Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder Talks Climate Change, Chance the Rapper, and the Cubs in Impassioned Rock Hall Speech

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Vedder. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

It just wouldn’t be Eddie Vedder without at least one nod to social justice and the Cubs, and he wasted no time incorporating both in Pearl Jam’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech. While inducting the beloved rockers, David Letterman praised them for “recognizing injustice and standing up for it. Whether it was human rights or the environment. Whether it was poverty. They didn’t let it wash over them. They would stand up and react.” Friday night, Vedder reacted passionately to the times in a very Vedder-style way: with a Cubs analogy for saving the environment.

Climate change is real. That is not fake news. And we cannot be the generation the history of the world will look back on and wonder why they didn’t do everything humanly possible to solve the biggest crisis in our time. Anything can be obtainable. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. This is proof. And I use that analogy in regards to climate change because it can be done. But here’s the thing: We don’t have 108 years to wait.

Vedder also isn’t going to wait decades for Chance the Rapper to someday make it into the Hall; he personally put him on that pedestal with an unexpected shout-out to his fellow Illinois activist. “If somehow, some way, Chance the Rapper ever sees or hears this, I just want to tell him my daughter, Olivia, loves you,” he began. “And I also want to thank you for all the great work you’re doing in Chicago. That’s the kind of music activism that gives us all hope.” Then, before launching into a response to Letterman’s anecdote about annoying Vedder for months by mimicking the refrain to “Black,” he noted how much of a friend and mentor Letterman was to him before the two ever even met. “He doesn’t know, but when I used to work midnight shifts, I’d get there 11 to 7 and there was a small red TV by the security guard and Dave was my co-pilot,” he said. “Every weekday, every night I worked for four years. And he’d have so many great bands on his show — I saw so many bands on Letterman that became influences.”

But Pearl Jam’s induction wasn’t without controversy — former drummer Dave Abbruzzese lashed out at the ceremony for being excluded from the invite list. (Only two of Pearl Jam’s five drummers, Dave Krusen and Matt Cameron, were formally inducted.) Vedder also used his portion of the speech to make sure history remembered all members of the Pearl Jam drummers club:

You know how lucky I was to meet Jack Irons. I’m working as a crew guy at a Joe Strummer gig in a little pub in San Diego and, before my night shift, and I get to meet Jack, who was the original drummer in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already and he’s here tonight. Without meeting him, none of this happens. I’m not in this building. I’m probably not even on the planet. Jack, thanks so much. Thanks for your friendship. Somehow when you’re so fortunate, you know, we’ve had a few drummers. And they’re taking a seat on the drum throne cause they’re all kings. We’re so fortunate. Every one of them is great. But Matt Cameron’s really been the one that kept us alive for the past 15, 16, 17 years. At a time when we didn’t know if — we weren’t sure what was going to happen — he enabled us not just to survive, but to thrive. He became one of our brothers. He was going to end up receiving this accolade with either us or his other group. So he’ll be back. We had the great Dave Abbruzzese, who’s a great drummer. You’re a great fucking drummer! And Matt Chamberlain, Jack, and Dave, who we got to play with this week for the first time in 25 years.
Eddie Vedder Talks Climate Change in Rock Hall 2017 Speech