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Eddie Vedder Sued Over "Hard Sun" Lyric Changes

December 30, 2009 12:00 AM ET

We've seen our share of strange lawsuits in 2009, from Joe Satriani versus Coldplay versus Cat Stevens over "Viva la Vida," Starbucks' battle with Carly Simon — even Eddie Van Halen taking Nike to court over a color scheme — but a new suit involving Eddie Vedder seems unprecedented. The Pearl Jam frontman covered the band Indio's "Hard Sun" for the Into the Wild soundtrack, and now songwriter Gordon Peterson alleges that because Vedder altered some of the lyrics, he "eroded" the integrity of the composition, the New York Post reports.

Vedder's take on "Hard Sun," and the rest of the Into the Wild soundtrack, was pretty universally acclaimed, resulting in a music video for the track and a Golden Globe and Grammy nomination for the single "Guaranteed" (he won the Globe). Vedder's score was also nominated for a Golden Globe. The success of Vedder's version of the song is arguably quite responsible for Indio's 1989 album Big Harvest being reissued.

Universal Music was also named in the lawsuit, for failing to get Peterson's permission before licensing the song. Peterson seeks all profits from the song after these "acts of infringement." Into the Wild director Sean Penn is credited with introducing "Hard Sun" to Vedder, who recruited Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker to supply vocals on the track.

A comparison of the two versions reveals very little difference between the two tracks. The opening verse and chorus are intact lyrically, but where Peterson wrote "When she comes to greet me / she is mercy at my feet / When I stay to pillage her / She just throws it back at me," Vedder sings, "When she comes to greet me / she is mercy at my feet / I see her inner charm / she just throws it back at me." Similar differences take place in the later verses, but for the most part Vedder sticks to the structure of the original.

Related Stories:
Eddie Van Halen Sues Nike Over Guitar's Signature Color Scheme
Cat Stevens Considers Lawsuit Over Coldplay's "Viva La Vida"
Carly Simon Sues Starbucks Over Failure of "This Kind of Love" LP

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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