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Monday, August 24, 2009

Nephew Eddie and Uncle Neil

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Neil Young and Booker T. & MGs, Pearl Jam & Blind Melon
The Gorge, Washington
September 5, 1993
Poster by Frank Kozik


We'll probably never forget the shows we saw back in 1995 when Neil Young and Crazy Horse opened for Pearl Jam at the Voters For Choice Benefit concerts at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.. The song debuts of "Act of Love" and "Song X" absolutely floored us particularly in the context of the times.

The V4C concerts were held shortly after the murders of abortion clinic workers Lee Ann Nichols and Shannon Lowney by an anti-choice zealot and the tension in the air those evenings was quite palpable. And Neil's performance of "Act of Love" with it's stark questions on the issue of personal choice and freedom was just another example of making music for the times and ages.

We went on at length in our review posted to rust@death at the time about Eddie Vedder had just inducted Neil Young into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the evening before. About Pearl Jam concluded their set by reprising "Act of Love" during which Neil came out and jammed with them on the song's second performance of the night.

So with Pearl Jam on the road, the point of this post is to recap just a bit of their long history with Neil. We've had a core page on Pearl Jam and Neil Young that hasn't been updated in awhile but here's a few items to tie in.

Just this week, Eddie Vedder covered "Sugar Mountain" and "The Needle and the Damage Done".

From The Globe and Mail:
"Singer Eddie Vedder casually walked on stage first with a smallish acoustic guitar, said “surprise, surprise,” spoke of his experience of once riding the Ferris wheel with iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young at the nearby Canadian National Exhibition, and then gently strummed Young's Sugar Mountain , a song about carnival barkers, coloured balloons and leaving one's youth behind.

Saying he hoped he wouldn't misplay the next selection, Vedder then offered The Needle and the Damage Done , a sorrowful ode containing the line, “I sing the song because I love the man.” The impromptu performance came on a day in which Vedder had spoken to the Globe and Mail. Mostly he talked about Pearl Jam's forthcoming album Backspacer , but the subject of the mentoring Young was broached. “We learned a lot from Uncle Neil,” Vedder said. “Him adopting us as his nephews has taught [Pearl Jam] immeasurably, on numerous levels. Things about music and about humanity, either by watching him, or hearing what he comes up with, or by conversations we've had.”"

More on Pearl Jam and Neil Young.


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9 Comments:

At 8/25/2009 01:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.exploremusic.com/exclusives/2009-08-21/Alan-Cross-Chats-with-Pearl-Jams-Eddie-Vedder

Great Vedder interview done by Alan Cross. Talks about the new PJ album, the influence of Uncle Neil, and how both are digging the Archives.

 
At 8/25/2009 04:18:00 AM, Blogger Greg M (A Friend Of Yours) said...

I'll be honest, I don't know a thing about Pearl Jam, outside of Mirror Ball and Vedders unique voice (and man, what an album MB is). But I have a producer friend who has worked with some big names, and he told me a story about a big name who's lead guitarist began to contribute vocally. In the presence of this big name- known mostly for his voice, the lead guitarist recieved praise for his vocal contribution. From that day forward, that was the end of the lead guitarist's vocal participation. I thought, geez, why wouldn't the big name want the best for someone else he's working with?

It's nice to see Neil and PJ reveling in each other with mutual respect, and not letting ego get in the way. You know, there's enough room for everyone and everything, it's not a zero sum game. Let's not fight over pieces of the pie, let's let the pie get bigger and bigger. Neil opening for PJ?- that's something that brought me up short, but not Neil obviously. Would Mr. big name be up for this? I don't think so.

 
At 8/25/2009 12:42:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

Greg makes some good points. I've always said that Cooperation is the real force for progress. Competition often stifles it, for the very reasons mentioned above.

It is great that Neil and PJ have a very cooperative relationship. It's very healthy for music, and more people should strive to take their example to heart.

Imagine if all of us musicians and people out there writing music were a force of cooperation, artistically and financially, instead of always being in competition with each other?

There is some fun in one-upsmanship, but truly relevatory and beautiful stuff comes out of egoless cooperation and collaboration in our creativity.

 
At 8/25/2009 02:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great timing for this post. PJ is playing in San Francisco Golden Gate Park for the first time since 1995 this coming Friday.

Hopefully, Eddie will not get "sick" again from sushi food poisoning.

In June 1995, Uncle Neil filled in (and saved the day) for Eddie. Neil and PJ played most of Mirror Ball live. Mirror Ball was release 3 days later!

 
At 8/26/2009 02:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg - do reveal who "Mr. Big Name" is. You don't tell a story like that without revealing who it is.

What's your point?

As for Neil opening for PJ....well, at that time, PJ was the biggest band in the world (or at least top 3). No disrespect to Neil...but to the general population he was a small blip compared Pearl Jam at that time.

Remember when Neil filled in for Eddie (when Eddie got sick) and Neil basically got booed? The fans were there to see Pearl Jam, not grandpa Neil.

 
At 8/27/2009 04:08:00 AM, Blogger Greg M (A Friend Of Yours) said...

Oh no you don’t Anonymous, I’m not falling for that. Does it really matter who Mr. Big name is? Just fill in the blank, and the argument is the same. Neil and PJ reveling in each other is a cool thing to behold, and the story of Mr. Big only serves to illustrate how things should or could be, but aren’t always. Reread my comments, and you should be able to discern what my point is.

Even at the apex of PJ’s popularity, and I find no reason to call it into question, Neil was still a stand alone act both in terms of a still then current vitality, and in terms of historical relevance and importance. Any number of big names have elbowed their way to open for Neil. I personally have seen Steve Forbert, The Pretenders, and The Gin Blossoms, just to name a few, and that I know of Neil has never opened for another act in like manner. He was never, and to this day is not, a greatest hits show of warmed over former significance, representing a stab at a quick buck or an attempted return to a fleeting sense of former glory.

You’re right that PJ was the bigger act, but this just highlights my point. Neil wasn’t too big to acknowledge the fact, and conversely, PJ and Vedder aren’t too big to create a focus within their own music for an appreciation of Neil. Further, when the two of them meet up in the same place and the same time, you get a Mirror Ball or a European tour that create a whole greater than the sum of all the available parts. You get something that transcends self importance and exclusivity. You get two forces open to each other in a way that creates warm heartedness, something you wish was more prevalent.

It’s hard to be too critical of those who opt out of the mutual appreciation act that Neil and PJ have going. Mr. Big seems to be a nice guy, and like all of us has his own insecurities to overcome, for whatever reasons. I just think it’s a shame. Ego, talent and artistic sensitivity are all a delicate balance, and only those who have it know where the lines are drawn and where they have the potential to converge. Therefore, it doesn’t happen all the time. Lets enjoy it when it does, is all- and Neil and PJ are not the exception, and be grateful that as fans of Neil we have front row seats.

 
At 8/27/2009 05:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's out of focus but look at this one :

http://www.veoh.com/collection/Neil-Young-Music-Videos/watch/v16516521BCkn23nt

I hope we'll see the Horse again.
The Horse is the real one.

 
At 8/28/2009 11:29:00 PM, Anonymous dr dip said...

Ya know ya never stop learning do you! All these years listening to Neil sing "sugar mountain'.....

"with the barkers and coloured balloons"

And I could never understand the significance of Neil singin' about this Barker family at the fair.

Well I just looked up "barker" on google and lo and behold a "barker" is a carnival spruiker!..hence the coloured balloons.

How dumb am I..was I the only one?

 
At 8/30/2009 02:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

enough of the side discussion stuff ;)

Back to the original topic of Uncle Neil.

No pinch hitter needed this time in SF...

Pearl Jam Close Outside Lands With Tribute to Neil Young

http://www.spinner.com/2009/08/29/pearl-jam-close-outside-lands-with-tribute-to-neil-young/

 

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