Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder created a bit of a stir in July when he went into an anti-war rant during a performance in London. Vedder has a history of being opposed to war, but his comments were seen in some quarters as taking sides with the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel.
On July 16, Vedder wrote a letter that was posted on Pearl Jam’s website in which he explains his anti-war stance and tries to clarify his comments. He begins and ends that letter with quotes from the John Lennon song, “Imagine.” Shortly after that, Vedder performed a solo cover of “Imagine” on stage in Portugal. According to Spin, before beginning the song Vedder tells the crowd, “It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it. If you’d like join me or use your voices or hold a light there might be some people out there that need to know they are not alone.”
Vedder has now released his “Imagine” cover on iTunes, with all proceeds being donated to Heartbeat: Amplifying Youth Voices, a group that brings young Israeli and Palestinian musicians together and encourages them to use their voices to bring change to their world. Heartbeat’s Facebook page describes the group as follows:
As a positive alternative to the normalization of segregation, violence, and racism, Heartbeat creates spaces and opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli youth musicians to build critical awareness, respect, and trust while harnessing creative nonviolent tools for self-expression and social change. Engaging in a sustained music, dialogue, and empowerment process, Heartbeat youth musicians become agents of change; harnessing the tools of creativity to imagine possibilities, ask questions, and publicly address systemic problems such as violence, oppression, and inequality — partnering to create a safe, equitable future for all.
Here is Vedder’s first performance of his “Imagine” cover, from July 18. The song is available on iTunes for 99 cents.