Eddie Vedder’s smouldering vocals mixed with the opulent sounds of Pink Floyd seems like a clash of styles, but when he appeared on-stage with Roger Waters to perform ‘Comfortably Numb’, the moment turned out to be a surprising delight.
The track has always been one that comes to life on-stage, even reverting to the halcyon days of Pink Floyd. While on record, it ranks as one of the finest moments of The Wall, it was performing the song live that the vision was elevated, and a celestial experience was born from the liberation that playing to a crowd allowed.
In fact, creating the track in the studio turned out to be a laborious task for Pink Floyd, and it wasn’t until they performed ‘Comfortably Numb’ live that something clicked into place for the track.
Speaking with Absolute Radio back in 2011, Waters vividly recounted the fight that took place during its creation. He recalled, “Dave and I, when we were in the South of France where we did most of the recording for The Wall, we had quite a serious disagreement about the recording of ‘Comfortably Numb’.”
He went on to add, “It’s probably one story where his memory and my memory are almost exactly the same. It was that we had made a rhythm track, and I loved it and he thought it wasn’t precise enough rhythmically so re-cut the drum track and said ‘that’s better ‘so I went ‘no it’s not, I hate that’.”
Waters then continued by expressing the intricacies of writing music, “It’s a very strange thing when you’re a musician, and you work in these things, there are things to a Lehman which may seem like nothing that is really glaring and jarring. Though I did read that David said somewhere or other that if we listened to them both now, we wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.”
On the surface, there’s little that sonically intertwines between Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam, but Vedder has spoken in the past about the broad range of influences that inspire him as a songwriter.
“Our influences are who we are. It’s rare that anything is an absolutely pure vision; even Daniel Johnston sounds like the Beatles,” Vedder once commented. “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.”
Furthermore, his bandmate Mike McCready even opened up about how The Wall inspired Pearl Jam’s 2013 track, ‘Sirens’. He told Billboard, “Before it was called ‘Sirens,’ it was written two years ago. I was at Roger Waters concert and was completely blown away by The Wall. I wanted to write something that would have a Pink Floyd type feel.”
“We recorded a demo of it [but singer Eddie Vedder] didn’t put the lyrics on it until the second time we went back in,” he continues, “I heard them the night that he put them on there and they just brought me to tears. This is Ed at his best in my mind.”
Take some time out of your day, and watch Eddie Vedder join Roger Waters to perform a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Comfortably Numb’, which sees two icons of rock collide in devastatingly beautiful fashion.