Boston Listeners Hear Pearl Jam Single

Boston rock radio listeners are getting a taste of Pearl Jam's annual fan club-only holiday single, "Drifting," a folksy B-side that is hardly "unlistenable," as singer Eddie Vedder jokingly promised the single would be.

The city's influential WBCN-FM added the song to its playlist Monday and has since been playing the cut twice a day, assistant music director Mike Green said Wednesday.

"It's basically just Eddie Vedder with acoustic guitar and harmonica," he said. "It's very Neil Young-ish," added Green, who also compared the sound to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska.

At the song's end, Vedder says "Merry Christmas" very quietly, according to Green. The station has not aired single's A-side, "Strangest Tribe," also an acoustic track.

So far, listeners haven't yet offered much feedback on "Drifting," Green said.

By contrast, the overwhelming response to last year's fan-club single -- a cover of J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers' 1964 cut "Last Kiss" -- ultimately

made the song Pearl Jam's biggest pop hit. It was included on the "No Borders" album intended to benefit Kosovo refugees.

Earlier this month, Vedder posted a letter to Pearl Jam's official fan-club website (www.tenclub.com) in which he jokingly told fans that, unlike last year's surprise "Last Kiss" phenomenon, they wouldn't have to share this year's annual Christmas single with radio listeners because it would contain "absolutely unlistenable tracks."