The first question you might ask, upon hearing that Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder has decided to release a ukulele record, is “Why?” A fair question, that.
After all, perhaps it’s not the most obvious career choice for a 46-year-old career musician to make. Why devote an entire album to a cute, four-string novelty of an instrument, recording a batch of songs—a third of which are covers—with the help of a couple famous friends sprinkled here and there (The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard and Chan “Cat Power” Marshall each appear on one track)—a batch of songs you’ll release on your own imprint, freed of big-business interests? Why take a lighthearted break from your legacy act that’s essentially proven all that is has to after 20+ years and can now successfully tour on its laurels whenever it wants? Why then, after releasing said album, which you will cheekily call Ukulele Songs, would you book a month’s-worth of shows that will all sell out almost immediately? Why foist all of this upon a fanbase that’s gracefully aging right along with you and is thus a little more malleable than either of you were in your mid-twenties, a little more open-minded, a little more down for whatever? The answer, clearly, is “Why not?”