The Night I Met Eddie Vedder

Album Cover: The Future

"Love's the only engine of survival."
Leonard Cohen / The Future

Posted on July 23, 2010 10:07 PM in Music
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Though I haven't been shy about my love for his band Pearl Jam and I've put him on a bit of a pedestal in the past, I don't think I've ever come out and said here how I feel about Eddie Vedder. The fact of the matter is, I idolize the guy.

I caught wind of Pearl Jam a little later than most, when I made the transition from listening to Pop and R&B to Alternative music in the mid-90s. The first Pearl Jam album I bought was Vitalogy, and I was immediately hooked (it remains my favorite Pearl Jam album to this day). Next thing I knew, I was obsessing over the songs, the lyrics, and doing things like waiting outside the record store at the mall at around midnight trying to be one of the first people to get his hands on Yield.

I saw my first Pearl Jam show on July 21, 1998 and I've been going to pretty much every Seattle show possible (plus a Phoenix show at one point) since then. Anyone who follows the band closely knows their history, their penchant for shying away from the media and fan attention to which other bands often succumb. All you have to do is listen to "Not For You" to get an idea of their general outlook on fame and attention (although it has admittedly changed slightly in recent years).

Fast forward to the present, and I'm a 30 year old dad who has been exposed to a lot more of life, a lot more music, and yet my love for Pearl Jam and my admiration for its frontman have not waned. I take pleasure in deciphering Eddie Vedder's lyrics, following his evolution (if you'll forgive the pun) as a musician and songwriter, and in knowing that he's a fellow Seattleite.

To that last point, it just so happened that a family friend knew of a local event that Eddie Vedder was most likely going to attend tonight. When my wife told me this, I scoffed at the thought of him actually attending, and didn't think there was any chance we'd see him, let alone meet him, if we decided to attend the event. Nevertheless, my wife was more optimistic and pressed the issue (for my benefit). Thank the gods for that, because I'll be darned if I didn't actually meet and speak to Eddie Vedder tonight!

Toward the end of the event, my wife, my daughter and I sneakily worked our way in Eddie's direction until we were literally two feet away from him and his wife, who also attended the event. Being the pansy that I am, I couldn't work up the courage to turn and say anything, but my amazingly courageous wife could, and she said something along the lines of "Eddie, I'm really sorry to bother you but my husband is like your biggest fan." To that point, he looked at me and said "Oh, okay," as if he had never heard that line before. ;) He then commented on the event and I kind of just stood there in awe of the situation (like I said: pansy).

Handling the situation with more grace than me, he extended his hand out and shook my hand. My wife then asked if we could take pictures with him, but he said something along the lines of "How about we do it next time when there aren't so many people around?" In other words, a nice way of saying "Thanks, but no thanks." Given what I wrote previously about him and the band not wanting to attract unnecessary attention to themselves, I wasn't surprised by the answer and certainly respected it. At that point, my wife tells me that Eddie's wife kind of gave her a look like "yeah, that's not a good idea" but at the same time, Eddie said "Thanks" and gave me a look that said "you're doing me a favor" that was sincere enough for me to believe I really was. I told him it was nice to meet him, and we then went on our way.

Unfortunately, that quick turn of events means I don't have any photographic proof of our meeting, and it also means that I can't really show my daughter many years from now that she was in the presence of such a legend, but the story (which I know I will tell many, many times and to anyone who wants to listen) alone will have to suffice. It's hard to describe how I feel about the whole situation. It's very surreal, especially since it's something I've played out in my mind in the past. It was even more surreal to hear his voice on the radio only minutes later as Just Breathe played. I'm thankful to have such an amazing wife who basically made sure I met him, knowing what a big deal it would be to me. I'm also extremely grateful and proud to be able to say...

"I shook Eddie Vedder's hand."


Mike on July 26, 2010 at 4:15 PM:

Pretty amazing to be in the same venue as Eddie, let alone be able to shake his hand and say hello. Glad you have a wife that's willing to kick you in your pansy ass to make a memory that won't be forgotten.


Bernie Zimmermann on July 26, 2010 at 4:16 PM:

Me too, Mike. Me too. :)


joe on July 29, 2010 at 3:35 PM:

That's awesome! I've played out meeting my music heroes in my head a million times. Not sure what I'd do if it actually happened either...


Rutwick on January 06, 2011 at 2:58 AM:

Dude... this is one moving post man!
I actually came to your blog for some WP related read, but the catchy title got me into reading this... I had the same feeling when I saw Steven Wilson with Porcupine Tree live in Mumbai, India... Though I couldn't meet him, but seeing the great artist from just 2 meters away, was like a dream come true! :)


Awesome web journal you have here. You'll find me taking a gander at your stuff regularly. Spared!


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