Eddie Vedder earned his legacy as the lead vocalist and guitarist of Pearl Jam, but over his three decades in the business, he has shown himself to be much more than a one-trick pony.
Pearl Jam became one of the leading bands of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, alongside the giants, Nirvana. While all of the band members were prominent in their fields, Vedder’s vocal capability was one of the strongest strings to their bow.
First showing his songwriting prowess in the realm of grunge, Vedder soon split away for side projects and solo exploits, allowing him to tap into the full range of his musical influences. With a penchant for acoustic guitar playing, Vedder was never one to shirk folk or country-inspired compositions.
Vedder’s solo work is best known for his various contributions to film soundtracks. His first flirtation with the big screen came in 1995 when he created the score for Dead Man Walking, a film starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, following a man on death row appealing for his acquittal.
Following this successful score, Vedder was famously commissioned to provide a beautiful rendition of The Beatles’ ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ for the 2001 film, also starring Sean Penn, I Am Sam. Later soundtrack contributions included those for A Brokedown Melody (2004), Body of War (2007) and Eat Pray Love (2010).
Undoubtedly Vedder’s most acclaimed soundtrack contribution was that for the 2007 film Into the Wild. The film was based on the 1996 non-fictional book by Jon Krakauer that followed the remarkable story of explorer Christopher McCandless. Vedder contributed an entire album’s worth of songs to soundtrack the film.
In a 2009 interview with Uncut, Vedder was asked what his inspirations were when writing the soundtrack for the Sean Penn directed Into The Wild. “When I was 12, I remember seeing the movie, Harold And Maude, a film that is accompanied by several Cat Stevens songs,” Vedder replied. “Cat’s voice represents the interior voice of the character throughout the movie, and he does it absolutely perfectly.”
He continued: “It’s a perfect synergy between film and music, and it really inspired me to try writing for film. Take the final scene, where it looks like Harold is going to drive off the cliff, with the rain hitting the windshield, and you know how he feels. Suddenly they play ‘Trouble’ by Cat Stevens, and it’s utterly overwhelming, heartbreaking. So seeing it work there made me think I could give it a go.”
Listen to ‘Society’ from Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack for Into the Wild below.