Song of the Day #221: ‘Masters of War’ – Eddie Vedder

vedderFrom Pearl Jam I make the rather simple leap to an Eddie Vedder solo performance. In October of 1992, a stellar lineup of artists gathered at Madison Square Garden to pay tribute to a living legend at The Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration.

Of course, Dylan has gone on to record four studio albums since then, including three that number among his very finest work, so maybe this celebration was a bit premature. But I guess it’s never too early to tip your hat to genius. I wonder what they’ll cook up for the 50th anniversary celebration three years from now.

The concert is probably best remembered for Sinead O’Connor’s performance. She took the stage just two weeks after her controversial Pope-ripping Saturday Night Live appearance and was drowned out by boos. Unable to start the song due to the crowd reaction, she eventually belted out a few verses of Bob Marley’s ‘War’ (the protest song she had sung on SNL) and left the stage in tears, comforted in the arms of Kris Kristofferson. I remember being very pleased with Kris Kristofferson for his defense of O’Connor.

I wonder if any of the boo-ers stopped to think about the irony of them drowning out a protest singer at a friggin’ Bob Dylan concert! [Here’s a video of O’Connor’s appearance if you’re interested]

The other thing I vividly remember about this concert was Eddie Vedder’s performance. He followed Lou Reed, who had given a by-the-numbers performance of the rocker ‘Foot of Pride.’ Reed read the entire song off teleprompters positioned at the foot of the stage and really pissed me off for his failure to even learn the words of his song, let alone perform it with any feeling.

So when Eddie Vedder stepped up to the mic and belted out the classic ‘Masters of War’ from memory with his eyes alternately closed and rolled up to the ceiling, clearly feeling every word, he instantly earned my respect.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #221: ‘Masters of War’ – Eddie Vedder

  1. Amy says:

    What I know about Eddie Vedder is that he wrote the music for Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. Again, I thought of him less in context of Pearl Jam and grunge music (which I didn’t even realize is how Pearl Jam would be characterized until yesterday) and more as one of these eclectic musician/artists that would typically appear in a Robert Altman film.

    So… thanks for adding another piece of the Vedder puzzle. This is a powerful performance, he has a great voice, and he’s not bad to look at either 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    Funny, that, as I watched the video and before reading Amy’s comment, I was thinking, damn, he’s pretty good looking. Does that make me a little gay?:)

    Anyway, this is, indeed, a powerful performance–nicely done. Wouldn’t mind hearing a whole album of Vedder does Dylan.

    As for the song, I always thought it was musically boring as hell, but the lyrics are so strong that it never really seemed to matter. Vedder, with his extra vocal punch, really breathes some additional life and force into this classic (and, yes, THIS is a classic) anti-war song.

  3. Dana says:

    By the way, on the Sinead incident, here’s another clip from a piece done about her that has her comments on the incident.

  4. Clay says:

    I think that makes you a lot gay… not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂

    Vedder covered another Dylan song (‘All Along the Watchtower,’ I think) on the I’m Not There soundtrack.

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