Eddie Vedder Discusses 'Dark Lyrics' and Mental Health with Lily Cornell

'I remember our first record, there’s some sad s*** on there'

August 24, 2020
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Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder joined Lily Cornell Silver, the daughter of late singer Chris Cornell, on her weekly IGTV series Mind Wide Open to discuss mental health as it is affected by societal and political factors as well as Eddie's own experiences, and the experiences of close friends and acquaintances.

Lily was excited to have Eddie, who she describes as a "guiding light" in her life, on the program. “His and his family’s support around my series means so much to me," she said in a press release announcing the episode. "He has always been like an uncle to me and is one of the pillars of support in my life. I know how impactful his voice is to people around the world and I deeply appreciate everything he stands for, so I am really excited for others to watch and hear his insights.”

Thoughts of the tragic event that unfolded at 1999's Roskilde Festival in Denmark where nine concertgoers lost their lives against the barricade as Pearl Jam were on the stage still weighs heavily on his mind, even after coming to terms with some of the family members who lost their loved ones that fateful day. "It’s crazy to talk to you about it, because right before we went onstage... we got the news that our great friends Chris and Susan had just had a child,” Vedder remembers . “And her name was Lily, and we kinda cried some tears of joy… This was I think less than 15 minutes before we were gonna go on. We went out with you on our minds, and we were feeling empowered and emotional… and 40 minutes into the show, these terrible events happened.”

Vedder credits The Who's Pete Townshend for getting him back on his feet after feeling as though he could no longer handle the guilt. Townshend, who had been through a similar situation in 1979 told him, "'no, you can handle this.' He empowered me to get my s*** together,” Vedder admits.

Of the major bands to come out of the Grunge scene of the '90s, (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots) Vedder is the only original singer still with us; Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Scott Weiland all suffered tragic deaths over the years.

Speaking about his fallen friends, Eddie explained, "those are some dark lyrics, Kurt’s lyrics, those were some dark lyrics, Layne’s lyrics, those were some dark lyrics… and these weren’t people going, ‘I’m gonna pretend to write a dark song.’ It was real for everybody.” Adding, “and then it became kind of like, make fun of the dour grunge groups, and I think people took it personally, because they were like, ‘Yeah, we ain’t f****** around.'”

Speaking of music and art as a release, he likens those words to some of today's breed of distressful lyricists, like Billie Eilish. She “has a lot of people listening to her… I remember our first record, there’s some sad s*** on there, and I’m thinking, ‘Well, this is kind of depressing that tens of millions of people are relating to this.’ But again, it was probably a healthy thing for everybody.”

Relatable lyrics, relatable situations -- simply sharing a story with someone, whether written or in person, can make all the difference when dealing with tough times. This is something that Eddie and Lily have come full circle on.

Watch the full episode above at the duo get into politics, racism and much more.

RADIO.COM’s I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

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