Eddie Vedder is still pissed about the war in Iraq waged by George W. Bush's administration. The Pearl Jam lead singer, at a live event at Housing Works in New York City, made that abundantly clear.
Vedder, speaking alongside the renowned talk show host Phil Donahue and writer and veteran Mark Wilkerson as a surprise guest to honor the release of Wilkerson's book Tomas Young's War, was soft spoken for a man known for his loud voice. This was likely due to the topic, Vedder's late friend Tomas Young, the Iraq War vet who lived the last years of his life paralyzed from the chest down. The room was packed with about 100 attendees, many of whom didn't know Vedder would be on the bill. Everyone sat in silence as the three men spoke of the impact of war on individuals, especially soldiers.
We’re here live at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe with Emmy Award-winning journalist Phil Donahue, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, and U.S. Army veteran Mark Wilkerson to talk about their new book "Tomas Young’s War," a true story about a paralyzed Iraq War vet who spent his last ten years speaking against America’s wars. Comment below with any questions for this live discussion and look for the book in stores now.
Posted by Men's Journal Video on Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Donahue, the 80-year-old, forever gray-haired Emmy Award winner, started things off talking about how he and Vedder met at a fantasy baseball camp in Arizona. After a long day of playing catcher, Donahue approached Vedder and asked if he'd like to contribute a song to the score for Donahue's film on Young, Body of War.
"I say, 'Eddie, I'm doing an anti-Iraq War documentary.' He says, 'Do you want a song?' Just like that, Vedder was on board.'" Vedder talked to Young on the phone, and a friendship built between the two that lasted until the end of Young's life in 2014.
Vedder, coming off of two sold-out Madison Square Garden shows with his band a few nights earlier, spoke slowly, choosing his words over a subject that still haunts and upsets him to this day.
Vedder said Young brought "a tremendous amount of light into my life," speaking of marathon talks on the phone he and Young would have on everything from politics to music. As Vedder goes on, he is unable to hide the sadness he still feels about Young's passing, and it gets difficult for him to keep his composure.
When Vedder talks about the Bush administration, he loses his cool entirely: "I'm fucking angry," he says. "When Dick Cheney goes on and has the nerve, the wherewithal, and the gall to come out and criticize Obama's foreign policy when he's trying to be diplomatic… it upsets me to no end…. He should apologize to Tomas."
As Vedder spoke of his hatred of the war, those who instigated it, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for it, he fought back tears and harnessed an intensity reserved for his best concerts. "If people don't pay attention to this," he said, "it will happen over and over again."