Eddie Vedder is a Vampire?

Essay by Mikey1High School, 12th gradeA+, July 1997

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Although at first he may seem to be just your average angst ridden lead man for a popular rock and roll band, Eddie Vedder, the vocalist and lyricist for Pearl Jam, may very well be a vampire. Although it is impossible to tell, everything points to his being an immortal. An in depth analysis of his lyrics shows that Pearl Jam's second album, "Versus", has been used by Vedder as sounding boards for the complex emotions and change of perspective that come with one's transition to vampirism. Other lyricists have used vampiric images before - for instance Sting, in Moon Over Bourbon Street, which was written in first person - but Vedder is unique in that his lyrics evolve over time as being indicative of his vampiric state. Either he has become a vampire, he believes himself to be a vampire, or he is leading a fictional double life, from which he draws inspiration for his lyrics.

What exactly is a vampire? Numerous myths, folk tales, and works of fiction exist on the matter of what makes up a vampire, but if they do exist, vampires have been incredibly careful to conceal their presence from most people (supposedly following a law known as the Masquerade), and very little is known about them definitively. However, some basic facts are common to most sources. These are: vampires drink blood, vampires live forever if not killed, and vampires undergo grievous bodily harm if exposed to sunlight; this normally kills them.

Many other things about vampires, such as their aversion to garlic, their superhuman abilities, and their prohibition on entering abodes unless invited, are mentioned in some sources and not others, and so it is unclear as to how much of this applies to real vampires, and how much is pure myth.

Eddie's vampiric tendencies became apparent in the lyrics to "Versus", Pearl Jam's second album. Pearl Jam's first album, "Ten", contains no real evidence of vampirism, and his lyric writing style is subtly different from that in "Versus". In "Ten", the lyrics are often in ballad form, generally relating tales of normal people. The songs Jeremy, Alive, Deep, and Black were all number one hits in the U.S. from "Ten". Eddie was not writing about himself in these songs, and was only assuming personas for the narrative, a standard device for composers of fiction of any kind. Thus, the lyrics were simply Eddie's view of the world around him, incorporating characters and situations which he could relate to.

Eddie's lyric writing style had change considerably in the second album, "Versus". Although he still wrote some songs similar to those on "Ten", expounding upon the specific lives of characters and the situation they encountered (i.e. Daughter), there is also a tendency for social commentary. The general trend in "Versus" is for the lyrics to offer a critical view of human society, often comparing it to vampiric society. It would seem that at this stage, Eddie had become aware of the existence of vampires, and had been offered the chance to become one of them. This is corroborated by the lyrics.

Eddie views Vampires as a different "species" to human, with a different society, customs, and moral code. Many of the lyrics on "Versus" are attempts by Eddie to compare the two "species", humans and vampires. A general disgust with the human race and it's customs is evident, and Eddie is considering vampirism as an alternative to all that he dislikes about human existence. The song Rats is a good example. At first it would seem to be a comparison of humans with rats, but even a brief glance at the lyrics would indicate that several qualities are mentioned common to both rats and humans: "they don't eat, don't sleep". The correct interpretation becomes clear when one considers Eddie's comparison of humanity with vampirism. In the song, the humans are represented by rats, and vampires by "they". It is essentially a list of all things bad about the human race, which Eddie hopes to rid of through the change to vampirism:

"they don't... lick the dirt off a larger one's feet

they don't push

don't crowd

congregate until they're much too loud

fu#? to procreate 'till they are dead

drink the blood of their so called best friend"

While the last line may appear to contradict the vampiric interpretation, in fact it strengthens it. Most known vampiric codes strictly prohibit the drinking of a fellow vampire's blood (known as "diablerie"), and tales exist of vampires being ostracized for it.

Several of the other songs on "Versus" have vampiric interpretations. Animal is indicative of Vedder's disgust with the human race; he'd "rather be with an animal" than with a human. W.M.A. is also a song of general disgust with human society, focusing on the race conflict in the United States of America. By becoming a vampire, Eddie hopes to distance himself from this sort of persecution. Essentially Eddie is trying to escape from his responsibility as a human by becoming a vampire. Indifference shows Eddie's final considerations of vampiric society, although he remains cynical. However, it is clear that he has made his decision ("soon light will be gone" and "but I won't change my mind"). The vampiric implications are the most clear in the second verse:

"I will hold the cradle

'til it burns up my arm

I'll keep taking punches

'til their arms grow tired

I will stare the sun down

until my eyes go blind

hey, I won't change direction

and I won't change my mind"

This verse deals with one's conversion to vampirism, the exact process of which isn't known for sure, but Eddie's version seems to confirm the most popular rumors, which hold that a vampire (the sire) must first drain the prospective vampire's blood, killing the victim, who then must drink of the sire's blood, or remain dead forever. Thus, the conversion from human to vampire involves dying, but remaining animate after death. This is what Eddie is describing in the second verse, although he has varied the cause of death for the sake of poetry, and in keeping with the Masquerade. The chorus, however, shows an increasing cynicism with vampirism: "how much difference does it make?".

Indifference was Eddie's last song before his conversion, a romantic attempt to crystallize his last thoughts as a human. The reality turned out to be much less sedate, as is evidence by Blood. Apparently the bloodletting wasn't as clean as imagined: 'my blood... drains and spills, soaks the pages, fills their sponges'. The song, musically primal and violent, is as much a homage to Eddie's last remaining drops of human blood, ('It's my blood' repeated over the thrashing guitars and drums), as it is to his violent conversion. The greatest indication of Eddie's vampirism, though, is on the lyric sheet of "Versus" before Blood, on which Eddie scribbles:

"This meeting is driving me crazy... changing me

I will never trust anyone again...

[unintelligible]... in a different light... Biting the bullet


You've blocked out the sun

You're killing my only flower

I've studied this question... now I study this answer"

Although the exact events of Eddie's conversion can only be guessed at, it was obviously a harrowing affair, and one which affected Eddie deeply. It seems that Eddie's perception had forever changed, which is evident in further songs about vampirism on "Versus."

Three other songs on Versus would seem to have been written after Eddie's conversion to a vampire: Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Leash, and Rearviewmirror.

Rearviewmirror is the companion song of Blood, dealing also with Eddie's conversion. However, while Blood is a description of the encounter at which Eddie was changed, Rearviewmirror relates Eddie's feelings after he has had a chance to adjust to his new condition. Throughout the song, a car trip is used as an analogy of Eddie's transformation, 'I took a drive today, time to emancipate'. Eddie remains cynical about the experience, "I'm not about to give thanks, or apologize,' and he describes his transformation once more in retrospect:

"I couldn't breath

holding me down

hand on my face

enmity gauged

knotted by fear

forced to endure

what I could not forgive

head at your feet

fool to your crown

fist on my plate

swallowed it down"

The last four lines reflecting Eddie's diminutive status when compared to his sire, especially during the humiliating conversion. Since drinking from his sire was necessary, the wrist was obviously offered ('fist'). After the conversion, vampires remain physically the same as before, hence 'it wasn't my surface most defiled'. Eddie obviously fled his sire after the meeting:

"I gather speed

from you fu#?ing with me

once and for all

I'm far away

hardly believe

finally the shades are raised"

The last two lines reflect the new perspective that Eddie has gained from his newfound state.

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town is a relatively sedate song, and relates Eddie's thoughts on seeing an old friend, someone whom he had only known before his conversion. The vampiric link is tenuous, and relies on the fact that physically Vampires remain exactly as they were when first converted: 'lifetimes are catching up with me, all these changes taking place,' implies that Eddie has already noticed how others around him have changed, while he hasn't: 'I changed by not changing at all.' The irony is that he has changed more than anybody else.

Leash is also a look back at Eddie's former life, comparing humanity and vampirism from the other side of the fence. 'Troubled souls untie, we've got ourselves tonight,' and, 'we got the means to make amends,' would seem to indicate that Eddie is ready to make a life without life, entering a vampire society and leaving humanity behind. However, he has trouble adjusting and hence, 'I am lost.' However, he is confident of eventually settling down: 'will myself to find a home... we will find a way, we will find a place.' At the end of the song, Eddie sings, 'the lights, the lights' displaying his newfound sensitivity to sunlight, and then sings, 'I used' with the same melody as he sang, 'I proved to be a man,' leading to the obvious statement, 'I used to be a man.'

"Versus" represents the early stages of Eddie's vampirism, from his initial consideration of the idea, to his conversion and subsequent disillusionment, and his beginning to come to terms with what has happened to him. However, several other songs not related to vampirism are also featured on the album, either written before Eddie begun brooding over the matter, or as a form of artistic relief from his transformation physically, mentally, and emotionally. Also, the order of the songs on the album isn't chronological, something which may have something to do with the Masquerade, but probably has more to do with the arrangement of songs int