When I’d heard that Eddie Vedder was on a solo tour; Eddie & His Ukulele; I was intrigued. When I saw that Eddie Vedder’s new song “Longing to Belong” was the Starbucks/iTunes “Pick of the Week,” this week (from now; May 31 until August 26th! That’s one long week!) I had to download the tune and see what’s up.
“Longing to Belong” is a very lovely song. The tune begins with Vedder’s vibrato and his ukulele. There is a string section; big deep, bellowing, baritone strings and they carry the song through. The ukulele is a small guitar instrument which does not have a particularly strong sound. It’s an instrument that people for some reason associate with island festivities like those which go on in Hawaii at a luau.
Still with Vedder’s past history as a loud alternative rocker, “Longing to Belong” is something of a sonic turn for him. Not that Vedder’s unable pull it off; quite the contrary as his voice wavers from yearning to commanding back to the vibrato.
One of the things I noticed right away about the song though are its lyrics. I’m sorry but Eddie Vedder is a rock star. Something of an aged rock star (that dates me). I mean he’s no Steven Tyler or Gene Simmons, but he’s getting up there. Vedder’s band he fronts, Pearl Jam came out around 1990. That was 21 years ago. So if he was in his early to mid twenties when Pearl Jam first broke big, 21 years ago — that makes him middle aged.
So the subtext of the song’s lyrics sort of rubbed me raw. While we have all had heartbreak in our lives, didn’t he get over all that by the time “Ten” went platinum? How about the 9th time it went platinum? It seems that if Eddie Vedder couldn’t already find whatever his hear was seeking out, he could have easily have substituted it.
Not that I’ll ever know the pains of a alternative rock musician who has sold millions of records and made millions of dollars and is known around the world. I just wish Vedder would use the tools he’s been given to further the medium; not get stuck in the mire of sameness.
One of the lines from “Longing to Belong” goes:
“I’m falling harder than I ever did before — “
The subject is love and the pain is implicit. Of course there is no remedy for the loss of true love but there certainly are activities that any pro-active person could take on in the meanwhile. Just ask Charlie Sheen.
While “Longing to Belong” is still a lovely song the verdict remains out on the whole Eddie Vedder and his ukulele thing and the new album, “Ukulele Songs.”