe and where we fit into its expanse without everyone around us.
5. Guaranteed – Eddie Vedder
There is an Easter egg in this song. After the initial portion of the song, it fades to silence, leading listeners to assume that it’s finished. However, there is another humming after the silence. It’s the last track on the album. Vedder won a 2007 Golden Glode Award for his work on this track.
4. End of the Road – Eddie Vedder
The majority of this song is instrumental. Since the opening lines are thought-provoking, it gives the listener a few minutes to meditate on the meaning and its application to their lives. The imagery of the road’s end relates to the point where we draw outside our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to find the truth in our life.
3. Society – Eddie Vedder
During McClandless’ seventh week in the wilderness, he is starting to fall apart but at the same time trying to still find the connection he’s searching desperately to find. While this song plays, he is writing in his journal and trying to find a way of making a shower in the wilderness. The song’s lyrics reflect his thoughts and wondering if life is passing on without him.
2. Far Behind – Eddie Vedder
The lyrics in this song are about how you can be free if you leave behind the material things you cling to in your day-to-day life. Additionally, there are lyrics about how much value we place on relationships while losing ourselves in the process. Another thread through this song is how we still follow ourselves even when we get away from all the exterior things that weigh us down. Even though retreating to calm our souls can help move our life forward, it’s never going to free us from our inner turmoil.
1. Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder
This is one song on the soundtrack that Vedder didn’t write. It was written by Gordon Peterson, also known as Idio. Although some may mistake the lyrics as being about a relationship between two people, it’s truly about the relationship we have with the Earth and how we’re not taking care of the planet as well as we could be. The song’s lyrics also reflect how each decision in your life leads you down a path, and you’re not able to go back no matter how much you might want to. Listening to the song draws in all the complex elements that Penn, as a director, wanted to bring to the surface.