A Pearl Jam Song Perfectly Ends ‘The Last Dance’ Michael Jordan Documentary

The history behind the song in the climactic final scene

May 18, 2020

The zen-like focus coach Phil Jackson preached to the Chicago Bulls about living in the moment has been a main theme throughout The Last Dance. During the final episode, one of the interviewees attributed Michael Jordan’s success to his ability to stay in the moment.

It should come as no surprise then that the climactic final scenes of the documentary are supplemented with a song that is all about living in the moment.

That final song you heard in The Last Dance was from Pearl Jam off their 1996 album No Code. Appropriately titled “Present Tense,” the song features lyrics such as “You can spend your time alone re-digesting past regrets, oh/Or you can come to terms and realize/You’re the only one who can’t forgive yourself oh/Makes much more sense, to live in the present tense.”

The thematic brilliance of living in the moment and not holding on to regret lined up perfectly with the end of the documentary. Musically, the song works on many levels as well. Starting off softly with a guitar accompanying Eddie Vedder’s voice, it gradually builds to a grand crescendo and fades away back into a soft bliss.

As the team of the 90s, it was only appropriate that the band of the 90s was used during the final chapter. Viewers took to social media following the episode applauding the song selection as the perfect way to end the series.

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder was one of the many celebrities highlighted in The Last DanceDennis Rodman is a noted fan of the band and with the two sharing a friendship that continues to this day. Rodman frequently attends Pearl Jam concerts and will occasionally make a cameo on stage with the band.

Pearl Jam’s association with the Bulls isn’t only through Dennis Rodman. Eddie Vedder was born in Evanston, IL, a suburb just outside of Chicago and spent several years of his life living in the area. Vedder has been an avid Bulls fan his whole life and ended up singing the National Anthem prior to Game Three of the 1998 NBA Finals in Chicago.

The Last Dance had already done a fantastic job with their soundtrack using songs that serve as more than a musical background. “Present Tense” serves as the pinnacle of the documentary’s efforts with a multitude of tie-ins making it the fitting song to end the series.

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