Eddie Vedder: Ukelele Songs

Pearl Jam front dude gets all deep with Formby’s banjo.

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Some go for a collection of their acoustic numbers with the London Philharmonic. Eddie Vedder, on the other hand, has opted to strip it all back to just himself and his ukelele for this solo trip.

The instrument’s major contribution to recorded music came in the hands of George Formby, who sang about cleaning windows. Ed has weightier matters in mind for his four-string.

Nonetheless, when he begins to strum it rapidly, as he does at the end of the otherwise pretty Broken Heart, it’s the ghost of Formby that haunts him – and in comical style. However good on the uke you get – and Ed is pretty good – it’s not a versatile sound or a sombre one, and intoning lyrics of deep gravitas over the top adds to the incongruity of the endeavour.

With lines like: ‘I believe in nothing but the pain’ to the fore, at times it would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

Jon Hotten

Jon Hotten is an English author and journalist. He is best known for the books Muscle: A Writer's Trip Through a Sport with No Boundaries and The Years of the Locust. In June 2015 he published a novel, My Life And The Beautiful Music (Cape), based on his time in LA in the late 80s reporting on the heavy metal scene. He was a contributor to Kerrang! magazine from 1987–92 and currently contributes to Classic Rock. Hotten is the author of the popular cricket blog, The Old Batsman, and since February 2013 is a frequent contributor to The Cordon cricket blog at Cricinfo. His most recent book, Bat, Ball & Field, was published in 2022.