Eddie Vedder was in Bad Radio for a short time in the late 80s, living in San Diego.
As he said in an interview, “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 fucking bullshit. As far as songs and stuff, they weren’t reading, they weren’t living. They knew how big [Mötley Crüe drummer] Tommy Lee’s new drum kit was, but, you know, fuck that.”
Rolling Stone breaks down the legend and lore behind the song that Vedder had originally wrote back in high school.
The song would eventually find it’s way on Pearl Jam’s third record, Vitalogy.
In a 2001 SPIN article, Brendan O’Brien talked about the song.
“There’s a great song we recorded for Vs., “Better Man,” which ended up on Vitalogy. One of the first rehearsals we did they played it and I said “Man, that song’s a hit.” Eddie just went “uhhh.” I immediately knew I’d just said the wrong thing. We cut it once for Vs., he wanted to give it away to this Greenpeace benefit record, the idea was that the band was going to play and some other singer was going to sing it. I remember saying to the engineer, Nick [DiDia], “This is one of their best songs and they’re going to give it away! Can’t happen!” And we went to record it and I’m not going to say we didn’t try very hard, but it didn’t end up sounding very good. I may have even sabotaged that version but I won’t admit to that. It took us to the next record, recording it two more times, before he became comfortable with it because it was such a blatantly great pop song.”
Vedder said in the LA Times in ’96, “Sometimes I think of how far I’ve come from the teenager sitting on the bed in San Diego writing ‘Better Man’ and wondering if anyone would ever even hear it. But then there are times when it just all seems too much.”
The song was never released as a single but still topped the rock radio charts and is considered one of the bands signature songs.