David Letterman and Eddie Vedder go back quite a long ways, with their connection so deep that the former Late Show host inducted Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Last night, Vedder returned the favor by taking part in a ceremony honoring Letterman as the 20th recipient of the Mark Twain Prize For American Humor.
While past honorees Steve Martin and Billy Murray were present at the Kennedy Center event alongside the likes of Joh Mulaney, Jimmy Kimmel, and Amy Schumer, Vedder’s tribute was a touchingly unique one. With Letterman’s former partner in crime Paul Shaffer behind him on piano, Vedder covered Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me In Your Heart”. The song choice was not a haphazard one; Letterman and Zevon shared an equally close relationship before the latter passed away in 2003. “Keep Me In Your Heart” comes from Zevon’s final album, The Wind, which was written while he was dying of lung cancer.
Zevon appeared on Letterman’s show many times over the years, including in 2002 shortly after his diagnosis. The conversation was a touching testament to their years of friendship, and Vedder bringing it full circle with his performance Sunday night was a poignant way of highlighting just how important Letterman has been in the lives of his companions.
Take a look at the cover via fan shot video above, and revisit Zevon and Letterman’s 2002 interview below. A proper broadcast of last night’s event will air on PBS beginning Monday, November 20th.