Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is a self-professed Talking Heads obsessive and, while there seeming isn’t a great deal of correlation between his work and that of the new wave icons, his fierce cover of their track ‘Love → Building on Fire’ is nothing short of sublime.
In 2020, when Pearl Jam shared their single ‘Dance of The Clairvoyants’ from their latest album Gigaton, the song surprised many as it was a far cry from the sound drenched in grunge that people had become accustomed to from the group for over the 30-years. The song was Vedder’s opportunity to channel his inner David Byrne, something he waited forever to do. While the change in direction surprised many Pearl Jam fans, the singer has never hidden his adoration for Talking Heads. The song was the sound of Vedder finally sparking up the courage to have a pop at replicating a distinct sound has always been awe-stuck by.
Vedder previously named Talking Heads’ stunning More Songs About Building and Food as one of his favourite records of all time, commenting: “After the Ramones, it was more about new wave for me than punk. I forget which album it’s on, but there’s a song with the lyrics ‘Be a little more selfish.’ My parents were splitting up around this time, and I was thinking how everyone else’s family is going well and mine was splitting up. That line really hit me and got me out of that way of thinking.”
‘Love → Building on Fire’ is one for loyal Talking Heads fans. The 1977 stand-alone single was the first track the band released after signing to Sire records and was one of the first bricks put down in the wall by the New York new-wave outfit in creating their legacy. It says something about the strength of their debut album, Talking Heads: 77, that they could afford to leave a track off that oozes as much class like this but, if there was one thing that Talking Heads never lacked, it was infectious music.
With Pearl Jam, Vedder has covered Talking Heads on a number of occasions throughout their esteemed career. During their famous show at Pinkpop Festival in 1992, the band delivered a rousing rendition of ‘Suggestion’ that appeared on the New Yorkers’ debut and their headline set at Brazil’s Lollapalooza in 2018.
However, ‘Love → Building on Fire’ is the one that seems to have the closest place to Vedder’s heart and is one that he has wheeled out throughout his career the most. During a 1999 tour with C-Average, the anthem became a stalwart of their sets and Vedder has occasionally snuck it into Pearl Jam shows.
Then in 2017, while appearing at the Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concert in Boston, Vedder wheeled out the track once more and delivered a faultless cover that included as much passion as one as come to expect from the Pearl Jam leader.
Take a few moments out to enjoy Vedder taking on the Talking Heads classic, below.