I have been searching for Eddie Vedder for over a decade and a half. From the grunge clubs in Seattle all the way to the epic recent concerts in Italy. I have made my way low on funds, at times without home or hope, in search of Eddie Vedder. My wife thinks that I am obsessed with the man but this is no more true than saying that a brother is obsessed with his younger brother. You see, in an indirect way- Eddie and I are “brothers.” He is six years older than I and much more acclimated to the world than I- but none the less we are brothers. How could I think such a ridiculous thing you may be thinking? You are Jewish, six foot five, lack any singing ability and you are allergic to booze- you say. There is no way you could be the brother of Eddie Vedder!! This is true on the physiological level, but brotherhood is much deeper than body or biology- brotherhood is an energy, it is a shared soul. We share the same soul.
When I first met Eddie Vedder I was beginning to experience panic attacks. I was a member of Generation X not knowing what my life was for or who I was. I was searching for a soul. Confusion embalmed me like a dark fog and the result of this imbalance was a panic so ferocious that all I could do was measure my life by each inhalation. I lived in fear that the next exhalation would be my last.
I attended a small private college and fell into a love affair with wine, women and marijuana. It was under the influence of all three of these vices that I first heard the music of Nirvana. It was my birthday, May…1992. The sounds spoke to me of a new beginning, the possibility for an identity. And then before I knew what was happening the grunge movement was underway and I was wearing boxer underwear, flannels, ripped jeans, black Doc Martins and my hair was nearly down to my shoulders. I was sitting front row at a Pearl Jam concert watching this new beacon of hope for my exiled generation sing like a Shaman and run around like he was trying to bring purpose back into a blank society. It was then that I had my first meeting with Eddie Vedder. He fell off the stage and landed on my head.
After college I moved to Seattle, bought a dog, drank too much and worked in a bookstore. I lived alone in a small cottage and read books that I had stolen from the store (I returned most them when finished). I smoked weed with Chris Cornell (who was a frequent costumer) in a park and everywhere I went I hoped to run into Eddie Vedder. I attempted to find out where he was living from Chris…but at the time I was told that he rarely came out of his home and had constant security guards meandering around his grounds. Besides, Chris would never tell a person like me where this legend in the making rested his head. I was a stranger to stoned to zip up my pants who could barley hold down an honest job at a book shop.
Skip ahead to the year 2007. I am a sober (don’t even eat sugar), vegetarian, married, hypochondriac, childless unemployed blogger who rarely leaves his house. I am introverted and frequently I will watch Eddie Vedder interviews and Pearl Jam live footage on You Tube. In my chest there lingers not only a nostalgia for the grunge era (which seemed to pass away quicker than a heart beat) but a chronic feeling of failure. Just yesterday I was young and now I am closing in on forty with chronic anxiety and little to show for my years on this earth. This is my sixth day without leaving the house- but I find consolation in knowing Eddie Vedder is living the life I only wish I could.
It’s not the fame or the notoriety that I envy but rather the artistic integrity of a man who is able to live out who he truly is. Most of us have to cut our hair and work at day jobs that have nothing to do with our soul, in order to put food on the table. We have to forget about the idealisms of our youth and retire who we really are into our back pockets. This is punishment for not finding your “niche.”
Now I am nearing middle age, and for the sake of family I have put aside my aspiration to write novels and picked the second choice…I will be a high school Teacher. I will not live the life I had imagined for myself a decade ago. But my brother is living it for me, and I live it vicariously through him. His protests are mine, his success is my pride. At 42 years of age he can still sing like a maestro while being a smoker and an avid wine drinker. Eddie is able to intoxicate stadium after stadium of people with his humble soul. This is one of the many differences between us.
I am unable to find teaching job because I refuse to cut my hair which is the bond that holds my soul together. Along with my Pearl Jam t-shirts and buttons…I am often referred to by others as “Eddie Vedder like.” I pretend to be surprised, but the truth is this is the exact effect that I am going for. At times I find myself pretending to be Eddie Vedder (I did this when I was a younger man as well. I would wear the “Beat It” jacket with shoulder pads, white glove, white socks and penny loafers- pretending to be Micheal Jackson. I was a white man living in a hick community and brought on many beatings from red necks because of my desire to be like Mike). I lost my last job as a high school Teacher for making my students watch one live Pearl Jam concert after the next. I tried to explain to the administration that I was teaching my students what it means to search for Eddie Vedder- to remain true to that one thing in us that is the real reflection of our soul!! They could not understand.
It will never happen my wife says. “I could write novels, I could act in a film…there has got to be something that I can do so that I do not have to sell my soul!!” “Eddie Vedder has been doing what he does for a long time and he is an icon,” my wife says “you are almost 40 and you just have not been on that path my love. You can not be Eddie Vedder!!” Sometimes I get so depressed I spend the entire day in bed. There is Eddie Vedder, 42 and still rocking out on stage. He drinks wine, smokes cigarettes, is in top physical condition and is an icon. He is a voice of the anti-war movement and good friends with Sean Penn (someone I have always wanted to speak with). I on the other hand get sick if I drink or smoke a cigarette, can not walk up a flight of stairs without chest pain and have very little money in my bank account. The tires on my car all need to be replaced, but I can not afford to do so. I live in an old home which is freezing cold in the winter, smells like toxic glue and wobbles when ever anyone walks around.
I am not feeling sorry for myself but I envy the man who I call my brother. I told him this not long ago. It was after a Pearl Jam concert in San Fransisco. I waited with a group of a dozen die hard fans until about three in the morning for Eddie to exit from the back stage exit. It was cold and desolate in the San Fransisco early morning. The only people out on the streets pushed shopping carts filled with their meager possessions. I was about to turn away when suddenly I heard the crowd erupt into loud salutations shouting “Eddie!!” “Eddie!!!” He kindly got everyone to calm down by saying “please calm down, I will get to each and every one of you. we just need to be quiet.” I could feel my tired heart racing in my chest as I awaited Eddie’s glance. He signed set lists and talked with one lady about how great she thought he was aging. He seemed very comfortable, a little drunk, almost Buddha like in his demeanor. Then I caught his stare and stuck out my hand. He shook my hand and it was then that I said “You are doing a great job, I envy you your success.” He looked at me square in the eyes as if he was trying to remember if we met before. He then said “thank you my brother, but do not envy me, I’m just doing the best I can…like you.” And then he was gone. He got into the front seat of a black van which I imagine took my brother to his hotel room.
Now I sit here writing. It is raining outside and I spent the entire day reading in bed. I watched a few Eddie Vedder interviews tonight. I feel like my life is on hold while he is living life to its fullest. I have been wondering. Am I doing the best I can? And I have to say that my answer to this is no. No I am not. I have always been rather lazy and short of finding that one thing I love to do and then doing it all the time. No, I am not doing the best I can…and this is exactly why I am searching for Eddie Vedder. He is a man who is doing the best he can. I watch him and I am in awe. “So this is what it looks like when one finds their soul purpose,” I say to myself. Slowly my awe turns to inspiration…and I am reminded of something that I seemed to have almost given up on. My search for Eddie Vedder.