Eddie Vedder Poached for Obama’s Farewell Address, Rehearses ‘Rise’ [Watch]

January 10th, 2017: As seen on Archive (PDF)


Eddie Vedder at Wrigley Field in Chicago (left), Obama in speech mode (right); Photo: Gavin Paul (left), N/A (right)

It’s long no secret that no one of considerable class and sanity in the music and art world wants to have anything to do with Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Meanwhile, Obama had a farewell party for the ages last Friday, of which a who’s who of celebs raged until 4 a.m. at the White House. Everyone from Tom Hanks to Chance the Rapper were in tow, recapping in lengths how legendary the send-off was.

Of those in attendance last Friday, Pearl Jam‘s omnipresent voice of rock reason, Eddie Vedder, must have had an aside with the POTUS or something about the state of national affairs, as PJ has confirmed Vedder’s presence at tonight’s (January 10) Farewell Address in Chicago, teasing a TBD collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Choir, from the stage of McCormick Place at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Vedder, always outspoken with his politics, has a long history with Chicago — having spent a period of his youth in Evanston, IL — the Northside’s beloved Cubs, and using the city’s stages as a platform for change addressing everything from boycotting BP Amoco for polluting in Lake Michigan, to more subtle jabs like pairing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” with Little Steven’s “I Am a Patriot,” as he did just this past August at Wrigley Field.

Without getting too elbow deep into Vedder’s political agenda — running around stages in Bush and Trump masks to PJ’s “Bushleaguer” should fill in the gaps for you — there’s a wellspring of material the dude could pull from tonight, but if this leaked rehearsal footage is any indication, we’ll be hearing a choir-backed rendition of Into the Wild gem, “Rise,” a song conceived for the soundtrack to a true story about a young American man who ditched all his worldly possessions to try and live off the land and redefine his meaning of ‘free’.

There are just two verses in the mandolin folk-siloloquoy “Rise,” and they can both be interpreted as subtle Vedder or Bush/Trump-mask in your face Vedder, depending on how you look at the next four years. Either way, if Vedder does unleash it, it’ll be a poetic bookend to an eight-year Obama run that started with a nod from The National‘s “Fake Empire:”

Such is the way of the world
You can never know
Just where to put all your faith
And how will it grow?
Gonna rise up
Burning black holes in dark memories
Gonna rise up
Turning mistakes into gold

Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
Suddenly swallowed by signs
Lo and behold
Gonna rise up
Find my direction magnetically
Gonna rise up
Throw down my ace in the hole

Update:  Vedder did indeed play “Rise,” as well as Neil Young‘s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” Patti Smith‘s “People Have the Power” and Labi Siffre‘s anti-apartheid anthem “(Something Inside) So Strong,” all caught on audience footage again. Watch Below:

“People Have the Power:”


“(Something Inside) So Strong:”


“Rockin’ in the Free World:”