Eddie Vedder, the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter best known as the lead vocalist of Pearl Jam, is a person whose love for music knows no bounds. It’s part of what has established his legacy as one of rock music’s finest singers.
In the 1980s, while working part-time in a petrol station in order to fund his uncontrollable thirst for music, Vedder began to make his move into the industry when he appeared as a guest contributor to Chris Cornell‘s band Temple of the Dog. It was the first taste of the stage that Vedder couldn’t ignore.
Having become close acquaintances with the numerous different figures who contributed to that band, more poignantly future Pearl Jam member Mike McCready, Vedder would later be invited to join the band alongside Ament, Gossard and the rest, they say, is history.
Influenced by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer, Black Francis, Henry Rollins and more, Vedder has never been shy to show his admiration for his alternative music colleagues and, when asked to create a list of his favourite albums of all time, the Pearl Jam man spent a solid week going back and forth on his selections. “I have some hesitation about this, because it might demystify everything,” he told Discogs about his list.
“Our influences are who we are. It’s rare that anything is an absolutely pure vision; even Daniel Johnston sounds like the Beatles.” He added: “That’s the problem with the bands I’m always asked about, the ones derivative of the early Seattle sound. They don’t dilute their influences enough.”
Despite his struggles, Vedder did manage to pull together what he considered to be the 13 records that he holds closest to his heart. While inclusions such as The Beatles, The Who, Ramones and Soundgarden should come as little surprise, Vedder did include some eye-openers in The Jackson 5 and Jim O’Rourke.
Having famously referenced Black Francis as a major influence on his career, Vedder did decide to round off his list with Pixies classic Surfer Rosa, explaining: “The Pixies were huge for me. Frank Black, or Black Francis, as he was called at the time, had this voice—he just let it loose. He’d let it rip, and weird shit would happen. It seemed not so much rebellious, but just free in the way he could just make sounds like ‘aie! aie! aie!’ and still get his point across. He was liberating himself with his voice.”
See the full list, below.
Eddie Vedder’s 13 favourite albums:
- The Jackson 5 – Third Album
- The Beatles – The Beatles
- The Who – Tommy
- Ramones – Road To Ruin
- Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings And Food
- Various – Music And Rhythm
- Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
- Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance
- Fugazi – 13 Songs
- Soundgarden – Screaming Life / Fopp
- Mudhoney – Mudhoney
- Tom Waits – Nighthawks At The Diner
- Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Speaking specifically about Tom Waits in the interview, Vedder added: “I like the fact that you can’t really categorise this music,” in reference to Waits’ album Nighthawks At The Diner. “I want to come up with a Tom Waits-ish line about Tom Waits: ‘Tom Waits for no man.’ [Laughs] I think he once said that he prides himself on making good background music. But if you try to dissect it or even play along with the stuff, you realise it’s got all these chord changes that are never played straight.”
He added: “They sound like they’re morphing, and the result sounds like an old car that needs a tune-up. You end up with all these sounds that create rhythm, and it’s the perfect bed for a voice.”
Stream a playlist of the albums, below.