In the realm of musical legends, Neil Young stands as a beacon of inspiration and artistic brilliance. Countless artists have been profoundly impacted by his iconic work, and for Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, the influence was transformational. Reflecting on their collaboration on Young’s 1995 album “Mirrorball,” Vedder shares, “To be honest, I hadn’t really listened to Neil Young until he asked us to play with him on ‘Mirrorball’: that had a huge impact upon us and it was such a compliment. And when I went back and listened to all his albums, they just blew me away. Even his most obscure records have songs that are so beautiful and so moving that you can’t believe they weren’t huge hits.”
Young’s 1994 album “Sleeps With Angels” holds a special place in Vedder’s musical appreciation. He expresses, “I’ve been listening to ‘Sleeps With Angels’ a lot, and that’s such a beautiful record – Western Hero is gorgeous, Trans Am is incredible and Change Your Mind is one of the most fantastic songs ever written, it’s just ridiculous in the way it starts to climb each time for his solos. And this is one of the records that people don’t even talk about much! Every era of his career is great, and he’s still making cool, interesting records.”
As relayed by Louder Sound – Playing alongside Neil Young proved to be an invaluable learning experience for Vedder and his bandmates. Vedder acknowledges, “We learned so much from playing with him. I’ve seen him play 30 or 40 times now, and every time is an education. He’s the ultimate songwriter, singer, lead guitarist, and soundscaper, he’s in that Dylan zone.” The way Young effortlessly fuses distortion, feedback, blues, folk, rock, and soul is truly inspirational, leaving a lasting impact on those fortunate enough to witness his artistry live.
Vedder further emphasizes Young’s genius in simplicity, stating, “Plus the simplicity of his chord changes is amazing.” Young’s ability to craft poignant music with just a few chords showcases a liberating perspective on songwriting. Vedder recalls, “I’d have conversations with him where I’d say ‘God Neil, I’m so excited, I love that new song where you’re just playing three chords,’ and he’d go ‘Yeah, you know lately I’ve been really into just two chords…’ and it’s like ‘Wow! God!'”
Despite Neil Young’s extensive career, Vedder highlights Young’s enduring passion for music, stating, “Neil’s as old as hell, but he’s like a kid in terms of how excited he is about music. He’s the ultimate, I don’t think anyone can touch him. And he’s a gentleman, definitely one of the good guys.” Neil Young remains a timeless maestro, leaving an indelible mark on the music world and inspiring generations of artists to come.