Oct. 4, 1996 -- Pearl Jam played a liberal benefit concert in Charlotte, North Carolina last weekend, a show billed hopefully as a "farewell" party for conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, who's currently running for his fifth congressional term. Also on hand was singer Eddie Vedder's new political guru -- "Ms." magazine founder and inner-child advocate Gloria Steinem, back from the 70's.
EDDIE VEDDER, Pearl Jam, vocals: We get a lot of letters, requests to play Bar Mitzvahs, Sweet 16 birthday parties, and things like that, so when we heard there was a retirement party we didn't think we could do it. When we heard it was for Jesse Helms we said, "Sign us up.
MTV: The invitation was issued by two very liberal groups: Artists for a Hate Free America and Musicians Organized for Voter Education, better known as M.O.V.E. And since they're based in North Carolina, M.O.V.E.'s main target is Republican Senior Senator Jesse Helms.
ERIK OSE, M.O.V.E.: As a young
person in the State of North Carolina, I feel that he doesn't represent me on education, the environment, he need to spend money to research AIDS, which is one of the leading killers of young people in this state.
GLORIA STEINEM, Activist: Ultra-Right-wingers have all concentrated on the Republican Party, taken it over, and now centrists and liberal republicans have no place to go, so this isn't about being partisan, you know, it's about being against extremists.
MTV: Are there certain issues that he's against that are more important to you than others?
VEDDER: The censorship issue would hit closest to home. Through art, that is where most of your social commentary has been made. If you're not able to do that, that's a scary future.
VEDDER, on stage: The future is now. Let's go, register to vote by the end of the night all right? Do me a favor. Let's go there, all right?
MTV: Are you gonna vote?
JEFF AMENT, Pearl Jam, bass: Yeah, we're gonna
be in Europe, but we're all set up.
MTV: With your absentee ballots?
SARAH STEPHENS, Artists for a Hate Free America: Elections bring a lot to the surface that maybe aren't as obvious or as out there as at other times.
MTV: Eddie, how do you follow politics in general, where do you get your information from?
VEDDER: Gloria, I just call Gloria.
STEINEM, on stage: And you are going to vote for yourself, and change the face of the Senate, and change the face of Congress, so that it looks like the country.
VEDDER: I'm kind of excited about what could happen in this country this next election, I'm pretty excited, if we can direct some light onto some of these issues, that's the least we can do. In fact I think we feel a responsibility.
AMENT: It's a really basic issue, you know: it's anti-hate. It's a good thing.
VEDDER: Seeing the crowds that we have seen in the last 4 weeks or something, I was pretty inspired