Tom Petty – You Don’t Know How It Feels

I remember seeing the video and MTV would play the version with the word “joint” in reversed…like people would wonder what Tom was rolling. Another version I heard on the radio was… instead of “roll another joint” it was “hit another joint”… which is…worse?

“The strangest thing happened. I wrote this song not thinking that it was controversial in any way and I nearly left this song off the album ’til the very end, and we put it on. Imagine my surprise when this song comes on television and they say, ‘Let’s roll another noojh,’ which sounded worse to me than joint. Because, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a noojh, but it sounds really wicked.”

I do miss Tom…

This song peaked at #13 in 1995 in the Billboard 100.

Tom Petty on this song: “Every blue moon or so, I might have a toke on somebody’s… cigarette. It’s an OK way to live your life, but it’s not to be advised. I’m not going to say it’s good or bad. 

But I wrote this song a while back and I was trying to do this character in the song who was kind of down and looking for some company. And instead of having him say, ‘Let’s have another beer’ – they always have to have that in the song – I thought this guy should roll another joint.”

From Songfacts

“You don’t know how it feels to be me” is something many of us have said to seek empathy for our burdens. Typical of Petty’s songwriting, the lyric is couched in ambiguity, which could be the point: We don’t know how it feels to be him, so how can we possibly know what the song is about? It’s certainly not entirely autobiographical, at least literally, as Petty’s father was not born to rock – he was leery of his son’s career in music.

We’ll get to the point: marijuana had a little something to do with this song. Here’s what Petty said about it on his VH1 Storytellers special:

The video was directed by Phil Joanou. It’s one continuous shot, with the camera revolving around a microphone as all kinds of crazy stuff happens in the background, including a circus act and a bank robbery.

Tom Petty was one of MTV’s biggest stars, but they wouldn’t play the video as delivered because of the drug reference (sex and violence were generally OK on the network, but they were very sensitive about drugs). When the video aired, the word “joint” was reversed so it came out sounding like “noojh.” 

Perhaps to atone, MTV awarded it Best Male Video at the VMAs.

This won a Grammy in 1995 for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. >>

The band performed this on Saturday Night Live when they were the musical guests November 19, 1994. Their drummer, Stan Lynch, had left the band, so Dave Grohl, who had not yet formed Foo Fighters, sat in for the performance. Steve Ferrone got the gig as Heartbreakers drummer a short time later.

You Don’t Know How It Feels

Let me run with you tonight
I’ll take you on a moonlight ride
There’s someone I used to see
But she don’t give a damn for me

But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint
And turn the radio loud, I’m too alone to be proud
You don’t know how it feels
You don’t know how it feels to be me

People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow cold
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream

So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
You don’t know how it feels to be me

My old man was born to rock
He’s still tryin’ to beat the clock
Think of me what you will
I got a little space to fill

So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
No, you don’t know how it feels to be me

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Tom Petty – You Don’t Know How It Feels”

  1. Pretty decent single even if not that high on my personal list of favorites from tom… he was pretty talented and consistent! Fun video, I don’t think I’d ever seen it before. RIP “Lucky” (and “Luanne”- sad how his character and the one he loved from ‘King of the Hill’ are now both gone).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was watching King of the Hill the other day…saw Lucky and thought about Tom….Made me think of him to do this post.
      Great show.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s subtle compared to many tv animated shows but I love it.And once i first came to Texas I soon thought ‘wow. Waco IS Arlen. ‘ lol

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wild Flowers would be probably in my top 10 best sounding albums…the production is incredible. Just listen to those drums…WOW! I could just listen to them on loop – without the other instruments lol Anyway great song and album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have that cd…yes it does have a great sound. It’s more bare than Into The Great Wide Open…more clear.


  3. Yeah. No. Not fond of this at all. And, I thought he recorded this as a solo artist. I didn’t think he was still with The Heartbreakers.

    I liked his older stuff…70s, 80s… After Let Me Up, I lost all interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I didn’t think you would be lol… Well on his “solo” albums…there were Heartbreakers. On this one “Petty chose to use most of his regular band as session players”

      My favorite songs by him are American Girl and The Waiting.


      1. Wow. If HIS band were the session musicians, why not give them credit as his band. I mean, royalties from credit and all…

        My very favorite one is Stop Draggin My Heart Around even tho it is more a Nicks package than TP/HB. Just a great piece of music. I like your two plus You Got Lucky, Woman In Love, Breakdown, Refugee… To me, his solo stuff is mush compared to his previous, hard rocking, bluesy, gut-grabbing masterpieces. Don’t Come Around Here No More was different with the Eastern influence, which I like, but it still had guts to it. And, the video was an absolute scream.

        But, that’s just me. Everybody be different…❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I always thought the Don’t Come Around Here No More was the best video of it’s day…loved it.

        This album was more of my cut off with Tom Petty…not cut off I don’t guess but this is where I stopped following as much.

        Liked by 1 person

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