Flashback: Eddie Vedder Sings 'Better Man' With Bruce Springsteen - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Eddie Vedder Sings ‘Better Man’ With Bruce Springsteen

At a New Jersey stop on the 2004 Vote For Change tour, the Pearl Jam frontman briefly joined up with the E Street Band

The 2004 Vote For Change tour was originally going to focus solely on the five crucial swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Florida before wrapping up in Washington, D.C. But in the final weeks of the election, it began looking like a new state might be in play. “I glanced over the front page of the morning paper and it says: ‘Election race tightens up in New Jersey,'” Bruce Springsteen said. “The first thought that came to my mind of course was, ‘Great God almighty!’ The second thought was, “What the bejesus!’ The third thought was, ‘Get me to the Meadlowlands now!'”

A bonus concert was quickly thrown together at the Continental Airlines Arena on October 13th. The prior Springsteen-headlined concerts of the Vote For Change tour featured Bright Eyes and R.E.M. as the opening act, but at this show, Jackson Browne and Patti Scialfa took on the task. Springsteen played a couple of songs with with his wife and joined Browne for “Running on Empty,” but the biggest cheers of the night came early on in the main set when Eddie Vedder walked onstage to join the E Street Band for “No Surrender,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and “Better Man.” The latter was the first time the E Street Band had ever attempted a Pearl Jam tune, but they nailed it, complete with a Clarence Clemons sax solo. (Check out video of the moment above.)

Throughout the show, Springsteen urged the crowd to vote for John Kerry. “If you’re swinging, if you’re swanging, if you’re sweeping, if you’re swooping, if you’re switching, if you just can’t decide, if you wanna be even temporarily released from the burdens of the Republicanism, you can be saved right now,” he said. “Do I have a volunteer? Ladies and gentlemen, I need your help, I need a minute to close our eyes and say Haliburton three times real fast.”

The good news was that the concert probably wasn’t even necessary, since John Kerry won New Jersey by a very comfortable six percentage points. The bad news, at least from Springsteen’s perspective, was that Kerry lost the election by a single state. If just 118,602 more people had voted for Kerry in Ohio, he would have won the entire election. Oh well. At least the good people of Ohio got some good rock music before dealing with four more years of Bush.


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