Watch Eddie Vedder’s First-Time Cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’
Vedder introduced the song by saying, “I think it is the most powerful song ever written, which is why I have never played it. It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it. If you’d like join me or use your voices or hold a light there might be some people out there that need to know they are not alone."
The Pearl Jam frontman drew criticism last week for anti-war comments made during a show in England. Though Vedder initially made no specific reference to the on-going Gaza conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, many assumed that was what elicited his fiery response -- and accusations of anti-Israeli bias followed.
Vedder was moved to pen an open letter explaining his position for Pearl Jam's website, and then performed 'Imagine' with some additional clarifying comments on Friday night in Portugal.
"If you're anti-war, it doesn’t mean you are pro one side or the other in a conflict," Vedder said. "However, it does make you pro many things. ... Pro-peace, pro-human, pro-evolution. Makes you pro-communication, pro-diplomacy, pro-love, pro-understanding, pro-forgiveness. You know, some people don’t understand how you can be pro-soldier. If you are anti-war, you're pro-soldier, because you don’t want the soldier to be put in harm's way, to sacrifice himself or herself for some reason that’s not -- for no good reason."
Vedder's letter also referenced the Phil Spector-produced Lennon song, a No. 3 hit that has since become a worldwide anthem for peace.
Meanwhile, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has posted a message in support of Vedder. "Thank you, Eddie, for speaking up for peace in our world," he wrote. "That situation has been messed up for so long, it is no wonder that even mentioning it is toxic. ... It is the knuckleheads on both sides that should be criticized -- not the singer from a rock band."