Eddie Vedder is in a great mood. A few hours earlier, Barack Obama had been sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and Eddie was elated. Ebullient. Euphoric. Effervescently, er, chatty. Although we were going to talk about the upcoming reissue of Pearl Jam’s Ten album (due March 24), which we did, eventually, we both got a little sidetracked on a matter of Canadiana.
A big mystery has been how Eddie came to cover Hard Sun by Indio, a now-obscure Canadian artist who has been AWOL for the better part of 20 years. Although the song still occasionally gets played on Canadian radio, Big Harvest, the album from whence it came, was deleted years ago. It’s now one of those Holy Grail collectibles for a certain type of Canadian rock fan.
Then suddenly, it shows up in a Sean Penn movie being sung by the Pearl Jam frontman. So, how did that happen?
Cross: How did you come across the song Hard Sun for the Into the Wild soundtrack?
Vedder: The Canadian connection! When Sean (Penn, the director) first showed me the movie, it was in the film. To be honest, for me, it was the first time I’d ever heard it. But it felt like I had heard it. I couldn’t tell if it was from the late ’60s or mid-’70s. It had this kind of timeless thing about it.
Cross: Sean Penn found the song?
Vedder: Sean, at one point, knew Gordon (Peterson, the person behind Indio) or had been in contact with him or had friends who were friends of his. And Sean has really good, really eclectic musical tastes. He can quote Phil Ochs at the drop of a hat or recite a 12-minute Bob Dylan song. I think he knew this fellow, Gordon, and loved this song.
I wrote something for this part of the film (the soundtrack for Into the Wild is essentially an Eddie Vedder solo record) and he said “I think that’s good, but I think we need to go with Hard Sun.” And I thought, “Great. That’s less work for me to do. And then he said, “No, no. YOUR version of it.”
I tried to be really true to his delivery. It’s a great, great song. But I’ve not met (Peterson) or talked to him. I hope he liked it.