Last week at during a three-hour Pearl Jam show in London, Eddie Vedder unleashed an anti-war tirade on stage, leading into a cover of Edwin Starr’s 1970 song “War.” He reportedly said: “I swear to fucking God, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill! They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the fuck out, and mind their own fucking business.”
Vedder’s speech did not directly reference the ongoing Israeli-Palestine conflict, but it quickly became aligned with that battle. The Jerusalem Post called it an “anti-Israel diatribe,” according to the NME, but it also received support.
Now Vedder has released a statement via pearljam.com titled Imagine That — I’m Still Anti-War. It quotes John Lennon’s “Imagine” and maintains his anti-war stance. “When attempting to make a plea for more peace in the world at a rock concert,” Vedder wrote, “we are reflecting the feelings of all those we have come in contact with so we may all have a better understanding of each other.”
Read the full statement below:
Imagine That — I’m Still Anti-War.
July 16 2014
Most of us have heard John Lennon sing
“You may say I’m a dreamer,… but I’m not the only one.”
And some of us, after another morning dose of news coverage full of death and destruction, feel the need to reach out to others to see if we are not alone in our outrage. With about a dozen assorted ongoing conflicts in the news everyday, and with the stories becoming more horrific, the level of sadness becomes unbearable. And what becomes of our planet when that sadness becomes apathy? Because we feel helpless. And we turn our heads and turn the page.
Currently, I’m full of hope. That hope springs from the multitudes of people that our band has been fortunate enough to play for night after night here in Europe. To see flags of so many different nations, and to have these huge crowds gathered peacefully and joyfully is the exact inspiration behind the words I felt the need to emphatically relay. When attempting to make a plea for more peace in the world at a rock concert, we are reflecting the feelings of all those we have come in contact with so we may all have a better understanding of each other.
That’s not something I’m going to stop anytime soon. Call me naïve. I’d rather be naïve, heartfelt and hopeful than resigned to say nothing for fear of misinterpretation and retribution.
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. War hurts. It hurts no matter which sides the bombs are falling on. With all the global achievements in modern technology, enhanced communication and information devices, cracking the human genome, land rovers on Mars etc., do we really have to resign ourselves to the devastating reality that conflict will be resolved with bombs, murder and acts of barbarism?
We are such a remarkable species. Capable of creating beauty. Capable of awe-inspiring advancements. We must be capable of resolving conflicts without bloodshed.
I don’t know how to reconcile the peaceful rainbow of flags we see each night at our concerts with the daily news of a dozen global conflicts and their horrific consequences. I don’t know how to process the feeling of guilt and complicity when I hear about the deaths of a civilian family from a U.S. drone strike. But I know that we can’t let the sadness turn into apathy. And I do know we are better off when we reach out to each other.