Eddie Vedder has found inspiration for Pearl Jam music in some of his life’s difficulties. “Better Man” was about his mother’s marriage to Peter Mueller, a man he believed to be his father until he was a teenager. When his mother finally told him about his biological father, Vedder says he quickly forgave her for keeping the secret.
Vedder was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on Nov. 2. When Stern asked how Vedder could be so accepting of such monumental information, Vedder explained his perspective.
Eddie Vedder understood why his mother didn’t reveal his biological father to him
Vedder grew up in Mueller’s household with siblings who were Mueller’s biological children. He understood that in the era during which he grew up, it was not as common to speak openly about mixed families.
“Think about this,” Vedder told Stern. “I had three younger brothers and we’re extremely, extremely close. That was their logic in not saying, and this is 1969 or something. Their logic was we want them to feel like brothers and we don’t want them to feel separated like stepbrothers.”
Vedder acknowledged that in 2020, his mother might have been more comfortable telling him.
“Nowadays it’s much different,” Vedder said. “Nowadays you have single moms raising kids. It’s not a social pariah. You have stepbrothers, you have families. I think that logic was there, whether it was skewed or not.”
Peter Mueller inspired Pearl Jam songs
The Pearl Jam song “Alive” is specifically about a man finding out the man he considered his father was actually his stepfather. The song goes even further, but Vedder acknowledges his lyrics came from thinking about his own situation.
“That was a few years after I found out so it must’ve still be resonating and not dealt with,” Vedder said. “You do get to make some music of it. Then you’ve got some place to put it. You’ve actually made something out of it. That’s the good thing about the arts or painting or writing.”
Vedder was already struggling with Mueller when he found out his biological father was Edward Severson, Jr.
“Going back to when my mother told me, I reckon 15, 16 about who my real father was, because the guy I thought was my dad I was kind of not being treated well by him,” Vedder said. “When my mom told me that this guy wasn’t my father and it was somebody else, it was a shock but I was so grateful in a way. I was like oh f*ck, thank God.”
Eddie Vedder has no regrets
Vedder concluded that there was no reason to harbor a grudge. He accepted his mother’s decision.
“I just don’t see the point of living a life with regrets of nothing I can change,” Vedder said. “It wasn’t of my own doing. I can’t get upset with myself and I don’t have the bandwidth to get upset at other people for it anymore. I think about all the issues that people have in the world. To be honest, you could say I was fortunate to be born a White male in the United States of America. I’m not going to complain about some stuff that happened.”