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(Credit: Eduardo Pelosi)

Music

How Talking Heads saved Eddie Vedder during his parent's divorce

Eddie Vedder’s life was turned upside down when his parents filed for divorce during his childhood. Fortunately, Talking Heads were on hand to pick him up at his lowest point, and the Pearl Jam frontman has had a special place in his heart devoted to the group ever since.

The early years of Vedder’s life were relatively idyllic, and his house was consistently overflowing with people. He spent the first chunk of his childhood in San Diego, and his parents fostered several children, which meant he was never lonely. However, the good times didn’t last forever, and he’d soon become lonelier than ever following his parent’s divorce. Music was his company of choice, and it helped keep the loneliness at bay.

To add to the trauma of his parents splitting up, Vedder discovered after the divorce that the man he had been raised to believe was his dad wasn’t his biological father. It was a lot for anybody to process, let alone a teenager whose body is already full of mood-altering hormones.

When he uncovered the truth, his biological father had already passed away, and Vedder was robbed of having a relationship with him. Looking back on his father’s death with SPIN in 2020, the singer said: “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.”

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One nugget of comfort for Vedder was his love of Talking Heads, and a line from ‘No Compassion’ spoke to him during this traumatic time. During a conversation with Discogs, the Pearl Jam frontman named More Songs About Buildings and Food one of his favourite albums of all time and explained the poignant reason why he feels so strongly about the record.

He said: “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.”

During his darkest hour, Talking Heads were there for Vedder to pick him up and give him a morale boost. Throughout his career, the singer hasn’t been shy about his love of the New Wave pioneers. Pearl Jam have covered them on several occasions, most famously taking on ‘Suggestion’ during their legendary Pinkpop show in 1992, and Vedder will always be indebted to the inventive group. 

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