Eddie Vedder

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Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder (born Edward Louis Severson III; December 23, 1964) is an American musician and singer-songwriter, who is best known for being the lead singer and one of three guitarists of the alternative rock band Pearl Jam.


  • You kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you're gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper. In the end, it does nothing. Nothing changes. The world goes on and you're gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself.
    • This quote was taken from the Synergy's Echoes page (December, 1991 Houston, Texas, KLOL FM Echoes of Exposure with David Sadoff).

  • Well, maybe it was just that I wasn't going to like anybody because I had to work and I had to explain to my teachers why I wasn't keeping up. I'd fall asleep and things in class and they'd lecture me about the reality of their classroom. I said, 'You want to see my reality?' I opened up my backpack to where you usually keep your pencils. That's where I kept my bills... electric bills, rent... That was my reality.
    • L.A. Times 5/1/94, "He Didn't Ask for All This".

  • There is a thing that happens when you are not as privileged and you start hanging out with a seedier crowd because you can afford to do the same things, [...] And all of a sudden the big night out is sitting in somebody's trailer, smoking something or getting hold of something to put up to your nose.
    • L.A. Times 5/1/94, "He Didn't Ask for All This".

  • I am not a good enough writer to have an agenda or come up with a message and try to put it into a song, [...] It's more like you write what comes to you... You try to reflect the mood of the songs. Take 'Rearviewmirror', we start off with the music and it kinds of propels the lyrics. It made me feel like I was in a car, leaving something, a bad situation. There's an emotion there. I remembered all the times I wanted to leave...
    • L.A. Times 5/1/94, "He Didn't Ask for All This".

  • You know, [his voice trembling, hoarse, no more than a whisper] I always thought I'd go first. I don't know why I thought that. It just seemed like I would. I mean, I didn't know him on a daily basis -- far from it. But, in a way, I don't even feel right being here without him. It's so difficult to really believe he's gone. I still talk about him like he's still here, you know. I can't figure it out. It doesn't make any sense. I remember when he got sick in Rome -- I didn't realize then that it was actually a suicide attempt -- I was in Seattle. I went out to grab something to eat and I saw the headlines. That he was in a coma. I just freaked out, man. I went home and made some phone calls, tried to find out what the fuck was going on. Then I started pacing the house and started to cry. I just kept saying, 'Don't go, man, just don't fuckin' go... just don't go.' I kept thinking, 'If he goes, I'm fucked.' You know, all these people man, all lining up to say that his death was so fucking inevitable... well, if it was inevitable for him, it's gonna be inevitable for me, too, if this continues. That's why this could be our last show in fuckin' forever as far as I'm concerned. Kurt's death has changed everything. I don't know if I can do it any more. See, people like him and me, we can't be real. It's a contradiction. We can't be these people who just write these real songs. We have to live up to the expectations of a million people. And we can't do that. And then there's a cynical fuckin' media on top of that. Fuck that, fuck 'em. All along the line, they question your fuckin' honesty. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, they think it's an angle. They think it's all a fuckin' game. Because that's all they're used to. That's what they think it is, a fuckin' game. They don't know what's real and what isn't. And when someone comes along who's trying to be real, they don't know the fuckin' difference. So if you say, 'No, I'm not playing your fuckin' game. I want out... I'm not doing this, I'm not doing that...,' they still think you're part of it. They just can't accept that you don't want to be part of it, that you were never part of it. They just think it's an angle. Some kind of fuckin' angle. And that makes it so hard for somebody who's just trying to be honest. So fuck it. And another thing, we never talked about this but it's like you were saying although we were very different people, there was probably a lot we had in common. We had similar backgrounds, yeah, things that happened with our families and shit... I think that's something that comes out in what we wrote in our songs, definitely. It is kinda similar sometimes. But what makes it more similar is the way people responded to what we wrote and sang about, the intense identification. And I think it was maybe a shock to both of us that so many people were going through the same things. I mean, they understood so completely what we were talking about. And this was shit we thought only he and I were ever gonna have to deal with. Because we kinda wrote these songs for ourselves really. Then all of a sudden, there's all these other people who connect with them and you're suddenly the spokesman for a fuckin' generation. Can you imagine that! A... spokesman... for a... generation.

  • There was a lot of stuff that got said, but none of it really matters. And I like to think he may have had second thoughts about some of the things he said, you know... I mean there's a person we both knew, who told me that Kurt asked about me a lot, like picked their brains about me, this person who knew us both. And I thought that was cool. That made me feel good, you know. Because so much bullshit was getting written about us. And we talked, we talked a couple of times. And this one time, he told me flat-out, just delivered me a whole paragraph on the respect he had for what I did, and he realized it was pure. This was at the MTV Awards. 'Tears in Heaven' was playing in the background, we were slow dancing. I remember going out surfing the next morning and remembering how good that moment felt and thinking, 'Fuck, man, if only we hadn't been so afraid of each other...' Because we were going through so much of the same shit. If only we'd talked, maybe we could have helped each other.

  • Allan Jones: When Kurt went into a coma in Rome, a local Seattle magazine, a small-circulation coffee house rag, carried an article with the headline: "WHY COULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN EDDIE VEDDER?" This was exactly what Courtney Love had told Select magazine, I tell Eddie. He looks absolutely stunned. "Oh," he says, the wind gone out of him, utterly deflated. "That's nice. That's really nice. That makes me feel really good. I wonder why she didn't mention that when I phoned her last night and offered her any help or support I could give her... I really don't know any of these people. I don't know Courtney, I'd never talked to her before. But someone said I should call her and I thought maybe I should. I mean, all this shit that comes up and all this bullshit that flies back and forth in the press that gets italicized and trumped up to make it a bigger deal than it really is, when all that's said and done, there's feelings I have for those people. And the ones that are alive, I need to let them know how I feel.
  • ** Interview for Melody Maker, May 21, 1994.

  • I tell you, man, when our first record came out, I was shocked how many people related to some of that stuff. Something like 'Alive,' so many people dealt with death through that song. Like people dealt with the death of love through 'Black' and so many people dealt with suicide through 'Jeremy.' The kind of letters that got through to me about those songs, some of them were just frightening. It's just so fuckin' weird. You write about this shit, and you're suddenly the spokesman for a fuckin' generation," he laughs, and it's a bitter, scary laugh, nothing funny about it at all. "Think about it, man," he says. "Any generation that would pick Kurt [Cobain] or me as its spokesman -- that must be a pretty fucked up generation, don't you think? I mean, that generation must be really fucked up, man, really fuckin' fucked up..."

  • Let me be as weird as I fuckin' like. It's my fuckin' life.
    • May 21, 1994, Melody Maker.

  • Vedder has a variety of comments about God and/or belief, at one point he was saying, "When you're out in the desert, you can't believe the amount of stars. We've sent mechanisms out there, and they haven't found anything. They've found different colours of sand, and rings, and gasses, but nobody's shown me anything that makes me feel secure in what happens afterwards. All I really believe in is this moment, like right now."
    • Rolling Stone, Oct 31 1991, "Right Here, Right Now".

  • JG: Can I ask what your feelings are about God?

EV: Sure. I think it's like a movie that was way too popular. It's a story that's been told too many times and just doesn't mean anything. Man lived on the planet -- [placing his fingers an inch apart], this is 5000 years of semi-recorded history. And God and the Bible, that came in somewhere around the middle, maybe 2000. This is the last 2000, this is what we're about to celebrate [indicating about an 1/8th of an inch with his fingers]. Now, humans, in some shape or form, have been on the earth for three million years [pointing across the room to indicate the distance]. So, all this time, from there [gesturing toward the other side of the room], to here [indicating the 1/8th of an inch], there was no God, there was no story, there was no myth and people lived on this planet and they wandered and they gathered and they did all these things. The planet was never threatened. How did they survive for all this time without this belief in God? I'd like to ask this to someone who knows about Christianity and maybe you do. That just seems funny to me... (sic) Funny strange. Funny bad. Funny frown. Not good. That laws are made and wars occur because of this story that was written, again, in this small part of time.

    • March 23, 1998, Janeane Garofalo interviewing Eddie Vedder for CMJ New Music Report at Brendan's, on the Lower East Side.

  • "Later he tried to keep a straight face as he mockingly confessed: 'While we were away, I found God.' He rambled on about the Bible before concluding, 'We found God. He was right in our stomachs...'"
    (The rambling had to do with finding a Bible in every hotel room, "Every hotel has Holy Bibles.")
    • July 23, 1998 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page C3.

  • I really like Chris [Cornell]'s records and I think he's the best singer that we've got on the planet. I first met Chris when I moved to Seattle, and we started hanging around. I didn't know what musicians did with their life, and I quickly realized that what he did on a Friday night was to get a 12-pack of shitty beer and chase his dog around on the mud for four hours in the forest. That was about an exciting an epiphany as I had! I haven't seen him in town for a while, but I have taken over the whole dog-chasing practice – me and my Hawaiian mutt. The beer's gotten slightly better too.

  • It was during that same week that I was up there [In Seattle rehearsing with Pearl Jam]. Day four maybe, or day five, they did a Temple [of the Dog] rehearsal after our afternoon rehearsal. I got to watch these songs, and watch how Chris [Cornell] was working, and watch Matt [Cameron] play drums. It got to "Hunger Strike" - I was sitting in the corner, putting duck tape on a little African drum. About two-thirds of the way though, he was having to cut off the one line, and start the other. I'm not now, and certainly wasn't then, self-assured or cocky, but I could hear what he was trying to do, so I walked up to the mic - which I'm really surprised I did - and sang the other part, "Going hungry, going hungry." The next time I was up, he asked if I'd record it - so it was just me and Chris in the same studio that we made [1991's] Ten record. I really like hearing that song. I feel like I could be real proud of it - because one, I didn't write it, and two, it was such a nice way to be ushered onto vinyl for the first time. I'm indebted to Chris time eternal for being invited onto that track.

  • One of the first people I met outside of the group [Pearl Jam] was this next human and I had no idea how he would affect my life and my views on music and my views on friendship and what a big impact he would have. These guys [the other members of Pearl Jam] know him much longer than me and his impact is profound. I'd like to introduce with great pleasure my old neighbor, Chris Cornell.

  • Sometimes it's hard to concentrate these days. I was thinking about the history of this building [Eventim Apollo] and the Bowie history. So I started to think about that and my mind began to wander. It's not a good...So I haven't really been talking about some things and I kind of... now it feels like it's conspicuous because I lost a really close friend of mine, somebody who...I'll say this too, I grew up as 4 boys, 4 brothers, and I lost my brother 2 years ago tragically like that in an accident and after that and losing a few other people, I'm not good at it, meaning I'm not...I have not been willing to accept the reality and that's just how I'm dealing with it (applause starts). No, no, no, no. So I want to be there for the family, be there for the community, be there for my brothers in my band, certainly the brothers in his band. But these things will take time but my friend is going to be gone forever and I will just have to...These things take time and I just want to send this out to everyone who was affected by it and they all back home and here appreciate it so deeply the support and the good thoughts of a man who was a... you know he wasn't just a friend he was someone I looked up to like my older brother. About two days after the news, I think it was the second night we were sleeping in this little cabin near the water, a place he would've loved. And all these memories started coming in about 1:30am like woke me up. Like big memories, memories I would think about all the time. Like the memories were big muscles. And then I couldn't stop the memories. And trying to sleep it was like if the neighbors had the music playing and you couldn't stop it. But then it was fine because then it got into little memories. It just kept going and going and going. And I realized how lucky I was to have hours worth of...you know if each of these memories was quick and I had hours of them. How fortunate was I?! And I didn't want to be sad, wanted to be grateful not sad. I'm still thinking about those memories and I will live with these memories in my heart and I will...love him forever.

Song meanings[edit]

  • If you don't eat for a long time, food tastes better. The song ["In Hiding"] was about taking a fast from life, doing anything to get yourself back in touch with something real. Abstinence from anything is cool, because the normalcy of life is deceptive: It's enjoyable for a while, and there are good moments, but sometimes that's not enough. You start questioning what's the point. By not opening my mouth I was able to get into that state. Jack called me at the end of it; he couldn't understand what I was saying. It took a minute to get my speech back.

  • That song is all about someone who's drunk with technology, who thinks they're the controlling living being on this planet. It's another one I'm not singing as myself."

  • A 20-page cardboard book with a line on each page and a picture to go with it. It's a fable, that's all. The music almost gives you this feeling of flight, and I really love singing the part at the end, which is about rising above anybody's comments about what you do and still giving your love away. You know -- not becoming bitter and reclusive, not condemning the whole world because of the actions of a few.

  • It's about first relationships. The song is about letting go. It’s very rare for a relationship to withstand the Earth’s gravitational pull and where it’s going to take people and how they’re going to grow. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really have a true love unless it was a love unrequited. It’s a harsh one, because then your truest one is the one you can’t have forever.

Spin Magazine Reclamation[edit]

  • Reclamation by Eddie Vedder

Glasgow, Scotland. It's cold outside. I'm thinking about a problem. One group of people trying to force their beliefs on others, based on religion. And it seems as though we're regressing.

Above, a helicopter flies by. If it continues on its course, it will shortly be over Ireland, where as of this writing, the powers that be are deciding if a 14-year-old girl who was raped by the father of one of her friends should be allowed to leave for Britain to obtain an abortion. She's been ordered not to leave the country for nine months. Fourteen years old. Raped. The issue of an unborn fetus takes on more importance than the fact that the rapist walks free.

Extreme, but this is a place where the church influences the government. And when I think of the movements concerning abortion in the United States, it definitely seems as though we're regressing.

"My body's nobody's body but mine... You run your own body, let me run mine."

At the University of San Diego a few years ago, pro-lifers gathered, while pro-choicers chanted the above. Sides clashed and tension ran high. A banner equating pro-choice ideology with Nazism and Hitler was displayed. "Baby Killers," a little red stop sign said -- a sign held by a well-dressed 3-year-old who sat atop the shoulders of his upper-middle class father. The kid looked confused and frightened. The ominous presence of armed police on horseback would be enough to upset anyone.

And I wondered how this child got pulled into this? I wondered how any of us got pulled into this. The fact is that those people handing down decisions on the abortion issue are not the ones who will have to live or die by it.

Ten years old. That's the age my child would have been. And I would not be here in Glasgow. I wouldn't be in this band or traveling. And I wouldn't have seen the liberal ways in which other countries we have visited deal with this issue. I wouldn't have been asked to write this piece. The fact that I've been through it on all levels is the only reason I accepted.

Perhaps I'll have a child in the future, when I can provide properly. Who knows. But as individuals in this "free" country, we must have the right to choose when that time is right. A couple -- perhaps 15 or 16 years old, maybe 10 years older -- is faced with an unwanted pregnancy; it makes no difference if there is no means of support. They're questioning whether they can provide a proper climate in which to raise a child. A healthy question for both them and society itself. Yeah, there are programs to assist. Welfare and health programs that are constant victims of cutbacks. The child can sit in severely overcrowded classrooms and be taught by underpaid teachers.

A right to a healthy future should be the consideration.

Operation Rescue? The point being the rescue of a nonentity, a zygote. Perhaps the rescue of a young woman in crisis would be more in order. Instead, combat lines are drawn at clinics, and women must be escorted through trenches, which only adds to their trauma. This is not a game. This is not a religious pep rally. This is a woman's future. Roe vs. Wade was decided 19 years ago and the fact that a well-organized group has come close to overturning it is raw proof that we do live in a democracy. But also the reason that any opposition must be equally as vocal. You go to school in Normal, Illinois? Collegetown, U.S.A.? Shout it out. There are people wary of the strength that young voters possess. Prove them right. Decide on the issues and vote -- male or female -- for this is not just a women's issue. It's human rights. If it were a man's body and it was his destiny we were deciding there would be no issue. Not in today's male dominated society.

About Eddie Vedder[edit]

  • When we started rehearsing the songs, I had pulled out "Hunger Strike" and I had this feeling it was just kind of gonna be filler, it didn't feel like a real song. Eddie was sitting there kind of waiting for a Mookie Blaylock rehearsal and I was singing parts, and he kind of humbly—but with some balls—walked up to the mic and started singing the low parts for me because he saw it was kind of hard. We got through a couple choruses of him doing that and suddenly the light bulb came on in my head, this guy's voice is amazing for these low parts. History wrote itself after that, that became the single.
    • Chris Cornell on his duet with Eddie Vedder on Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike", quoted in *"Ten Past Ten". Spin. August 2001.

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