Eddie Vedder is the newest guest on Mind Wide Open, a new Instagram TV series hosted by Chris Cornell’s daughter Lily Cornell Silver that focuses on issues of mental health. Their wide-ranging discussion touched on everything from Vedder’s methods for coping with depression to what he’s learned from Pete Townshend and Bruce Springsteen to memories of hanging out in the wilderness with Chis Cornell.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been that comfortable giving advice,” Vedder says early in the interview. ” I think that I’m good at taking advice. I think that I’m coachable. My advice would be to take advice.” Here are 10 things we learned from the duo’s insightful discussion.
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I am honored to be joined by a guiding light in my life, Eddie Vedder of @pearljam. We discuss societal and political impacts on mental health, Eddie's own experiences, and the importance of activism and empathy. Reminder to register to vote if you haven't already! To learn more about the importance of voting, especially in the upcoming November election, check out organizations such as @whenweallvote, @headcountorg, and @rockthevote For more information on guests, future episodes, and resources go to the website link in my bio 💙
1. Vedder learned that Lily was born minutes before Pearl Jam walked onstage at Roskilde in 2000. “It was cold and it was raining,” Vedder said of the event in which nine people were trampled to death. “There wasn’t a couch in our trailer. There was just a cooler and a deli tray. We got the news that our good friends Chris and Susan had just had a child. Her name was Lily. We kind of cried some tears of joy. We all gave each other a hug. That was a huge, huge moment. And then we went out with you on our minds — you who we hadn’t even met yet — and we were feeling empowered and emotional. And then maybe 40 minutes into the show these terrible events happened.”
2. In the aftermath of the festival, Vedder turned to Pete Townshend for advice. “There I was in a fetal position, basically,” said Vedder. “I was doing a little bit of ‘woe is me’ and ‘why did this happen to us?’ And Pete said, ‘Because you can handle it.’ It empowered me to get my shit together. Don’t feel sorry and don’t react. Respond.”
3. Shortly after the recording of Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger in 1991, Vedder and Chris Cornell went on an epic nature hike together. “We went swimming in the coldest ice pools and we climbed these green mountains and then onto this rock mountain,” said Vedder. “The rocks [started] crumbling. All of a sudden, we were both just like two Spiderman impersonators hanging onto the side of this thing, not being able to move. Just stuck and 50 feet above the fucking valley floor. We just started laughing almost to tears. The situation was so ridiculous. Nobody knew where we were.”
4. Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC was a source of inspiration for Vedder. “Every word resonated,” he said. “She’s not just speaking to us. She’s speaking for us. She had come out a week ago and said she felt it was like a low-level depression, which I think we can all share in. There are so many questions; so many loose ends and we don’t know when we will take a solid turn towards normalcy. It’s probably going to get harder with the election before it gets better. It’s a good time to be reminded and get some of those powerful words from Michelle.”
5. He’s very optimistic about the future. “With racism and same-sex marriage and so many issues out there, I think in one or two generations it’s not going to be how it’s been,” Vedder said. “It feels like the death grip to me of white supremacy. I feel like that’s why it’s so intense right now. In some ways, it could be the last grasp of that stuff.”
6. He was also inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 memoir Born to Run. “Bruce talks about depression in his book,” Vedder says. “You watch him onstage and the hold that he has, he’s solid as a mountain. He knows how to make 60,000 people happy. But going home and being happy at home is a tougher thing. He credits not just his wife, but some great therapy. And now he’s a brilliant guy to seek advice from himself.”
7. The tremendous success of Pearl Jam’s debut LP Ten left him stunned. “There is some sad shit on there,” he said. “[I remember thinking], ‘Wow, this kind of depressing that tens of millions of people are relating to this.’ Who knew? It was probably a healthy thing for everybody.”
8. He feels the anguish expressed in grunge music was totally genuine. “Your dad and I talked about music or art as a place of release,” he says. “Obviously he had [his] music and those are some dark lyrics. Kurt [Cobain]’s lyrics, those were some dark lyrics. Layne [Staley]’s lyrics [too]. These weren’t people going, ‘I’m going to pretend to write a dark song.’ It was real for everybody … It became a thing to make fun of the dour grunge groups. I think people took it personally. They were like, ‘We weren’t fucking around.’ That’s probably why people liked it and seemed to need it. ‘This guy is speaking for me. I feel these things.’”
9. In his younger years, he found strength and wisdom from records during hard times. “I was living on my own,” he says. My parents had split up. They moved to two different places. I was working and I had some issues and some problems. I remember there was a Talking Heads lyric [‘No Compassion’] that was, ‘It’s not cool to have so many problems … Be a little more selfish. It might do you some good.’ I used to get a lot of wisdom and knowledge just from records. Pete Townshend would help me out. David Byrne was helping me out. I trusted them more than I trusted the knucklehead assistant principal who was trying to bust me for smoking pot or showing up late, but he didn’t know I was working until 2 a.m. at the drug store to pay rent.”
10. He’s helping his two daughters navigate their own issues. “We have had some deep talks,” he says. “One of the things I talk about with those girls at their age is how much they are attached to technology and things like that. ‘Here’s using it for good…’ But there’s also a kind of warped rabbit hole of modern day society, especially effecting young girls because it has to do with likes. I think we’ve been cautious with some of that stuff.”