“YEEAAARRREEEAAAHHHH!” Eddie Vedder holds the final note while strumming the final chord of the Pearl Jam classic, “Jeremy,” that seems to last eons. I click “X” on my internet’s browser, having cringed for the last 4 minutes listening to Eddie “sing” as part of my research for this article. His ability to carry a tune makes me envious of the hearing-impaired. There I said it. I’ve never been an Eddie Vedder fan. His shaky singing voice sounds like a man fighting, with futility, equal parts tuberculosis and hypothermia; raspy and shaky. One thing I will give you, reader, it is an original. Eddie, and his voice, is as distinguishable as a celebrity at Coachella. But where did it come from? Not the voice. The man.
My search led me to where most inquiries lead me: Wikipedia. His origin reads, “Evanston, Illinois.” And I read: Bullshit. No two people could create something like that. I kept digging, which lead me to old newspaper clippings. That’s where the tale begins:
Seattle, Washington, 1982. A family of 5, the Boones, closed the doors on a small townhome for the last time as the father, Kyle, has taken a job in Tacoma, Washington. He had to; the family was getting bigger and space was getting smaller.
Fast forward 6 months. An old pipe that had leaked in the dingy basement of the home that saw a young couple get married, have 3 children and 2 dogs, one of which was rested under the old Douglas Fir in the backyard 6 years ago, had burst, causing the basement to flood. In the hustle and bustle of the family moving in order to get settled in to a new chapter in their life, a minute detail seemed to slip through the cracks. The water led to a one-inch pool of standing water. An absent-minded realtor, a neighbor’s anonymous tip, and a crumbling foundation, led to the city proclaiming the property “condemned.” Bull-dozers were scheduled to demolish this eyesore, and in a few short weeks, an abode that was once filled with love, would be no more.
A last-minute sweep through the home led to a startling discovery. An old shaman, easily in his 70s or 80s, had apparently sought shelter from the bitter cold here. A smart move at the time as nobody in their right mind dare step foot in a structure with such unpredictability, all but solidifying a lengthy stay on the premises for the elder. Authorities were called to remove the man whom only spoke a few words of English. The man became unruly while being escorted out. During the struggle the man screamed a few unintelligible words into the empty quarters. The words echoed against the barren walls. Words that were seemingly harmless as the officers just chalked this up to a debilitating mental disorder. However, to the trained ear, what was uttered would forever change the landscape of rock and roll as we know it.
Days later the property was swept once more to remove any miscellaneous items that may have been left by the uncontrollable old man or by the Boones. Under the stairs, was a box marked “Kyle-1979!” filled with old flannels that were later purchased by a suburban teen at the local Goodwill days later.
One day, the boy, David, was having his typical late 80s-early 90s house parties, and his buddy, Curtis, brought out the acoustic guitar. A chorus of boos erupted from this gesture, an appropriate response, and Curtis retreated to David’s room to get high. He propped his guitar on the, now, freshly laundered pile of flannels David forgot to stow away before the party. As the night progressed, Curtis began to fill the room with marijuana smoke; smoke that delicately tickled the acoustic guitar now resting on the “cursed’ pile of flannels. This caused an indescribable reaction that can only be likened to that of the timeless Frosty the Snowman. The flannels began to howl. An arm. Two arms. Torso. Within minutes, a long-haired “man” calling himself, “Eddie,” (conspiracy theorists believe the “man” was referring to himself as “E.T.” and Curtis was too awe-struck to corroborate the claims), arose from the pile that was now ash. Curtis passed out, and Eddie, guitar in hand, left the party unnoticed, due to the intoxicated nature of all the guests, into the brisk Seattle night. 30 years and an album called “Ukulele Songs” later, loyal fans flock to wherever the Vedder is. His banshee howl can always be heard echoing through whatever music festival he decides to attend that year.