The Eddie Vedder guest spot was basically a requirement for any and all classic rock heroes in the 2000s. His frequent appearances with Neil Young, including an induction for the Crazy Horse leader to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, set a precedent and a message to a ton of bands: if you’ve got an open microphone, chances are, Ed knows your songs.
Perhaps the one that resonated the most with Vedder was being able to befriend and subsequently sit in with his childhood heroes, The Who, at their Royal Albert Hall show in 2000. Other appearances include singing ‘Man on the Moon’ with R.E.M. after inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 and his joining with The Doors at their own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993 — Vedder has a great relationship with the Hall, considering how he also inducted The Ramones in 2002 and got inducted himself with Pearl Jam in 2017.
Also at that Ramones induction was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who were getting inducted to the Hall on the same night. No doubt Vedder and Petty had crossed paths before, but their one and only shared stage performance came in 2006 when Vedder jumped on stage to take some vocal lines on The Heartbreakers’ classic 1981 single ‘The Waiting’.
In what should come as absolutely no surprise, Vedder knows every vocal cadence, every nuance, and every lilt like he had been listening to the song on repeat for 30 years. Petty is as laconically cool as he always seemed to be, slightly bemused by Vedder’s impassioned performance. A shared hug before the song kicks off proper is a lovely sight – the slightly shorter Vedder being held by one of his heroes like the father figure he very well probably was.
As for the song itself, it’s ‘The Waiting’ for goodness sake. It’s catchy, it’s got an awesome riff, it rocks, and it’s one of Petty’s best. Petty himself doesn’t even have to sing on it for ‘The Waiting’ to be an awesome song, but as a substitute, Vedder holds his own. Petty finally comes in for a subdued version of the bridge, which of course comes complete with a screaming guitar solo from Mike Campbell. Some might take issue with the overly reverential nature of the whole thing, but for the rest of us who just miss Petty so goddamn much, it’s a wonderfully heartwarming thing to see a solid half a decade after Petty’s tragic passing.
Check out the video of Vedder with The Heartbreakers down below.