“I think it is the most powerful song ever written,” Vedder said prior to the performance, “which is why I have never played it. It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it. If you’d like join me or use your voices or hold a light there might be some people out there that need to know they are not alone.”
The cover version comes after a poignant anti-war essay penned by the frontman and released on the Pearl Jam website, which opened with the iconic line from the Lennon anthem, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” and concluded with the phrase, “I hope someday you’ll join us.”
The statement was in response to criticism that Vedder was making anti-Israel sentiments in a recent mid-concert speech against acts of war. “You know sometimes if you speak out people are going to misunderstand and they take things a certain way or another,” Vedder told the Portugal audience before performing the Lennon classic.
“If you don’t speak out you don’t know,” he added. “If someone doesn’t like it probably means it has some kind of meaning. It’s not just bullshit. It’s not just nothing.”
Watch two fan-shot videos of the cover below. The first has better quality audio, and the second has Vedder’s entire speech.
Watch: Eddie Vedder – Imagine – Live in Portugal
Watch: Eddie Vedder – Anti-War Speech + Imagine – Live in Portugal