Eddie Vedder, the American singer and front-man of rock band Pearl Jam, has described the ukulele as "an activist instrument". Eddie Vedder releases his second solo album 'Ukulele Songs' today (31st May 2011), and the 46-year-old has been discussing his love for the small-stringed instrument.
Speaking to Npr Music, Vedder spoke of how the ukulele can be a community-builder, recalling one particular evening around the campfire, saying, "One of the locals was a fisherman I'd met before, and we got into a serious discussion about environmental issues". The singer noted how the man then picked up his ukulele, saying, "His hands were so big it was hard to imagine he could get chords out of it. And he played the most beautiful rendition of 'I Can't Help Falling in Love With You'. Elvis. You would have never known. So it's like, imagine the possibilities with that little instrument!" Some of the material featured on Vedder's unconventional new solo album was written back in the mid 1990's, when he was first encouraged to pick up the instrument. He describes the ukulele as a companion during his times of loneliness, saying, "If it weren't for the ukulele I would have been by myself. The songs were just written for my own benefit".
Eddie Vedder's new album features duets with Glen Hansard of The Frames, and with Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power. Vedder is scheduled to promote the record with a summer solo tour, before re-joining Pearl Jam for a number of dates in the fall.