Pearl Jam played for David Letterman on The Late Show for the first time in 1996, appearing a number of times on the show. Nearly 20 years after his first appearance, frontman Eddie Vedder showed up to sing an emotional version of his band’s song “Better Man” to commemorate Letterman’s departure on Monday night.
“We couldn’t be happier to have him back here with us tonight,” Letterman said.
Vedder joined Hollywood heavyweight Tom Hanks in the third-to-last episode of the King of late night’s show. Led by a gorgeous piano intro from The Late Show‘s Paul Schafer on piano, Vedder’s performance was impassioned and poignant, a stripped-start version of the song that was unique to even the most diehard fans.
He breaks a string around the three-minute mark, but doesn’t miss a beat, and even flexes some Pete Townshend-like windmill strums at 4:29.
“This is one we’ll remember,” Letterman says at the end of the clip, before hugging Vedder.