Eddie Vedder hasn’t been as prolific with side-projects as his Pearl Jam bandmates: Stone Gossard used to have a band called Brad (R.I.P. Shawn Smith) and currently is a band called Painted Shield; he’s also done solo records. Jeff Ament has been part of Three Fish, Tres Mtns. and RNDM, and has put out a bunch of solo songs. Matt Cameron’s discography includes a number of projects including Hater, Wellwater Conspiracy, Harrybu McCage and Ten Commandos. Mike McCready, meanwhile, has been a member of Mad Season and the Rockfords.
Vedder, meanwhile, has just three solo albums to his name, so far: but it turns out that he has a pretty impressive discography outside of the band. He’s frequently contributed songs to various artist compilations, done one-off singles, and collaborated with other artists. Here are some of our favorite Vedder moments outside of Pearl Jam.
In 2020, Pearl Jam was supposed to be on tour for their ‘Gigaton’ album, but of course, that didn’t happen. Vedder did make some home recordings during the year, which he collected on this EP. The title track - a lovely piano ballad - was the highlight.
Another pandemic-era jam. This was co-written by Elton, Eddie and producer Andrew Watt, who soon got the gig producing Vedder’s solo album ‘Earthling,’ and – at press time – is scheduled to produce the next Pearl Jam record. While much of Elton’s album saw him eyeing the pop charts and working with Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Charlie Puth and Lil Nas X, here, he goes back to his early barnstorming rock and roll form.
Eddie and Pearl Jam have always championed legendary (and underappreciated) L.A. punk rock band X. Here, Eddie and the Supersuckers cover X’s “Poor Girl” for this benefit album, which raised funds for the legal defense of the “West Memphis Three,” three men who, while teenagers in 1994, were tried and convicted of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis. The three were later set free – it’s a complicated story and you can learn more about them by checking out the documentaries ‘Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,’ ‘Paradise Lost 2: Revelations,’ and ‘Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.’
Eddie Vedder has also always championed New Zealand’s Crowded House and Split Enz (both of which featured brothers Tim and Neil Finn). On a Pearl Jam break, Eddie joined Neil’s touring band – which also included Johnny Marr of the Smiths and Ed O’Brien of Radiohead. Eddie took lead vocals on this Split Enz ballad with Neil accompanying him up on piano and backing vocals.
Early on, Pearl Jam was closely associated with basketball; their original name, Mookie Blaylock, was a tribute to an NBA legend. But Vedder is also incredibly passionate about baseball, particularly his beloved Chicago Cubs and this song was a love letter to the band and their long-suffering fans. 2008 marked the *one hundredth* anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series title. Eight years later, in 2016, they actually did go all the way and won it again.
This comes close to being a Pearl Jam song - Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready and their then-new drummer Jack Irons backed Neil on this album. “Peace and Love” was the album’s one Young-Vedder duet and made us wish that Neil would just take Pearl Jam on the road as his backing band.
‘Into The Wild’ was Vedder’s debut solo album, but it also served as the soundtrack to the film of the same name, a true story about a guy who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. “Setting Forth” is less than two minutes loong, and sets the scene for both the album and the film.
Eddie has often spoken of his admiration for Bruce Springsteen, and this was a pretty cool tribute. This live performance was recorded at the Kennedy Center Honors, with both Springsteen and President Obama in the audience.
Vedder is also a huge Ramones fan, even joining them onstage at their final concert (and later presenting them at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction). For his contributions to the Rob Zombie-produced Ramones tribute album, he recruited Seattle hardcore band Zeke. They also recorded “Daytime Dilemma,” but “I Believe In Miracles” was the better of the two tracks and almost sounds like it was written with Ed in mind.
Vedder’s second solo album allowed him to indulge in his love for the ukulele (hence the title). But these are some of his saddest lyrics - and you can see why he’d rather keep them for a solo project than share them with the band. They’re so personal: “I should have known there was someone else/Down below I always kept it to myself/Now I believe in nothin', not today/As I move myself out of your sight/I'll be sleeping by myself tonight.”
The song is originally from ‘Rough Mix,’ the duo album by Townshend and Ronnie Lane from Faces. Here, Vedder joined his idol at a stripped-down show, where Townshend performed accompanied only by a keyboard player. Townshend took some of Lane’s lines, while Vedder took Townshend’s. It was a great reimagining of an underrated classic song.
Almost a prelude to his next solo album, ‘Ukulele Songs,’ on “Rise,” Vedder shows how much one could do with just your voice and four strings. (Although he’d previously made that point on Pearl Jam’s 2000 song “Soon Forget,” which was essentially a solo Vedder jam).
Tom Morello joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as a touring guitarist in 2013 (filling in for Steven Van Zandt who was busy shooting ‘Lilyhammer’). Morello suggested a bunch of unusual covers for Springsteen, including Van Halen’s “Jump,” and this AC/DC classic. When they were touring in Australia, Eddie Vedder joined them onstage for this jam. A few years later, Morello roped Vedder and Springsteen in for a studio version. It’s a blast and it’s a rare treat to hear Vedder singing a fun hard rock jam.
Here, Vedder joined his favorite band on stage for a classic jam from ‘Quadrophenia,’ a song originally sung by Pete Townshend. It’s clearly a song that resonates with Vedder - he played it at his Ohana Festival shows in 2021.
‘Ukulele Songs’ covers a lot of ground. “Sleeping By Myself” is about a relationship ending, but on “Longing To Belong,” Vedder celebrates a new one. “I dream of circles, perfect eyes within your face/My heart's an open wound that only you'd replace.” In other words, his heart will go on.
“Why contain yourself/Like any other book on the shelf?” Vedder asks in this jam, which narrates the story in ‘Into The Wild’ when the film’s protagonist decides to take his trip into the wilderness.
The entire ‘I Am Sam’ soundtrack consisted of Beatles covers. The producers originally planned on using Beatles recordings, but they were unable to get the rights to them. However, they did have permission to record new versions of the songs… they just had to replace the originals in the already-cut film. That surely limited what the artists could do with their versions, since they had to fit exactly into timeslots in the film. Despite that limitation, Vedder’s cover of this classic song from ‘Help!’ is excellent, and he added his own touch, replacing the flute with his harmonica.
This hasn’t been released anywhere but you can find it on YouTube; the frontmen became a duo for a three-song set at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival, and this Crowded House classic was the highlight of their performance.
One of Vedder’s most popular solo jams, it’s actually a cover of an artist called Indio, who released just one album, ‘Big Harvest,’ in 1989. The song’s writer actually sued Vedder over his version, but the suit was dismissed. “Hard Sun” is one of the highlights of Vedder’s solo concerts.
It’s one of two songs that the unlikely duo of Vedder and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan recorded for ‘Dead Man Walking’ – the other was a version of Pearl Jam’s “Long Road.” Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a Pakistani vocalist/musician/composer who mostly sang qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music. It was an inspired pairing and “Face Of Love” was one of the most powerful moments on an excellent soundtrack.
Mike Watt was a universally revered figure in the alternative rock world in the ‘80s and ‘90s. His former band, the Minutemen, were incredibly influential but never had a radio hit. A few of his disciples tried to change that with his first solo album: besides Vedder and Grohl, members of the Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction, Sonic Youth, the Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr. contributed to the album. This song, released during the peak of Pearl Jam’s popularity, actually did make it to the radio. Watt’s touring band for this album, believe it or not, consisted of Vedder and Pat Smear on guitars and Grohl on drums. The Foo Fighters were second on the bill (it was their very first tour). And Vedder’s then-wife’s band, Hovercraft, was on the bill as well (Vedder was their drummer). What a time to be alive.
A song written for the film by a singer/songwriter named Jerry Hannan. The line “Society, you’re a crazy breed/I hope you're not lonely without me,” hits especially hard, given the fate of the film’s main character.
Vedder shows off his Tom Petty influence on this jam; it’s hard to imagine the Eddie Vedder of the ‘90s being ok with such a well-recorded straight ahead mellow rock song. But, one of the cool things about growing up is getting over hang-ups, and no longer worrying about indie cred.
The closing song from ‘Into The Wild,’ it serves as a mournful goodbye from the film’s protagonist. The song won Vedder a Golden Globe.
Vedder deals with loss movingly: “If I could wish, wish it away/I would bleed out my knees and pray/If I could give, all that I have/To bring him back today.” Did Vedder write it about Chris Cornell? It doesn’t matter, really: the sign of a great song is when you can apply it to yourself. And this is one of Vedder’s finest.
In the fall of 1992, a cavalcade of legends – Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Johnny Cash, the O’Jays, John Mellencamp, Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed and Willie Nelson – played a huge Dylan tribute concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready weren’t very well-known at the time: Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ was a little over a year old. But with this powerful performance, they established themselves as peers of rock, folk and country’s greatest artists. It was also an early example of Vedder throwing down the gauntlet and telling you where he stands politically.
This song was Vedder’s introduction to the world. When Temple of the Dog - a band featuring Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron and Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Mike McCready – recorded their album, Soundgarden was already enjoying huge momentum in the alternative rock and hard rock worlds, thanks to a couple of SubPop EPs, and their first two albums, ‘Ultramega OK’ (SST Records) and ‘Louder Than Love’ (their major-label debut). Pearl Jam had yet to release ‘Ten’; in fact, both albums were being recorded simultaneously. Cornell, obviously, was a great singer, a huge presence and something of a star in his niche. But he was cool with letting Vedder, a newcomer, duet with him as an equal. And it gave the world a preview of the voice that would become a massive presence in popular music for the next decade.