Tom Petty – Even The Losers

Damn the Torpedos is one of Tom Petty’s best albums. It was a huge commercial breakthrough for him and the Heartbreakers.

Tom wrote this song and was inspired by an old crush from a night in 1969. He returned from college that year to go home and went to a party and dropped acid for the first time. He saw a girl named Cindy that he had a crush on in school but she never gave him much time before. At the party they hung out  but she told him that it was only going to be that night…it wasn’t anything long term.  Tom said he tried later to get with her later but was turned down. Tom said he was scarred by this unrequited love…that is where the basis of the song came from…

It was a busy night on Petty’s part.

Petty later said…‘ When I wrote ‘Even the Losers’ years later, that night came back. I obsessed over her so much. She’s probably in a lot of songs.”

It was also on that night when Petty had an epiphany and he realized he should be in a rock ‘n roll band.

The song for some reason was not released as a single. The album peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in New Zealand, #2 in Canada, and #57 in the UK in 1980.

Mike Campbell struggled to come up with a guitar solo. Petty asked, “Well, what would Chuck Berry do?” Within minutes, the solo was recorded.

Tom Petty on Cindy: “She let me know it was just for that night,”  “And it scarred my brain all over again. In a matter of hours, I’d let myself believe another story, the one I’d wanted to believe for a long time. I only saw her a few times after that. But finally she took me into a room at someone’s place and said, ‘You keep trying, but you and me isn’t going to happen.’ When I wrote ‘Even the Losers’ years later, that night came back. I obsessed over her so much. She’s probably in a lot of songs.”

From Songfacts

In 1914, Thomas Hardy published a poem which was a bizarre conversation between a dead woman and her dog. The animal was digging at her grave, she thought to pay its respects, until it told her it was simply burying a bone, and had forgotten where she was buried. In life, people we once held dear, often forget us just as easily, and this song is in the same vein.

Tom Petty died October 2, 2017, which prompted Rolling Stone to publish Tom Petty’s 50 Greatest Songs wherein he put this one down to divine intervention. The uptempo, overtly commercial “Even The Losers” is the third track on the 1979 album Damn The Torpedoes wherein it runs to 3 minutes 59 seconds. Petty married his first wife, Jane Benyo, in 1974, so if “Even The Losers” had any basis in fact, his broken heart had clearly mended by then. 

Petty, the sole writer on this track, framed the lyric around an interpersonal relationship, but drew inspiration from his legal battle with MCA Records, which nearly thwarted the album. After the band’s record company, Shelter, was sold to MCA, Petty refused to make the move, leading to a flurry of lawsuits that Petty suppressed by filing bankruptcy. A deal was reached, with Petty joining the MCA imprint Backstreet under new terms. The ordeal left some scars, but Petty got to keep a little bit of pride, and a lot more of his earnings.

Speaking about Damn The Torpedoes with the New Musical Express in 1980, Petty said: “I wanted to write anthems for underdogs, songs like ‘Even The Losers’ and ‘Refugee’… the theme of the album wasn’t self-conscious but when I put it together afterwards I could see it was about standing up for your rights, the ones that everyone has which can’t be f–ked with or taken away.”

Even The Losers

Well, it was nearly summer we sat on your roof
Yeah, we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I’d show you stars you never could see
Baby, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me

Baby, time meant nothing, anything seemed real
Yeah, you could kiss like fire and you made me feel
Like every word you said was meant to be
No, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me

Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes
Even the losers keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes

Two cars parked on the overpass
Rocks hit the water like broken glass
I should have known right then it was too good to last
God, it’s such a drag when you’re livin’ in the past

Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes
Even the losers keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes

Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes
Even the losers keep a little bit of pride
Yeah, they get lucky sometimes

Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes
Even the losers get lucky sometimes

Even the losers get lucky sometimes

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

31 thoughts on “Tom Petty – Even The Losers”

    1. It’s a mystery as to why so many songs are released in only one country or countries, but not others. There must be significant costs involved with releasing songs in different markets, otherwise, why not just release a song worldwide with the hopes it will be a hit in at least several markets/countries?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I loved him with ELO.

        Age is what gets the rockers, to me. It happened to Elton, Rod, Tom and Jeff…and others. They lose the spark and become dull. “Better to burn out than fade away…”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I believe also tastes change… and they drift toward that. That is why AC/DC sounds the same… they don’t give a flip. One example would be Rod Stewart who was excellent in the early seventies but changed with disco…

        Some can change and mature like the Beatles and a select few. You might like their earlier stuff but for the most part people like Abbey Road and that era.

        Plus when you get older you get married and tangled up in fame… your perspective changes… any way that is my best answer! Lol

        Like

      3. Good answer! Plus, fans have individual tastes and opinions, too.

        I actually think AC/DC sounded much different in the Bon Scott years. Fleetwood Mac changed. Journey changed. Bad Company changed. LRB changed. I guess…either you like the changes, or…you don’t.

        Pink Floyd…I liked their newer stuff, not the older. Same with Fleetwood & Journey. I’m the opposite with the Beatles, ELO (Jeff Lynne) & Tom Petty.

        Hey. Variety is the spice of life.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. In the Bon Scott years yea…but they had to change a little for Brian’s voice and his songwriting…they got more simple if anything.

        With Pink Floyd I now like their beginning. I like Syd Barrett a lot. You can hear their future though…all in those songs…the progression.

        With the Beatles I like them all…because you can still hear those melodies in Strawberry Fields, She Loves You, and Come Together..

        Oh with Journey…ONLY the Gregg Rolie years…ONLY. Before Cain brought his ballads in. Give me Wheel In The Sky or Lights and I love it…”Feeling That Way” / “Anytime” from ‘Infinity…I love…

        Like

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