Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder opens up about the “spiritual energy” of his late father, being friends with his rock star heroes (including Bruce Springsteen), and navigating a “terrifying” COVID-19 reality in the latest installment of the Daddy Issues podcast, hosted by sportscaster Joe Buck and actor Oliver Hudson. Listen below.
Early on in the wide-ranging segment, the frontman looks back at the mysteries of his father, who died from multiple sclerosis in the early ’80s — having only met briefly met him. (Vedder’s parents divorced before his second birthday.)
“I have this image, this spiritual energy up there somewhere where I can feel him look after me,” he says. “Sometimes I’d feel I’m playing certain songs or certain places and I’d feel like his energy — like, ‘I think he’s watching his kid right now.’”
Vedder ponders what sort of relationship he could have formed with his father, had he lived longer. “Who knows where his trajectory was headed? He could have turned into a complete knucklehead. He could have been an asshole drunk who tried to pick up groupies backstage. Who knows? So in a weird way, he died young enough to not fuck me over personally. He kinda gets to be on a pedestal, [and] I’m happy for him for that.”
Later in the episode, the singer talks about the exhilaration and discomfort of touring alone behind his solo debut LP, 2007’s Into the Wild soundtrack. He initially felt uncomfortable onstage, but “one gem of advice” from Springsteen changed his entire mindset.
“There’s a real power when it’s just one person up there,” he recalls of Springsteen saying. “It’s terrifying — for the audience even. It’s a tight-wire act. There’s just something, an intimacy in it, and there’s a power in it.” He added, “That was one of the greatest things to hear because suddenly [I] didn’t feel as vulnerable.”
After reflecting on the improvisation and raw energy of Pearl Jam’s live show, Vedder pauses to consider the uncertainty of live music. “As I’m saying this, I’m realizing we have not done that in a while,” he says. “I’m getting shaky here — it’s crazy to think we don’t know when that might happen again. And terrifying.”
Vedder, a frequently outspoken critic of the Trump administration, also blasts the White House for attempting to discredit the nation’s top infectious expert (and “the one voice of reason”), Dr. Anthony Fauci, amid the pandemic. On a lighter note, he gushes about his love of The Who, noting that “one of life’s greatest thrills, greatest fortunes” is being friends with his idols.
Daddy Issues — described as an “honest, unfiltered look at what it’s like to be a father, a son and a brother navigating the world today” — has previously featured guests like Bill Simmons, Mark Cuban, Joel McHale, Nikki Glaser, Alex Rodriguez and David Spade.
The podcast is available to stream on Apple, Google, Spotify, Castbox and Stitcher.