Alan Cross spoke with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and asked the question I've been curious about for years. We now finally know how Vedder came to record Indio's "Hard Sun" for the Into The Wild soundtrack.
Alan Cross: How did you come across “Hard Sun” for the “Into the Wild” soundtrack?
Eddie Vedder: Ah yeah the Canadian connection. When Shawn first showed me the movie it was in the film, him and I were just watching it in my living room.
And to be honest, it was the first time I have heard it; and I felt like I have heard it before. I couldn’t tell if it was from the late 60’s, mid 70’s. I couldn’t tell. It had this kind of timeless….
AC: So it was Sean Penn who found it?
EV: Sean at one point knew Gordon or had been in contact with him, or had friends that were friends of his, and Sean has really eclectic musical taste.
He can quote Phil Ochs at a drop of a hat or give you a 12 minute Bob Dylan song he could recite in your ear, and at the same time he’ll know stuff like David Baerwald [American singer-songwriter who used to be in David & David and now a solo performer]. He is a good friend of his and I think he knew this fellow Gordon, and loved this song. I think I wrote something for that piece as well.
And then he said “I think that’s good but I think we need to go with “Hard Sun;” and I thought “Great! That’s less work for me to do!” And he said “No, no! YOUR version of it.” And then I thought, "F%$^*!" [Laugh]
So I really tried to make it, you know, every element to mirror something in his... I tried to be really true to his delivery of it. It’s a really great song. I’ve not met him. I thought to write him but I never did. I had kids and things moved very quick for me. I hope he liked it.
AC: We don’t know because he has gone underground; he has been underground for like 15 years. And we don’t know anything about Gordon Peterson. He never resurfaces.
And the original album which is called “Big Harvest,” and it's from 1989. It's like a hardcore collector’s item now.
EV: Wow! Yeah, apparently he reached out to a website maybe a few years ago... and it seemed like he was alive and well.
And it sounds to me like he had a hard time consolidating music and the business atmosphere that sometimes you have to work with, or the pressures of being on labels and what their visions of music are. And as a solo artist and not a band, it's understandable.
I think it’s very hard, myself. It’s a great job but that’s the tricky part, and for someone that says they could not handle that part, I actually respect it.