Dear Eddie

Dear Eddie Vedder:

I think you'll agree that we've been growing apart for some time now. In the 1990s, we were the best of friends. I would listen to "Nothing Man" or "rearviewmirror" in my car and wallow in sentimentality. Your soaring vocals, stories of alienation, and big, swelling power ballads were the soundtrack of my single, living-alone-with-my-cat years. That time I saw you in concert was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.

To put it plainly, I ate that shit up.

But now, as I careen toward 40, I'm sorry to have to tell you that I've found someone new. He likes to wear tight red clothes and pretend that his ex-wife is his sister. He doesn't dabble in rock star politics or play benefit concerts for the Democratic party. His lyrics don't talk about young women escaping smothering relationships. He writes playful songs about losing his manners, or settling down with a nice girl. He plays the blues and the marimba. He moves effortlessly between projects and always comes up with something new.

You and Pearl Jam, however, haven't really made the transition to the 21st century with me. I bought your most recent album and felt like I was back in 1995. (That's not a good feeling, trust me.) I didn't get choked up at any of the songs. I didn't feel any teenaged angst or righteous anger. Actually, I felt kind of bored.

Songs from the other new album I bought recently keep ringing in my head. I've only had the CD a couple of days now, but I find myself humming phrases from it in the grocery store. "You're making me hungry...." "My blue veins..." "You've got to learn to give and wait your turn..."

It makes me happy, and gives me hope. Sorry.

Good luck with that whole comeback thing,



Annalee said...

There was a super scary article in Entertainment Weekly a couple of weeks back about how Pearl Jam are being groomed to become the new Grateful Dead. Apparently they have a similar fanbase, or at least their handlers are trying to manufacture a similar fanbase.

I long ago turned to the Mountain Goats ( for my angst and beauty. Try "The Coroner's Gambit," "All Hail West Texas" or "The Sunset Tree." It's singer-songwriter mania of the very best sort.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer,

Yes, I agree that we’ve been growing apart steadily through the years, but I also think it’s unfair to attribute the cause to me. To quote a lyric from another of your 1990s best friends, “you are someone else, I am still right here.” Why have you forsaken me?

And as far as the DNC benefit concerts are concerned, only someone who truly understands alienation can speak to the disenfranchised in a way that means something to them. That’s my job. I’m glad that you have grown and changed. I’m pleased to hear that you’ve expanded your horizons, as well as your group of friends. But, really, could you have done it without me? I was your metaphorical shoulder to cry on. I was there for you when you needed me most. Without me by your side, a sad little angel of despair who whispered “it’s alright to feel this way” into your ear, how could you have made it through those lonely years? It was only through me that you were able to achieve this growth and move on. But now you must understand that I have a new generation of living-alone-with-their-cats women to comfort. To encourage acceptance for the sad hands of fate they are dealt. To help them, like you, move on.

It’s a difficult thing, growing older. Our friends move on, our jobs change, our families change. And for you, Jennifer, your taste in music has changed. But Jack White? Seriously? “I’m thinkin’ ‘bout my doorbell, when you gonna ring it?” Is that so much different than “Better Man?” And if so, is it any better than that dreadful Wings song? You know it, the one that goes “somebody’s knocking at my door, somebody’s ringing the bell.” Or do you listen to that now, too?

So, where you once found solace in my music, you now find hope in White’s. But remember that there isn’t a pancake so thin it doesn’t have two sides. My music, in its way, also instills hope. It allows people to deal with the unpleasant situations they’re in and get past them. It’s not some making-ugly-girls-cry Morrissey album, completely devoid of any positive outcome. It’s transitional. Perhaps it’s what helped you transition to the more playful stylings of the White Stripes. Again, I really think you should be thanking me.

In the end, I am saddened that we must part ways. It’s especially difficult when we’ve been so intimate. But I suppose that’s the price of intimacy; it’s a double-edged sword. Because once the intoxication of intimacy has passed, it’s nothing but exposure. It is our nakedness and vulnerability when faced with the truth that we are merely the sums of our embarrassments and inadequacies. Apparently, I have become both in your life.

I’m happy for you, Jennifer. Really, I am. Thank you for your kind wishes on our comeback, and for your Dear John (or Eddie) letter. Good luck with that whole nouveau-Mitch-Ryder-Motown-Country-Garage Revival thing. I will miss you. I wish I could come along on your journey to the 21st century, but I’ve got my work to do here.

Adieu, old friend.


Jennifer said...

Dear Eddie:

Hey, thanks for the long distance psychoanalysis. I wouldn't think you'd have time to write, what with that sold-out world tour and all...

There's probably some truth to what you're saying. Maybe your current album has the same resonance for a young twentysomething single chick as your old stuff did for me. If so, that's swell. I still get choked up listing to your early work, particularly this quote from Nothing Man, which has always had a particular resonance for me, and which seems appropos to our current relationship:

She once believed
In every story he had to tell
One day she stiffened
Took the other side

Empty stares
From each corner of a shared prison cell
One just escapes
One's left inside the well

True dat, my friend. True dat.

Have fun back there in the '90s! I'll give my best to Jack and Meg for you.


Anonymous said...

yeah, I bought the latest Pearl Jam, and all this Cindy Sheehan crap and all this liberal propeganda is getting old. Not to mention the material's growing stale b/c of it. I think Peal Jam's tired of it too. So maybe if you do another, make it something that we can connect to. Jeremy, Alive, Evenflow, c'mon guys...