It’s a journey that some threaten to take, but rarely do. In April 1992, Christopher McCandless ventured through the Stampede Trail in Alaska and carved his name as Alexander Supertramp along his route.
An Emory University graduate and son of a wealthy family of lawyers from Virginia, McCandless didn’t think much of money, his parents or society. He ventured Into the Wild, and after one major mistake, he died after eating a poisonous plant he mistook for a wild potato.
In 2007, Sean Penn’s adaptation of John Krakauer’s biography of Christopher McCandless’ journey, captured the hope, serenity and sorrow of the 24-year-old’s lifestyle. But the soundtrack, written and performed by Eddie Vedder, was created specifically for the movie and seemingly interpreted every moment to perfection.
Into the Wild captures every personal encounter along McCandless’ journey and each person’s importance to the story as a whole, and Vedder’s music adapts accordingly.
Opening track, “Setting Forth,” is an optimistic tune of freedom, just as McCandless set fire to his money, left his car stranded and set forth onto the great outdoors. The open outlook of a journey that will change one’s life forever, “Setting Forth” is upbeat and magnifies the mindset of a hopeful traveler.
The tune is similar to “Far Behind,” a curious song of what is to come. Vedder’s grizzly voice, which is perfectly suited for the entire album, shines in this track. He howls over an aggressive acoustic guitar lick about leaving the world behind in search of one’s self. It is hard not to want to venture into the great unknown during tracks like this and “Hard Sun.”
Vedder’s music is solemn and peaceful, just as much of McCandless’ life seemed to be. “Hard Sun” is a glorious track of man’s encounters with nature. Among the two tracks that surpass 4-minutes, “Hard Sun” is a song of isolation and freedom just as many other tracks on the album.
When Christopher McCandless was found dead in an abandoned bus he named the “Magic Bus,” he weighed 67-pounds, and likely died from his less than 10 percent body fat and inability to fend off the poisonous plant he ate. “End of the Road” is about the beginning of the end for Alexander Supertramp. As he was dropped off at the furthest point into the wilderness, his journey that was meant to start there, was really on its last leg.
The final track is Golden Globe-winning track “Guaranteed,” a nearly seven-minute song interrupted by a two minute silence. The song is a beautiful rendition of McCandless’ life with a special ode to his sister, Carine, who thought very highly of her brother and vise versa.
“Don’t come closer or I’ll have to go. Owning me like gravity are places that pull. If ever there was someone to keep me at home. It would be you”
As the closer of the album, “Guaranteed” nurtures every character trait we know of McCandless. The man was simply on a journey to be set free, and live for just a while among the animals; a venture that some may be envious of, and his fearfulness is a rarity in society. The man who risked it all to live in seclusion will forever be the man he wanted to be, but it may not be how he imagined.