Tom Petty – Don’t Come Around Here No More

When I first heard this song in the 1980s…the instrument that stood out was the sitar. I’ve been in love with that instrument since I heard Norwegian Wood. I want one and if I find a cheap one I will get it. One strum and you are back in the sixties and it fit this song well…or this song fits the sitar.

Sitar - Wikipedia

After Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers toured in 1983, they took some time off, and Petty started working with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics. This was the first song they wrote together, and the psychedelic sound was a big departure from Petty’s work with The Heartbreakers.

Petty released Southern Accents and it was going to be a double album produced by Stewart…but ended up being a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers single album, with Jimmy Iovine producing some songs and Stewart producing others. Personally I never thought this song fit with most of the other songs but I liked the album all the same.

Even in the 80s I wasn’t in love with videos after a few years but…this one I loved. It remains one of my favorite music videos.

The song peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100, #20 in Canada, #50 in the UK, and #42 in New Zealand in 1985.

From Songfacts

Stewart tells the full glorious story in The Dave Stewart Songbook, but here are the highlights: Eurythmics had a huge hit with “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” and became a phenomenon in the United States. They played the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, and Stewart met Stevie Nicks backstage after the show. She had broken up with Joe Walsh the day before, so she took Stewart home with her and they had a romantic encounter. The next morning, Stevie kicked him out, and Stewart flew to San Francisco for his next gig. After the show, he used a Portastudio to create a track using a drum machine, a synthesizer and a sitar. Reflecting on the last 24 hours, Stewart says: “I really liked Stevie and she seemed vulnerable and fragile when I was leaving that morning. I was thinking about that and the situation she was in and I started singing, ‘Don’t come around her no more.'”

A few days later Stewart was staying with producer Jimmy Iovine, who was working on Stevie’s Bella Donna album. Stewart played him his demo, and they started writing the song for Stevie. Stewart didn’t know that Nicks and Iovine were once a couple, and when she came over to record the song, tensions boiled over and she left in a huff. Iovine decided to give Tom Petty the song, and had him come by, where they finished it up. Petty and Nicks had worked with Iovine on the duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which went on Stevie’s album, so it was only fair that Petty got this one.

The video used an Alice In Wonderland theme, which was Stewart’s idea – it reflected how he felt coming to Los Angeles. It was directed by Jeff Stein, who used a black-and-white tiled background and oversized, elaborate costumes starring Tom Petty as the Mad Hatter. Stewart appears in the beginning of the video playing the sitar on a giant mushroom. At the end, the girl becomes a cake and is eaten by the band, something that caused enough of a stir that they created a version where she doesn’t get eaten. The video was a huge hit on MTV, helping introduce Petty to a younger audience and building anticipation for his next videos. (Read our interview with Dave Stewart.)

MTV ordered a shot of a grinning Petty while Alice gets served edited out of the video before they would air it. “They said it was just too lascivious,” he told Billboard. “They were like, ‘Well, you can do it, but you can’t enjoy it that much.'”

Louise “Wish” Foley plays Alice in the video. At the casting call, she was dressed demure, like Alice would, while the other girls auditioning (mostly models) were to the nines. Foley went on to land roles in the TV series Santa Barbara and Family.

Don’t Come Around Here No More

Don’t come around here no more
Don’t come around here no more
Whatever you’re looking for
Hey! don’t come around here no more

I’ve given up, I’ve given up
I’ve given up on waiting any longer
I’ve given up, on this love getting stronger

I don’t feel you any more
you darken my door
Whatever you’re looking for
Hey! don’t come around here no more

I’ve given up, I’ve given up
I’ve given up, you tangle my emotions
I’ve given up, honey please admit it is over

[Chorus]

Stop walking down my street
Who do you expect to meet?
Whatever you’re looking for
Hey! don’t come around here no more

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

101 thoughts on “Tom Petty – Don’t Come Around Here No More”

  1. Some back story on this one. Too bad Nicks passed, it would have fit her persona at the time. The video reminds me of an LSD thing, but the California reference also makes perfect sense. I never looked at Tom Petty being too old for MTV and its audience, but I guess he was.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It would have fit Nicks well you are right.
      I have to ask you Phil…have you ever even tried to play a sitar? I’ve played an electric one with the drone.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I have, back in the summer of 1967. The drummer in our band was a student of all things India, having discovered Sitar music on a Beatles album. I believe he found one at Pier One Imports in Dallas, of all places. Barry was quite a musical prodigy and for that, we called him “Lil Spector,” after the savant producer, Phil Spector. Barry, somehow figured out how to tune the beast, and then play a few tunes on it. Holding that thing in my lap, I may as well have been holding an alien space craft. I handed it back to Barry. Who invented this contraption? Well, someone in India that had time and imagination.
        Barry begged the band members to let him play it live at one of our gigs. We finally gave in and let him play it at the Richardson Rec Center where we were playing a teen dance. Before the concert, he changed into a white robe and from somewhere produced two teenage girls dressed the same. The three of them sat crossed legged on a rug in front of the equipment. One girl played bongos, one played little cymbls, and of course Barry commanded the Sitar. It was a torture to hear the music they produced. The crowd of teens didn’t get it, but because the Beatles made it cool, they listened. The recital was going alright until the strings on the beast started popping, one after another forcing Barry to improvise on the ones he had left, which were many. The poor Sitar didn’t fare well and eventually it warped so badly he couldn’t adjust the strings, so he hung it on his bedroom wall. We still called him “Lil Spector.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Great story Phil! I would have never thought of Pier One Imports having one but I guess it makes sense.
        I would imagine cheap ones are really cheap…hey Lil’ Spector did his Sitar part and had girls helping…I don’t think many other bands had that going on at the time.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. The same guy that directed it did a Who doc…it probably did cost a lot for then.
      How have you been Matt? I just got over an email meltdown at work…so I’ll be around more than I have been.

      Like

      1. I have been well Max. I had minor surgery recently, so I am taking things easy for the time being. I’m trying to catch up on the hundreds of ‘followed’ blog posts I have missed in the last month or more. How about yourself and your family? What happened with the email meltdown?
        I’m looking forward to watching the Wild Card game tonight. How do you like the Dodgers chances this PS? Too bad Kershaw is injured. Sherzer has been a beast for you guys.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hope you are alright Matt! 106 wins…and they are a Wildcard…it’s hard to believe. Kershaw is done and if he chooses to have Tommy John surgery…he won’t be back until 2023 probably…I think he is in the Hall of Fame if he retires today.

        We are moving everything to the Microsoft platform in the cloud (Azure) from physical servers…our servers are old…from 2007 and we ran Windows Server 2003…before we could move everyone from the old email server…it died. It took weeks to get into the old databases and drag all of the old email out..

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      3. I’m well buddy. I didn’t realise they were Wild Card. I thought they went straight through. When do they play? Hadn’t Kershaw had Tommy John surgery before? I didn’t realise it was so serious.

        That sounds like quite the dilemma regarding the Servers and what-not. But all is OK now?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They play tomorrow…one game. a 106 win Dodger team plays the Cardinals that won 90 in a one game playoff.

        We are still moving the company but I got the executives email back and slowly working on everyone else.

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      5. That’s crazy with that amount of wins they are not straight in. SF surprised everyone this year. I look forward to seeing your Dodgers tomorrow then. Will be barracking for them although I like Molina a lot and how SL finished.

        So you’re extracting the emails. One smart cookie lol

        Liked by 1 person

      6. MLB is talking about changing the playoff system next year but…it’s the same rules for everyone…it’s just odd.
        The Cardinals have always been a thorn in the Dodgers side…

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      7. What’s the use of having such a long season with so many games if they let so many teams into the play-offs. I agree with the traditionalists on this. What are they talking about doing next year? I didn’t know that about the Cardinals.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Making the tiers of the playoffs line up by your wins and losses I believe. Hey if the Dodgers want it..they have to beat them. Like I said it’s the same rules for everyone…but it would make sense to line up the playoffs that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. To me it would be unfair and advantaged towards teams in easier divisions and leagues who they play more often. I don’t know how they get away from that unless all the teams played each other evenly rather than more frequently teams in their own division and league

        Liked by 1 person

      10. The NL East where the Cardinals reside is very weak…I don’t know how they would tier it though.

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      11. Yes the Cardinals are in a weak part. From a newbie and outside fan, I’ve never understood the logic of two leagues and a different rules system such as pitchers batting. I don’t know why they don’t have one league and all teams play each other team in the whole MLB evenly. But I gather there is more than a hundred years of history which stand against any radical structural changes like that posed above.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. It’s the history and the AL and the NL were really divided when I grew up…the thing that made that exiting was…the two teams in the World Series would have NEVER faced each other that season or any other season except the World Series.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. “Southern Accents” has some strong songs. I like “Rebels” and the title track (which Johnny Cash successfully covered), but also the rather cautiously arranged “Spike” or the solid “Dogs On The Run”.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the upper tier of his songs to me, always liked it though it was quite different than most of his material. Great backstory though- had no idea Stewart was so involved in the writing of it, let alone it being inspired by Stevie Nicks! Wonder what Lindsey B’s take on that would be…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I was just thinking that, after her begging to be part of the band…there she is. I usually don’t like live recordings (I want to BE there, not hear it recorded) but, this is pretty good.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always liked it…but I thought it stuck out from the album…that doesn’t bother me whatsoever…hey…I like the White Album.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He made five albums quickly at the start of his career. I reckon he felt pigeonholed after that and tried to change up his sound. Didn’t really figure it out until Full Moon Fever.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the attitude of this song. It reflects a place many of us have been before. An old love that caused a lot of pain when they left either keeps dropping in to keep their memory alive, or they start showing up again after a long absence and you’ve had time to get over them. I love the sitar in there and I love those random cool vocals in it as well. And oh yeah, I love the video too. Good choice for today, Max!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s probably my favorite of the 80s…chaos is good! lol

      The director made the Who’s The Kids are Alright doc… Just went up to Pete with no experience and asked him… that would not happen today!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of my favorite of Tom Petty’s songs. It was so different from his previous stuff, and I loved the sitar too.

    With regard to the discussion of the song in Songfacts, there seems to be an error in the timeline. Stevie Nicks’ album ‘Bella Donna’ was released in the summer of 1981, so Jimmy Iovine would not have been working on it when Dave Stewart and Tom Petty recorded “Don’t Come Around Here No More” in 1984. And boy, Stevie Nicks sure got around!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes she sure did…just broke up with Joe Walsh and then boom…please to meet you Dave.
      I have also read where she followed the Heartbreakers around…she wanted to actually join them. She has said that and Tom mentioned it also.

      Liked by 1 person

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