February 6, 2009

Eddie Vedder does karaoke at the Best Western in Mesa, Arizona

I hate singing those songs like “Where The Streets Have No Name” for karaoke — those long musical intros will kill ya. What do I do with myself for those 45 seconds? I’ll make awkward conversation with the audience, and shuffle my feet. Maybe let out a “whooo!” of anticipation before the lyrics begin.

He also sang “Yellow S(C)ubmarine” (gotta love the guy in the audience trying to sing “Hunger Strike”), and duetted with a girl for “I Got You Babe.” Vedder is in Arizona for the 2009 Cubs Fantasy Camp.

He loves the Cubbies.


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September 25, 2008

Vedder covers Nick Cave and Trent Reznor

On August 21 Eddie Vedder began a two night stand in Chicago, part of his ongoing his solo tour (which I was fortunate to catch in Berkeley back in April). I’d heard that he covered both Nick Cave and Trent Reznor during his inventive set. Fascinating.

In honor of me planning to see Nick Cave tomorrow night with his Bad Seeds, it seemed a good time to dig up the mp3s. I love it when Eddie covers Ship Song.

Ship Song (Nick Cave cover) – Eddie Vedder [stream]
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover) – Eddie Vedder

10/1/08: mp3 links removed again at the request of the Ten Club.
Hmmm, starting to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

[photo credit Andrea Latina]

September 19, 2008

Someday Eddie Vedder and the Cubs will go all the way and it will be magical

Ed’s never made his love for the Cubbies a secret. Now he’s gone and penned a song especially for them with lyrics that go something like:

We are not fairweather, but foulweather fans
Like brothers in arms, in the suites and the stands
There’s magic in the ivy and the old scoreboard
The same one I stared at as a kid keeping score
In a world full of greed, we could never want more

His unjaded joy for the sport that I love is heartening, and this song makes me happy. Here’s a live version; there is talk of him releasing it (a studio version?) on vinyl as a 45 single, and it’s currently burning up the radiowaves around Chicago.

STREAM: Someday We’ll Go All The Way – Eddie Vedder

(file removed, you can now buy it over here)

Like The Hold Steady’s effort to bolster the Twins, or even the slightly less prominent Rockies anthem, Vedder’s effort is a noble contribution to my favorite sport. Now can someone rad could just please, please make a song for the Giants that will pull them up by, oh, 12 or 13 games? Thank you.

[song and story via Hire Jim Essian. thanks!]

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June 18, 2008

The insurgency began and you missed it

R.E.M. had a little help tonight at their encore in Philly; Eddie Vedder joined them (and Johnny Marr) onstage to sing the excellent “Begin the Begin.” So many great shows happening from both artists lately, to see them together would be astounding. Until video surfaces (edit: here), I’m gonna have to imagine it went something like this:

[video from 2004, the mutual admiration society continues]

UPDATE: mp3 from last night!
Begin the Begin (live in Philly 6/18/08) – R.E.M. and Eddie Vedder

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April 11, 2008

Lucky stars in your eyes :: Eddie Vedder in Berkeley, 04/07/08

Trying to remember, but my feelings can’t know for sure
Try to reach out, but it’s gone
Lucky stars in your eyes

With those lyrics, Eddie Vedder took the stage Monday night in Berkeley with a rare Daniel Johnston cover that I’ve heard only a handful of times since 1994. Sitting on a gorgeous set with actual decoration and design (old suitcases, projection machine, gold lamé wings, a backdrop facade with abstract buildings of wood, later lifted to reveal blue skies) Vedder strolled out, hung his coat up on a hook like he was entering his living room, and sat down with us for over two hours.

Thanks to the good people at the Ten Club, I was in Row C and felt intimately engaged in Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall (capacity 2089) with its pristine, warm acoustics. Given the amount of banter back from the crowd, maybe the acoustics were too good. Maybe we can work out the one-way directional acoustics somehow. More on that later.

Accompanied with an arsenal of guitars, ukuleles, a banjo, and an amplified footboard, Vedder’s set was a far-reaching collection of solo tunes from the Into The Wild soundtrack, unreleased songs and covers, with only a handful of standard Pearl Jam tunes — and many of those deep cuts from the back catalog. It was really a delight for this fan to see material I had never heard live, and Vedder’s voice sounded rich and golden and pure.

There was little variation from the setlists of previous nights, so anyone who had read a review in the paper or trolled the boards online knew what was coming next. I would have liked to see a little bit more changeup from night to night, as there are so many great songs he could have explored, but I am not complaining.

The soaring “I Am Mine” is a favorite song, and it was gorgeous to hear early on in the night, as was the rare “Dead Man” from the Penn film soundtrack (Sean Penn was there both nights, I hear). Dead Man was the very first song I ever saw Vedder perform, in a solo pre-set at the San Jose show in 1995, so it was a somber treat to see it again. The rarely heard “I’m Open” from 1996′s No Code was played as a modified version that left out the spoken word bit about a man lying in bed in a room with no door (good call there, Ed).

“Man of the Hour” did a phosphorescent slow-burn with its malleable melody and honey-rich vocals, while “Porch” was not something I was expecting, and completely rocked my face off. Ed’s furiously strumming arm was a rapid-fire blur of heart and urgency, and I found myself (quietly!) singing along to every word and meaning it. That’s my favorite song off Ten on most days, one of the few songs off that album that I could hear a good number more times live. It was nice to hear a rocker in with the acoustic stuff. And Lukin!! Acoustic performances of Lukin are something I never fail to get a kick out of.

The conversational tone of the evening led to some interesting storytelling on Ed’s part between songs, filling in details that I hadn’t known before. During the explanation of the West Memphis Three situation (tickets were auctioned off for each show to support their legal defense fund), Ed led into the extremely rare song “Satellite” that I had never even heard before Monday night, saying it was written for the wife of one of the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols. She was in attendance Monday night, and Ed performed the love song he wrote just for her and Damien.

Satellite – Eddie Vedder
(an especially nice live premiere from 2002)

Despite Ed’s requests for mitigation of the constant barrage of comments from the small crowd, the living room feel proved too enticing for many who wanted a chance to converse with their idol in that quiet setting. Vedder first quoted Tom Waits in a gruff imitation, saying Waits had once revealed to him that “silence is like a blank piece of paper,” then later telling the yellers a bit more blatantly to “shut the fuck up,” to little avail. From song requests to comments about everything from presidential candidates (wait, he’s supporting Obama?! Shocker) to general supportive “We love you” sentiments, I kept really wishing people would please just sit quietly and listen to the man I came to hear. I’m all for enthusiasm but it got a bit much after a thousand times.

One guy did yell after “Guaranteed” that Ed should’ve won an Academy Award, to which Ed humorously mused that he had been watching VH1 ‘I Love the 80s’ special recently, and had seen that the Ghostbusters theme won an Oscar in 1985. “That song I just played you is not as good as Ghostbusters,” he said with a smile, “but I’m going to keep trying.” Ed also threw in some pretty horrifying song lyrics from a Bay Area punk band called the Yeastie Girls, during a conversation about Fugazi. The words yeast and girls should really never ever be used in a sentence together, much less a band name. Please and thank you.

After an amazing run of well-selected cover songs, Ed closed his first encore with the vocal loopings of the song “Arc” from 2002′s Riot Act. The piece incorporates layers of wordless vocalizations, and was written for the 9 Pearl Jam fans killed in the crowd during the tragic happenings of the 2000 Roskilde festival. In 2003, Pearl Jam played this song at 9 shows, one show for each of the victims. It is rarely-played, a raw and haunting piece that echoed on after the blue velvet curtain closed and Ed left the stage.

After lengthy applause, Ed brought back out opener Liam Finn and accompaniment from Eliza-Jane Barnes, along with Marin County songwriter Jerry Hannan (who had joined him earlier to help perform his song “Society”) for a rousing version of “Hard Sun.” The security guards were being prison-guard-tough for the whole set on photos or video, patrolling the aisles every three minutes, giving sharp looks and pointed finger threats to fans who dared desire to capture the moment for posterity or for their music blog. But during Hard Sun, the crowd overflowed down to fill the aisles and I was able to capture a bit of that joyous closer for you, complete with Eddie-the-Pearl-Jam-frontman air jump on the final guitar chord:

Walking The Cow (Daniel Johnston)
Around The Bend
I Am Mine
Dead Man
I’m Open
Man of the Hour
Setting Forth
No Ceiling
Far Behind
Millworker (James Taylor)
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (Lennon, McCartney)
Here’s To The State (Phil Ochs)
Trouble (Cat Stevens)
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (Cat Stevens)
Parting Ways
Forever Young (Bob Dylan)
Society, with Jerry Hannan
Growin Up (Bruce Springsteen)
No More
Hard Sun, with Liam Finn, Eliza-Jane Barnes and Jerry Hannan (Gordon Peterson)


Other notes:
**I didn’t arrive early enough to snag a limited edition poster, but there were some very cool playbills being given out at the door with details on the show, artwork, and all the relevant causes and musicians. But PJ fans got greedy and took more than one apiece. After some Robin-Hood-like thievery from those with plenty, I went home a happy girl with my own ill-gotten souvenir. I didn’t do the swiping but I can’t say I turned down the gains.

**24-year old New Zealander opener Liam Finn was energetic (almost spastic, in a wonderfully unbridled and enthusiastic way) as he worked through material from his solo debut album I’ll Be Lightning. His music has strong melodic sensibilities (not unlike his dad Neil Finn) but he also really had an edge on the rhythms, with the proclivity to lapse into some rock and roll shrieks. He was out signing things after his set, and I told him I enjoyed watching him on the drums. A reader compared him to Animal from the Muppets, all flailing limbs and furry faced. I would see him again.

**One of my faithful readers is an Iraq veteran named Josh who recently wrote me an immensely moving and humbling email to tell me how much my words and music had meant to him while he was in the desert, flying Blackhawk medic missions and trying to save kids’ lives. Josh and his wife flew out from where he is currently stationed in Hawaii specifically for the Berkeley shows, as an anniversary gift to each other, and a vacation before he undergoes surgery for a broken back sustained in Iraq. Josh was in row 2 with his back brace, and one of the most moving moments of the night for me was when he and his wife stood silently together for the entire performance of “No More.” I felt overwhelmed.

**Finally . . . near midnight on Tuesday night, I was on the train heading back from an awesome Giants game (man I’ve missed that ballpark) and I get a frantic breathless call from my friend Sam, telling me that Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready had just showed up at night two. Apparently during the encore, Vedder started musing, “I’ve got Jeff Ament’s rug, Stone Gossard’s guitar, Matt’s drum… but I didn’t have anything from Mike McCready . . . so I Fedex’d him out.” Then they rolled Mike out on a cart, and the two went on to play All Along The Watchtower and Yellow Ledbetter together. Ha! Sean Penn also joined in on the jubilee, a bit oddly (does he sing?).

More than anything, I’d say these shows are great because of the sense of fun and experimentation, a chance to explore some musical ground that we haven’t seen. I’m heartened and glad to see Ed in such a good place.

[Vedder stills credit SFGate]

March 30, 2008

Baby we only got today, and then the moment’s gone forever

The Burn To Shine DVD series artfully combines two of my favorite things: cool old buildings and terrific bands, with a series of performances captured within the doomed walls of homes slated for destruction. The cameras roll for the band alone, and by the time we see the footage, the building no longer exists.

This series is a project of Fugazi dummer Brendan Canty and filmmaker Christoph Green (the pair also directed the Wilco Sunken Treasure DVD). Musicians representing the regional scene are selected by local “curators,” including Ben Gibbard in the Seattle film and Chris Funk of the Decemberists in Portland. The musicians set up shop in the condemned building, each performing one song, one take, on one day. Then the local fire department will receive the property and it will be destroyed by fire for training exercises.

What makes these films exceptional is the weighty sense of a fleeting, ephemeral moment that will never happen again. I’ve thought about this, but never been able to articulate the concept as finely and viscerally as the combination present in this series does.

So often I’ll see an exceptional performance in a venue, and the next time I’m there I might think of what took place on that very stage. But the moment is gone and will never happen exactly the same way again. This series crystallizes that into footage and teases it out to the forefront — the way that musical creations dissipate, and how they are fleeting by their inherent nature.

Baby, we only got today, and then the moment’s gone forever.

WILCO: Muzzle of Bees
(Burn to Shine Chicago, 2002)

Muzzle of Bees (Burn to Shine version) – Wilco

(Burn to Shine Portland, 2003)

Modern Girl (Burn to Shine version) – Sleater-Kinney

(Burn to Shine Seattle, 2005) – I love this house’s architecture

Can’t Keep (Burn to Shine version) – Eddie Vedder

Read the excellent full listing of who has played for this series, and if this concept interests you, you must listen to the podcast interview with Brendan Canty about the series. Canty talks about how the concept got started during a period when Fugazi was undergoing a time of flux and dissolution, and how he wanted to capture that feeling somehow through this old building that fell into his lap. It’s a fascinating and brilliant concept, and a series deserving of further development.

Vol 1: Washington DC (2001)
Vol 2: Chicago (2002)
Vol 3: Portland (2003)
Vol 4: Louisville (not yet released)
Vol 5: Seattle (2005)

Burn to Shine 4-DVD complete set

March 27, 2008

Vedder plays $5 secret shows in West Seattle

One of the things I am most looking forward to about seeing Ed Vedder solo next Monday in Berkeley is the variety of rare and semi-rare tunes I’m hoping he’ll play. I’ve seen Pearl Jam so many times that they’d have to dig quite deep to throw something I’d never seen, but within the framework of a solo setting there are many songs that I’d love to see live for the first time.

Judging from the setlists at the two secret shows Vedder played to fewer than 150 people this past Monday and Tuesday night at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle (tickets for an “Into The Wild event” were sold for $5 at indie record store Easy Street), I could be in for some pretty rad selections.

Here are (other live versions of) a few tunes he played at the shows this week:

Walkin’ The Cow (Daniel Johnston cover, Bridge School 1994)
Around The Bend (live Bridge School 2006)
I Am Mine (live Bridge School 2004)
Dead Man (live, Not In Our Name Benefit 1998)
Broken Hearted (live at the Wiltern Theatre 2002)
You’re True (live at the Wiltern Theatre 2002)
Goodbye (live at UCLA 2002)
Trouble (Cat Stevens cover, live)
Picture In A Frame (Tom Waits cover, Bridge School 2006)
Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty cover, live in 93-ish)
Forever Young (Dylan cover, 5.24.06)
I Used To Work In Chicago (Bridge School 06)
Millworker (James Taylor cover, live in 2004)
Drifting (live in Mansfield, MA, 2003)
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (Chicago 5.16.06)
Growin’ Up (Springsteen cover, live in 2003)


[Late addition/not in the zip] – Patriot!! Thanks to the comments, I’m gonna post up a few versions here of one of my favorite covers that Pearl Jam does, and add my voice to the small chorus suggesting this for the solo shows. Such a fantastic song.

Patriot (punked out version, Tibetan Freedom Concert 6/13/99)
Patriot (acoustic, Madison Square Garden 10/13/00)
Patriot (all reworked, live in 2003)

February 16, 2008

Ed Vedder’s solo jaunt down the West Coast

The Ten Club wasn’t lying when they promised an exciting 2008 for members. Just a few weeks after announcing that Pearl Jam will headline Bonnaroo, we members were notified yesterday afternoon that Eddie Vedder will be doing a solo tour down the West Coast in April. The venues are small, the tickets are unfortunately not cheap, and members will have a stab at presale on Monday. A friend of mine is combining the tour with some baseball park visits; the season is right, and dang that sounds like a lovely idea to me.

Liam Finn opens these shows.

Apr-02 The Centre, Vancouver, BC
Apr-05 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz, CA
Apr-07 Zellerbach Theatre, Berkeley, CA
Apr-10 Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA
Apr-12 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Apr-13 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Apr-15 Spreckels Theater, San Diego, CA

Five special ticket packages per show will be auctioned off for the legal defense fund of the West Memphis Three. On-sale to the general public is Friday through (yes) Ticketmaster.

Bruce Springsteen will also be tracing a somewhat parallel journey to Vedder, notably with his Vancouver show March 31 and the Sacramento show April 4th. Following the reliable old adage that starting a rumor on the internet is obviously likely to yield actual results, maybe there will be some collaboration like these:

No Surrender (with Vedder, Meadowlands 10-13-04) – Bruce Springsteen
Betterman (with Vedder, Meadowlands 10-13-04) – Bruce Springsteen
My Hometown (with Vedder, Chicago 9-26-02) – Bruce Springsteen

For good measure we’ll throw these in too:

Growin’ Up (Springsteen cover, 7-14-03 New Jersey) – Pearl Jam
Atlantic City (Springsteen cover, 10-01-05, Borgata Casino) – Pearl Jam**
No Surrender (Springsteen cover, 09-30-05, Borgata Casino) – Pearl Jam**

**The encoding on those last two tracks is too low to stream right (Chipmunks!) but if you download them they do sound fine, and that recording No Surrender is one of my all-time favorite covers. If anyone has better quality mp3s, please send em my way.

[top photo credit Kerensa Wight]
[Vedder/Springsteen photo 10-13-04, taken by Paul Hawthorne]

January 9, 2008

Into The Wild demos from Eddie Vedder

How in the world did I not consider Ed Vedder’s Into The Wild soundtrack album when I made up my best-of 2007 list? I think it’s a richly nuanced, evocative collection that’s perfectly suited to the weight of the film – you can read my thoughts on it here. Since the finished product is so grand, I was very excited to discover that some of his work-in-progress demos for the soundtrack have made their way onto the internet. Enjoy.

Guaranteed (Humming version demo) – Eddie Vedder
Guaranteed (demo 2) – Eddie Vedder [full lyrics jpg here]
Hard Sun (instrumental) – Eddie Vedder
No Ceiling (demo) – Eddie Vedder
Rise (demo) – Eddie Vedder
The Wolf (demo) – Eddie Vedder


These are from the excellent new Pearl Jam b-sides site http://www.gremmie.net/bsides/

Also — a music video from Eddie? If you haven’t seen it yet:

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October 23, 2007

I now walk into the wild

This past weekend, Into The Wild finally trickled down to those of us not located in big glamorous cities. I promise not to wreck it for you if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, these are just a few of my thoughts after having done both this past week.

Components of McCandless’ grand Alaskan adventure tug relentlessly and almost perniciously at some loose threads inside me. I suspect that elements of following your passion with such unbridled drive and joy touch many of us on some level, which is why the book sold so well, and why the movie was made. I was glad I had read the book first, shading the characters, the motivations, filling in the missing chunks, but the movie was very faithful to the book.

The movie review in our local paper said that McCandless was “sanctimonious and arrogant,” and that sat so wrong with me. I surely didn’t know McCandless, and it’s easy to forget after the book and the film and a big-name soundtrack that he was actually a real person. But more than anything to me, he seemed sincere, even if the misguided optimism about his odds of success in the wild ended up fatal.

As one interviewee in the book named Sleight said, while relating Chris with another wilderness wanderer who was profiled named Everett Ruess: “Everett was strange, kind of different. But him and and McCandless, at least they tried to follow their dream. That was what was great about them. They tried. Not many do.” That, for me, was the core of the story.

I noticed that McCandless seemed to deeply affect everyone whose lives he came into, like a bolt of lightning. Everyone interviewed for the book remembered him well, much better than your standard vagrant who enters your life for a few hours or days, for a meal or a ride. But you know, I found myself empathizing with the people that McCandless left behind at every stop along the way, after he took what he needed from them — be it conversation, a father figure, travel advice, a laugh, a discussion of literature, the bouncing off of ideas and philosophical concepts. Like a blue-green bolt of ephemeral electricity he lit up their skies for a moment. But very soon, the wanderlust inside him compelled him to travel on. Everyone seemed to feel a gaping void there after Chris left, something you see especially vividly in the movie. Maybe he’s one of those shooting stars that you almost wish you’d never crossed paths with at all because everything seems dimmer in their absence, the afterglow they leave behind radiating off the otherwise dull grey walls around you.

How does the music complement the film? Very well, as I suspected. Vedder’s scoring is bittersweet and powerful, especially a memorable scene with “The Wolf,” where Vedder sounds his barbaric yawp over the roofs of this world (or actually the treeline of the Alaskan wilderness) as McCandless stands with arms outstretched on top of his bus-home, feeling the pull and glory of the wilderness. Vedder’s unselfconscious animal cries made the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

One specific lyric on the soundtrack that I keep rolling around in my mind is found in the song “Guaranteed.” Vedder sings “Circles they grow and they swallow people whole…” I keep thinking of what he may have meant by this line. I come up with more than one circle. Anyone who has ever found a certain idea hard to leave behind knows the exhaustion that comes with continuing to revisit it, as it soaks up the attention and the circle gets stronger in our minds. I wonder if McCandless escaped the beige circles of mediocre daily living, only to find himself pursuing a more savage circle of Alaskan wilderness. Both will swallow you whole.

Which one is worse?

Guaranteed – Eddie Vedder

Now that I am done reading Into the Wild, I have moved on to Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road and it is currently scaring the absolute bejesus out of me with its incinerated post-apocalyptic vision. More on that later but sheesh.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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