Over the past week, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder has made a number of comments speaking out against war and has dismissed speculation that they were directed at Israel. Most recently, at his July 18th solo show in Meco, Portugal, the singer addressed his feelings about war at length and, for the first time in his career, performed John Lennon’s “Imagine,” accompanied only by acoustic guitar, to further illustrate his opinion. “I think it is the most powerful song ever written, which is why I have never played it,” Vedder said in his introduction, according to Consequence of Sound. “It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it.”
Elsewhere in his introduction to the song, Vedder ruminated on how taking an stance against war says a lot about a person’s character, but it doesn’t suggest taking sides. “If you’re anti-war it doesn’t mean you are ‘pro’ one side or the other in a conflict,” he said. “However, it does make you ‘pro’ many things…Pro-peace, pro-human, pro-evolution, [it] makes you pro-communication, pro-diplomacy, pro-love, pro-understanding, pro-forgiveness.”
Vedder also elucidated that those who are anti-war are also “pro-soldier,” as he did not want to see soldiers sacrifice themselves “for no good reason.” Pearl Jam, he said, had many friends who served in the Armed Forces.
“Sometimes if you speak out, people are going to misunderstand and they take things a certain way or another,” he told the audience. “If you don’t speak out, you don’t know. If someone doesn’t like it, that probably means it has some kind of meaning. It’s not just bullshit. It’s not just nothing.” He also encouraged the concertgoers to sing “Imagine” with him.
Vedder previously quoted “Imagine” on Pearl Jam’s website in an open letter to fans, regarding accusations by Israeli media that his previous anti-war statements were anti-Israel. “The majority of humans on this planet are more consumed by the pursuit of love, health, family, food and shelter than any kind of war,” he wrote. “War hurts. It hurts no matter which sides the bombs are falling on.”