Stevie Nicks and the Heartbreakers – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

Steve Nicks visited Atlantic Records’ president Doug Morris and made her pitch for her first solo record: “So, listen, what I’d really like to do is be in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ band. He said, ‘No. That’s not going to happen.'” She then asked: “So I can make, like, a Tom Petty girl album?” And she made Bella Donna

Tom Petty met Nicks while he was recording his group’s album Damn The Torpedoes. She asked him half-jokingly if he could write her a song that she could record for her first solo album. Petty didn’t take her request seriously at first, but Nicks reiterated her request a year later as Petty was putting together his Hard Promises album. Petty wrote a ballad called “Insider” at his home, played it to the Heartbreakers (to their approval), recorded a demo with his band, and sent the demo to Nicks. After listening to the demo of “Insider,” Nicks visited Petty at his studio, taped the song with Petty and the Heartbreakers, then gave the tape to Petty, saying, “You love this so much… YOU take the song.” He did, and included it on Hard Promises.

Shortly after Insider was finished, Petty and company recorded a song that he and guitarist Mike Campbell composed about a year earlier…”Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – and sent that demo to Nicks’ producer, Jimmy Iovine. She loved it, saying, “That’s what I wanted all along.” Nicks and Petty ended up doing it as a duet.

The song peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #11 in New Zealand in 1981.

Chrissie Hynde would often play the Petty role in this song when she toured with Nicks in the ’00s. They would have a lot of fun with the song…I have it at the bottom.


From Songfacts

This song is about a couple with a complicated relationship. She wants to get rid of him, but he has a hold on her heart. When she tells him to stop dragging that heart around, he explains that he’s just trying to protect her, as “you need someone looking after you.”

Many of the songs Nicks has sung over the years involve hearts in different states of breaking, and many are about her intimate relationships, written either by her or her Fleetwood Mac bandmate/soulmate, Lindsey Buckingham. This song is one of the few she could sing without dealing with the emotional baggage behind it, as it has nothing to do with her personally.

Nicks wanted Petty to produce Bella Donna. He gave it a shot, but it didn’t work out and Jimmy Iovine was brought in. This created an interesting dynamic as Iovine and Nicks began living together while they were making the album.

This was the biggest hit for either Stevie Nicks (as a solo act) or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (who had a competing single out – “Woman In Love” – that didn’t chart). Five years later, they joined forces again and hit #37 with a live version of the Springfields/Searchers classic “Needles and Pins.”

In addition to being The Heartbreakers’ guitarist, Mike Campbell has played on albums by many other artists, including several by Stevie Nicks. He told us how this came together: “I had written the music and Tom had written the words. The Heartbreakers had recorded a version of it with Jimmy Iovine, and Jimmy being the entrepreneur that he was, he was working with Stevie, and I guess he asked Tom if she could try it, and it just developed from there. We cut the track as a Heartbreakers record and when she decided to do it we used that track and she came in and sang over it.” (Read more in our interview with Mike Campbell.)

This had the good fortune of being released around the time MTV went on the air. They didn’t have many videos at the time, so this got a lot of airplay. It introduced a younger audience to Nicks and Petty.

Bella Donna was Nicks’ first solo album. Her output with Fleetwood Mac sold extremely well, but solo success was hardly ensured. When Nicks finished the album, her producer Jimmy Iovine told her she didn’t have a single, and if she didn’t record “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “your record’s going to tank and then you’re not going to have a solo career.”

Nicks was dismayed about removing one of the songs on the album to make room for the track, but she took Iovine’s advice. “I went home and said, ‘You’ve got to drop this self-esteem you’ve got going on right now and realize that the whole reason you even hired Jimmy Iovine was because he produced Tom Petty and you always wanted to be in Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers,” Nicks said while introducing the song in concert. “I said: ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ So, anyway, ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart’ became a huge single, all because Mr. Tom Petty was generous enough to give me that song.”

The song was released as the first single and rose to #3, setting the stage for more hits. The next single was another duet: “Leather And Lace” with Don Henley, which reached #6. It wasn’t until the third single that Nicks was finally on her own: “Edge Of Seventeen” reached #11.

A few years after this was released, Dave Stewart of Euryhmics wrote “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” which he and Iovine started producing for Nicks. By this time, Iovine and Nicks had broken up, and when she came over to work on the song, things didn’t go well and she stormed out. Iovine brought in Tom Petty and they completed the song with him, something Nicks knew was fair considering “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” went on her album. (as told in The Dave Stewart Songbook)

On her 2001 album Trouble In Shangri-La, Nicks thanked Petty in the liner notes. She asked him to write another song for her, but he refused and encouraged her to write it herself. After that conversation, she started writing songs for the album.

Tom Petty had a connection to another song on the album. His wife, Jane, told Nicks that she was “at the age of 17” when she met Tom. Like her husband, Jane was from Gainesville, Florida, and had such a strong country accent that Stevie thought she said “edge of 17,” which provided the title for one of her most popular songs.

In the liner notes to her TimeSpace album, Stevie Nicks said: “Jimmy (Iovine) played this song to me while he was still finishing Tom’s album; it was one of those songs that Tom was not going to do, and he told Jim that I could do it. I wasn’t used to doing other people’s songs, so I didn’t really like the idea at first, but I loved Tom Petty, so I agreed to try. So we went into the studio and sang it live, together. I was completely entranced, and I instantly fell into love with the song. Duets were the things I loved the most… maybe this was a second beginning. And we would sing like no one else, and nobody else would ever sing like us.” 

Petty and Nicks reunited to perform this song when Petty was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year on February 10, 2017.

Before giving her induction speech, Harry Styles sang this with Nicks when she entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 as a solo artist.

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

Baby you’ll come knocking on my front door
Same old line you used to use before
I said yeah… well… what am I supposed to do
I didn’t know what I was getting into

So you’ve had a little trouble in town
Now you’re keeping some demons down
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my heart around

It’s hard to think about what you’ve wanted
It’s hard to think about what you’ve lost
This doesn’t have to be the big get even
This doesn’t have to be anything at all

I know you really want to tell me good-bye
I know you really want to be your own girl

Baby you could never look me in the eye
Yeah you buckle with the weight of the words
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my heart around

There’s people running ’round loose in the world
Ain’t got nothing better to do
Than make a meal of some bright eyed kid
You need someone looking after you

I know you really want to tell me goodbye
I know you really want to be your own girl

Baby you could never look me in the eye
Yeah you buckle with the weight of the words
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my…
Stop draggin’ my heart around

Stop draggin’ my heart around


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

20 thoughts on “Stevie Nicks and the Heartbreakers – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”

  1. Another strong pick Max. I had read about Petty in magazines like Creem but this track may have been the first time I actually heard Tom sing. Mind you that was back in 81 and it was probably on Casey Kasem’s Top 10 show that I watched faithfully back then.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You got that right. I never had an older brother so I had to read magazines and decide if spending this money on that album would be any good or would I get hosed. lol
        No try before you buy like there is now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I had a big sister who liked…”gulp” the Osmonds…geez I could have went down the WRONG road Deke…. I did have an older cousin and his sister to turn me on to the Beatles…they saved me from Osmond and David Cassidy ruin.
        But yea no try before you buy…just reading and listening.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. And hoping for the Best! Lol I got hosed a couple of times one being this British band called Wrathchild. They had a singer named Rocky Shades who was supposedly up for the lead singer spot when Vince Neil killed Razzle in that car crash back in 84.
        Kerrang had a short list of singers and his name was on it so I bought that album that was called Stakk
        That should have been the red flag there but I had to go and spend my allowance on it. hahaha
        I was a pissed 17 year old that day knowing that no matter how doped up Nikki and Tom were they would not take this guy. (Nothing personal Mr Shades!..haha)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. not a bad tune, though I personally have to disagree with Aphoristical, I like her duet with Don Henley better. then again, truth be told, I LUV Fleetwood Mac, including things Stevie wrote and sang for them, but haven’t ever been wildly smitten with Nicks’ solo works. The live version with Chrissie works surprisingly well- both still in good voice for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NOW we’re talkin’! This is one of the best songs in existence! Interesting back story. I never figured Nicks as a Heartbreaker groupie. 😆

    I’ve heard a Gainesville accent, before. Upper Florida has got some Georgia Peach in it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: