This week, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder drew criticism for comments he made regarding the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. “I swear to fucking God, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill!” Vedder proclaimed during the band’s recent concert in England. “They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the fuck out and mind their own fucking business.” While Vedder never made reference to a specific country, many Israeli news publications have since dubbed his comments as anti-Israel, as Rolling Stone reports.
In response to the criticism, Vedder recently published an open letter on the band’s website, in which he further reiterated his anti-war stance. “That’s not something I’m going to stop anytime soon,” Vedder wrote. Call me naïve. I’d rather be naïve, heartfelt and hopeful than resigned to say nothing for fear of misinterpretation and retribution.”
On Friday night during a solo show in Portugal, Vedder gave a soundtrack to his comments, as he covered John Lennon’s legendary anti-war song “Imagine” for the first time ever. “I think it is the most powerful song ever written,” Vedder said prior to the performance. “Which is why I have never played it. It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it. If you’d like join me or use your voices or hold a light there might be some people out there that need to know they are not alone.”
Watch fan-shot video below.
A transcript of Vedder’s full introduction of the song:
“You know if you are anti war, If your anti war it doesn’t mean you are pro one side or the other in a conflict. However it does make you pro many things We are not alone after all. Take this CNN, That’s good, that’s nice, or whomever.
“Well, so anti war make you pro many things. Pro peace, pro human, pro evolution, Makes you pro communication, pro diplomacy, pro love, pro understanding, pro forgiveness. You know some people don’t understand how you can be pro soldier. If you are anti war your pro soldier because you don’t want the soldier to be put in harms way. To sacrifice himself or herself for some reason that’s not…for no good reason. I have many, many…We have many, many friends of the group and through out our lives we’ve met incredible people and in the armed forces. We have an understanding and they listen our music and they get it so I’m not sure…You know sometimes if you speak out people are going to misunderstand and they take things a certain way or another. If you don’t speak out you don’t know..If someone doesn’t like it probably means it has some kind of meaning. It’s not just bullshit. It’s not just nothing. So this next song I always thought it was probably the most powerful song ever written. I think it is the most powerful song ever written. Which is why I have never played it. It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it. If you’d like join me or use your voices or hold a light there might be some people out there that need to know they are not alone.”