10 Times Eddie Vedder's Voice Blew Us Away

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam performs during Pearl Jam: MTV Unplugged at Kaufman Astoria Studios on March 16, 1992 in New York City. 

When it seems that everything has already been said about a rock star, it's best to let the music do the talking. Eddie Vedder has been rocking and writing music for decades and his voice should be celebrated whenever possible. Luckily, his birthday is another excuse to do so. These 10 songs were selected because of their impact -- a couple of them covers -- to demonstrate Vedder’s ability to fill in for other legends in music.

“Black” MTV Unplugged (1992)
“I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star, in somebody else's sky but why can't it be mine?”

Notice the way Vedder takes hold of the mic, closes his eyes and possibly drifts into another world. His ability to deliver pure emotion is just one of his many gifts. Vedder said “the song is about letting go,” but at 4:55 when he tugs right at the heartstrings, you’ll never want to. It peaked at No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

“Oceans” (1992)
“I will be there once more.”

Pearl Jam’s Ten gave us the beginning of the band and a single (among several) that has always stood out. “Oceans” is short, beautiful, and a song I find myself listening to several times in a row, to get the full effect. Whether the song is about love (or a surfboard), does it really matter?

The Doors and Eddie Vedder "Light My Fire" (1993)
“Try to set the night on fire.”

No one can replace Jim Morrison -- but Eddie Vedder is a worthy stand in. During the 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Vedder fronts The Doors’ 1967 hit “Light My Fire.” He gets way into it and that last “firrrrre” at 7:45 is just that. Cue the standing O.

Temple Of The Dog “Hunger Strike” (1991)
“I can't feed on the powerless when my cup's already overfilled.”

A genius (and unplanned) duet between Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell marking Vedder's first recorded vocal for a major record. The song peaked at No. 4 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

The Rolling Stones and Eddie Vedder “Wild Horses” (2005)
“Let's do some living after we die.”

Another genius duet between two of the most famous frontmen in rock history, this time with The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger. When Vedder takes the stage, he gets a bump of encouragement from Keith Richards before the magic begins.

"Not For You" (2000)
“F--k you. This is not for you.”

Perhaps you've heard that Pearl Jam is not the biggest fan of Ticketmaster. "Not For You" is dedicated to anyone who has messed with the integrity of the music -- and more importantly, profited from the music. The song peaked at No. 12 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

“Do The Evolution” (1998)
“It’s evolution baby.”

The song, “a riff on human arrogance,” marked Pearl Jam's first music video since "Jeremy." In a 1998 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Vedder said the song is about “someone who's drunk with technology, who thinks they're the controlling living being on this planet.” It peaked at No. 33 on the Alternative Songs chart.

“Just Breathe” (2009)
“Hold me 'til I die. Meet you on the other side.”

Vedder described the song "as close to a love song as we've ever gotten." It peaked at No. 36 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

“I Am Mine” (2002)
“We're all different behind the eyes.”

The song, about personal freedom, was written following the tragedy at Denmark's Roskilde Festival, where nine fans died during the band’s set. It peaked at No. 6 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

“Jeremy” (1992)
“Jeremy spoke in class today.”

3:30 in the afternoon. An affluent suburb. 64 degrees and cloudy.

The powerhouse track, inspired by a story Vedder read in the newspaper about a student who killed himself in from of his class, was overshadowed by its controversial music video, taking home Best Video of the Year at the 1993 MTV VMAs. It was the popularity of this video which led to Pearl Jam taking a step back from making them. The band’s next visual being the animated “Do The Evolution,” in which the band does not appear (see above).

There’s no denying Vedder’s gradual breakdown, as he takes you on an emotional ride that culminates with the exploding vocals, “try to forget this, try to erase this, from the blackboard” followed by an array of “ah ha’s” echoing until the end. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart.


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