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SoundTRAX: Eddie Vedder from "Into the Wild"

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

For today's SoundTRAX, we're taking a look at the first solo album by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder: the soundtrack to the 2007 film, Into the Wild.

Into the Wild starred Emile Hirsch— who is conveniently celebrating a birthday today— and was inspired by the true and tragic story of Christopher McCandless, who naively ventured into the Alaskan wilderness to live off the land.

Two-time Oscar winning actor Sean Penn directed the film and chose longtime friend Vedder to provide the music.

Vedder told Reuters:

“It was like being a songwriter for a band -- serving the voice of Chris McCandless. Not my voice, or something I wanted to say. In almost every aspect of this process, it simplified things. There were fewer choices. The story was there and the scenes were there. If there was anything that I learned with my own writing process, maybe there’s too many choices for what to write about. Just the amount of subject matter in the world these days; maybe that feels chaotic for me. This took away all the choices. There was a point A and a point B, and I found it pretty easy to get there without hitting all the other points in between.”

Vedder played every instrument and wrote nearly every song on it. But I'm going to focus on one he didn't: "Hard Sun."

I love what he did with it and I love the addition of Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker on backing vocals.

The song was a cover of a tune by the Canadian artist Indio, whose one-and-only album Big Harvest was released in 1989. His version of "Hard Sun" was a Top Ten hit in Canada, but he essentially walked away from the music business before the LP was even released.

But you can bet he re-emerged. Eventually.

Two years after the film and soundtrack were released, Indio, aka Gordon Peterson, filed a lawsuit claiming Vedder altered the lyrics to his song, thereby "eroding the integrity of the composition."

But since Indio's former label Universal Music signed off on the song being used, the suit against Vedder was ultimately dropped. It wasn't all bad news for the Canadian, though, as a simultaneous suit against the label resulted in Indio getting an "undisclosed settlement."

Drama resolved.

And both versions are pretty terrific.

You can check out today's SoundTRAX with Eddie Vedder above.

You can also enjoy Indio's original version of "Hard Sun," which features backing vocals from Brenda Russell, Karen Peris, and the one and only Joni Mitchell.

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.

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