If you’re a die-hard Pearl Jam fan, you probably already know this. If you’re a casual fan you may think “Better Man” was written by Eddie Vedder when he was with Pearl Jam. He wrote the song when he was in high school about his Mom and her husband. Recently a video surfaced of Vedder singing this classic with his band at the time “Bad Radio.” Two years before joining Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder fronted the San Diego rock band Bad Radio. The group had a decent local following, but they never recorded anything besides a handful of demos and after a couple of years Vedder grew frustrated by their lack of progress. “We’d win ‘battle of the bands’ on intensity alone, but it was coming from me,” he later said. “I couldn’t get anybody else to give up their f*#@ing bull#@*t. As far as songs and stuff, they weren’t reading, they weren’t living.” Bad Radio never recorded the song in the studio, but you can watch them play it at a 1989 gig.
A rendition was cut for Vs in 1993 that producer Brendan O’Brien was anxious to include on the album, but it wouldn’t happen until they cut Vitalogy the next year. Even then though the group didn’t officially release it as a single, it still climbed to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart.
Pearl Jam has played the song in concert over 500 times, and it was one of four tunes they played during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony set earlier this year. Clearly, Vedder no longer feels reservations about the song. He’d probably just rather nobody watch him play it with Bad Radio back in 1989, but in the era of YouTube that just isn’t possible. Now, you can too watch it below.