According to a transcript of the speech posted on a Pearl Jam message board, Vedder never mentioned Cornell by name but did refer to losing “a really close friend” and called him someone he looked up to like his older brother.
“I want to be there for the family, be there for the community, be there for my brothers in my band, certainly the brothers in his band. But these things will take time, but my friend is going to be gone forever,” he said. “I will love him forever,” he later concluded.
Cornell and Vedder were longtime friends, playing together in supergroup Temple of the Dog since the band’s 1990 inception. Prior to Tuesday night, Vedder seemingly paid tribute to Cornell at a Saturday show, where he changed the lyrics of Pearl Jam song “Long Road” from “But still / Something’s missing” to “Without you / Something is missing” and performed Pearl Jam’s “Immortality.”
During that concert, he responded to a fan shouting out “I love you” by thanking the person. “I’m thinking of a lot of people tonight,” he said. “And some in particular and their families. And I just know that healing takes time if it ever happens. It takes time, and that means you have to start somewhere. So let it be music. Let it be love and togetherness.”
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Video of Vedder’s speech from Tuesday isn’t currently available, but read the transcript in full below.
Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate these days. I was thinking about the history of this building and the Bowie history. So I started to think about that and my mind began to wander. It’s not a good…
So I haven’t really been talking about some things and I kind of… now it feels like it’s conspicuous because I lost a really close friend of mine, somebody who…[Applause]
I’ll say this too, I grew up as four boys, four brothers, and I lost my brother two years ago tragically like that in an accident and after that, and losing a few other people, I’m not good at it, meaning I’m not…I have not been willing to accept the reality and that’s just how I’m dealing with it. [Applause starts] No, no, no, no.
So I want to be there for the family, be there for the community, be there for my brothers in my band, certainly the brothers in his band. But these things will take time, but my friend is going to be gone forever, and I will just have to…
These things take time and I just want to send this out to everyone who was affected by it and they all back home and here appreciate it so deeply — the support and the good thoughts of a man who was a…you know, he wasn’t just a friend, he was someone I looked up to like my older brother.
About two days after the news, I think it was the second night we were sleeping in this little cabin near the water, a place he would’ve loved. And all these memories started coming in about 1:30 a.m. like woke me up. Like big memories, memories I would think about all the time. Like the memories were big muscles.
And then I couldn’t stop the memories. And trying to sleep, it was like if the neighbors had the music playing and you couldn’t stop it. But then it was fine because then it got into little memories. It just kept going and going and going. And I realized how lucky I was to have hours worth of…you know, if each of these memories was quick and I had hours of them, how fortunate was I?! And I didn’t want to be sad, wanted to be grateful, not sad. I’m still thinking about those memories and I will live with those memories in my heart and I will…love him forever. [Applause and standing ovation]