Beatles – Don’t Bother Me

In 1975 my friends and cousin had a clubhouse that was an old horse barn. We had a record player, a lantern, and a one-armed bandit. My cousin played the Meet The Beatles album and me… being a Monkee fan soaked it up and it started a lifelong love for The Beatles.

My first favorite Beatle song was It Won’t Be Long…then this one came in second at the time. George wrote this when he was down with the flu in a hotel room in the Northeast of England. It was the first song he wrote……technically he did have partial credit on the instrumental Cry For A Shadow.

Is it George’s best song? Of course not but it fits in well with the early Beatles and it gets overlooked. If you think about it…”Don’t Bother me” is so George and his attitude at times. I always really liked it…the overall feel of it is cool. It was a very good attempt at his first song.

George Harrison: “I don’t think it’s a particularly good song… It mightn’t even be a song at all, but at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing, and then maybe eventually I would write something good.”

Tom Petty: “I thought it was just the coolest song, like nothing I’d heard in rock,” Petty said in 2014 “I’d say, ‘Well, I like it. A lot. If you did that today, I’d say it was really good.’ And he’d go, ‘Well, you’d be wrong.'”

The Smithereens did a great job covering this song.

From Songfacts

This was George Harrison’s first recorded song. It was his response to critics who claimed he was not an important member of the group because he did not write songs.

A Harrison-penned song would not appear again until the 1965 album Help!. That would be “You Know What To Do.”

This song has a darker, more pessimistic mood that was uncommon of The Beatles main sound, but would come to be Harrison’s trademark stamp. This is actually part of what made the Beatles’ formula work: McCartney was the chirpy, positive one, and Harrison was the melancholic counterpart.

Years later these were sold off at one of the London auction houses. This song in it’s very earliest stages is available on bootleg and features George working the music and lyrics out as he goes along. George stated, “I wrote the song as an exercise to see if I could write a song. I was sick in bed. Maybe that’s why it turned out to be ‘Don’t Bother Me.'” 

For your information, the photography technique for the cover of With The Beatles, in which the Fab Four’s headshots hover in a half-moon, light-and-shadow effect, is called “chiaroscuro.” It’s an Italian word to describe the Renaissance technique of dramatically contrasted lighting effects in oil paintings.

This was the first song on Side 2 of Meet The Beatles, their first album released in the US. With The Beatles was their second UK release.

Don’t Bother Me

Since she’s been gone I want no one to talk to me
It’s not the same but I’m to blame, it’s plain to see

So go away, leave me alone, don’t bother me
I can’t believe that she would leave me on my own
It’s just not right when every night I’m all alone

I’ve got no time for you right now, don’t bother me
I know I’ll never be the same if I don’t get her back again
Because I know she’ll always be the only girl for me

But ’til she’s here please don’t come near, just stay away
I’ll let you know when she’s come home
Until that day
Don’t come around, leave me alone, don’t bother me

I’ve got no time for you right now, don’t bother me
I know I’ll never be the same if I don’t get her back again
Because I know she’ll always be the only girl for me

But ’til she’s here please don’t come near, just stay away
I’ll let you know when she’s come home
Until that day

Don’t come around, leave me alone, don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me

Beach Boys – In My Room

As a teenager, I could relate to this song. Now in this world, we live in now… I can relate to this song even more. I love the harmonies in this song.

Brian Wilson suffered from severe agoraphobia and refused to leave his bedroom for a significant amount of time. He wrote this song to give people an idea of how he felt. The song, like many Beach Boys songs, has beautiful harmonizing. The song was written by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher.

This song was the B side to Be True To Your School released in 1963. The song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100 in 1963.

Brian Wilson: “When Dennis, Carl and I lived in Hawthorne as kids, we all slept in the same room. One night I sang the song ‘Ivory Tower’ to them and they liked it. Then a couple of weeks later, I proceeded to teach them both how to sing the harmony parts to it. It took them a little while, but they finally learned it. We then sang this song night after night. It brought peace to us. When we recorded ‘In My Room,’ there was just Dennis, Carl and me on the first verse… and we sounded just like we did in our bedroom all those nights. This story has more meaning than ever since Dennis’ death.”

From Songfacts

In the 1998 documentary Endless Harmony, Brian Wilson described this song as about being “somewhere where you could lock out the world, go to a secret little place, think, be, do whatever you have to do.”

Charles Manson, who was convicted of orchestrating the murders of six people in 1969, made repeated claims that The Beach Boys stole this song from him. In Manson’s view, he wrote a song called “In My Cell” which was about how he feels peace with himself in his jail cell. Manson did have a connection to The Beach Boys – he knew their drummer Dennis Wilson – and did write and record some songs. His claims have little basis in fact – something that is true of most of his proclamations.

Bill Medley from The Righteous Brothers recorded this with Phil Everly and Brian Wilson for his album Damn Near Righteous, his first new album since the untimely 2003 death of his partner Bobby Hatfield. 

Interesting food for thought: Brian Wilson just might have inadvertently inspired one of the greatest jazz fusion bands, Blood Sweat & Tears, albeit indirectly. Al Kooper relates in Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards that he was sitting in Brian Wilson’s living room while he showed off the Pet Sounds album. He was just leaving The Blues Project and wandering around California in an existential haze wondering what to do next, when while visiting with Brian Wilson, “Deep in the back of my mind was a band that could put dents in your shirt if you got within fifteen rows of the stage…” He explains his idea of having a band with a horn section in it, more than R&B bands but less than Count Basie’s or Buddy Rich’s. “Somewhere in the middle was a mixture of soul, jazz, and rock that was my little fantasy.”

This was released as the B-side of “Be True To Your School.”

Linda Ronstadt and Tammy Wynette both covered this song.

One of the many who found solace in this song is Steve Perry of Journey fame, who told Rolling Stone: “This was an anthem to my teenage isolation. I just wanted to be left alone in my room, where I could find peace of mind and play music.”

In My Room

There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it’s dark and I’m alone
I won’t be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room

J.D. Souther – You’re Only Lonely

This song has always stuck with me. I have a special place for it. J.D. Souther was influenced by the Roy Orbinson song Only The Lonely. This title fits some today in what all of us are going through. You know sometimes when you say “all of us” you mean maybe your state, district, or country…but now it truly means all of us.

J.D. Souther collaborated on many of The Eagles’ hits, including New Kid in Town. J.D. Souther had some talented friends. In the early days of his career, Souther shared an apartment with future Eagles member Glenn Frey in Los Angeles. Downstairs was Jackson Browne. Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt and many others from that scene hung around, too.

“You’re Only Lonely” was originally released in 1979, and was No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. It peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100.

J.D. Souther talks about how Linda Ronstadt gave him good advice: “Very pointedly, she said, ‘Don’t try to rewrite the songs.’ I mean, she encouraged me to do the record because I defer to her advice quite often,” Souther says. “She really has just practically infallible taste in songs. She’s got what jazz players call ‘big ears.’ So I just kind of sat back and approached it as though the songs had been chosen for me by someone else.

From Songfacts

A #1 Adult Contemporary hit for 5 weeks, Souther told us that Roy Orbison, who had a hit with “Only The Lonely,” was a big influence on this song. Said Souther: “I was a little kid when I first heard Roy Orbison, but he was magic. He’s the guy that you turned out the lights and listened to his records by yourself – or with a girl – because he was just completely other-worldly. He had sarcastic and adventurous songs and great arrangements, and then that beautiful, almost operatic voice. Beautiful, natural deep echo on it. He is one of half a dozen or so rockabilly musicians that I really loved. When I was in junior high school was the first time I really started listening to that.

But then I started playing drums all the time, and I got so fascinated with jazz, I didn’t really think much about singing or making rock and roll records for quite a few years. The first song I ever heard called ‘Only the Lonely’ was this song that Frank Sinatra sang. It’s a Johnny Mercer song; it’s on a Sinatra album called Songs for Only the Lonely. There are a lot of songs with that name. But the beat that I used for ‘You’re Only Lonely’ is that rockabilly beat. That sort of break in it was taken from another Roy Orbison record called ‘I’m Hurtin” that I really love.”

When You’re Only Lonely

When the world is ready to fall on your little shoulders
And, when you’re feeling lonely and small,
You need somebody there to hold you;
You can call out my name

When you’re only lonely;
Now, don’t you ever be ashamed;
You’re only lonely.

When you need somebody around on the nights that try you
I was there when you were a queen
And I’ll be the last one there beside you;
So you can call out my name

When you’re only lonely;
Now, don’t you ever be ashamed;
You’re only lonely. (You’re only lonely)
(You’re only lonely) (You’re only lonely)

Ooh, When the world is ready to fall on your little shoulders
And, when you’re feeling lonely and small,
You need somebody there to hold you;
So don’t you ever be ashamed
When you’re only lonely;
You can call out my name

When you’re only lonely; (You’re only lonely)
When you’re only lonely; (You’re only lonely)
Ooh, it’s no crime,
Darlin’, we got lots of time,
Woh, woh, (You’re only lonely)
Woh, woh, woh, (You’re only lonely)
No there’s nothing wrong with you,
Darlin, I get lonely too.
(You’re only lonely)(You’re only lonely)
So, if you need me, (You’re only lonely)
All you’ve gotta do is call me
Well, you’re only lonely
(You’re only lonely)(You’re only lonely)
Ooh, ooh, (You’re only lonely)

White Trash – Golden Slumber/Carry That Weight

White Trash or Trash as they were later called signed with Apple Records and released these Beatles songs from the Beatles then-upcoming Abbey Road album. John Lennon loved it but Paul was upset about the recording…the reason why is below.

I’m critical on Beatle covers because I’m such a fan…but this is pretty good.

This was supposed to be just a demo but it was a finished product. Paul was not happy about the money spent producing it…

When they recorded what was supposed to be a demo of it, Paul was furious: “I
asked for a demo and I’m handed a finished master of a full production
with strings on it and the lot!” Everyone thought the record was dead,
but press officer Derek Taylor grabbed the record and took it to John Lennon.
When it was over, Lennon pointed to one of the speakers and declared,
“That’s a good imitation of us! It’s going out!”

They started out as the Pathfinders, a Scottish group from Glasgow, doing a Goffin-King song called “Road To Nowhere”, which Tony Meehan brought to George Harrison and Paul McCartney who liked it and said “Let’s put it out.” DiLello worked in the Apple Press Office, interviewed the band, and came up with a better name — White Trash. Unfortunately, the record distributors didn’t go for that, so they censored the offensive word “White” and just called the band “Trash”. The band consisted of: Ian Crawford Clews, vocalist, Fraser Watson, lead guitar Colin Hunter-Morrison, Bass, Ronald Leahy, organ, and Timi Donald, percussion

Richard DiLello was the “House Hippie” of Apple Records in the press department and was writing the press biography for the band and was trying to come up with a tag line for them. His choice? “They begin where The Cream leave off!” Apple’s press officer  Derek Taylor said a big fat NO. A bit later, Richard came up with an alternate: “They Leave Off where the Cream BEGAN?”

In 1969, White Trash hooked up with singer Marsha Hunt and went on
tour. When she ripped her vocal cords one night, a long rest was recommended for her, and by mid-September The White Trash found themselves rehearsing to perfection their version of Golden Slumbers from the Beatles’ “Abbey Road”.

To any Beatle fan, I would recommend the Richard DiLello book The Longest Cocktail Party. It’s informative and hilarious.

The Longest Cocktail Party.jpg

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight

Once there was a way
To get back homeward

Once there was a way
To get back home

Sleep, pretty darling
Do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Golden slumbers
Fill your eyes
Smiles await you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling
Do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Once there was a way
To get back homeward

Once there was a way
To get back home

Sleep, pretty darling
Do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Carry That Weight

Boy, you gotta carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitation
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down

Boy, you gotta carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you gotta carry that weight
You’re gonna carry that weight along time

 

Paul McCartney in Nashville 1974

Back in the early seventies, there was a line between rock and country. Now that line is blurred quite a bit but when Paul came to Nashville…it was a huge deal here. Some country artists wondered why a Beatle was coming here.

I’ve written some here but I don’t do it justice… His month stay involved an emergency room visit, a visit to Johnny Cash, Loveless Motel (great place to eat), and many other places. Please read this.. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/article/13007056/when-we-was-fab

People here still talk about this visit to the city. I was only 7 and it was one year before I got into the Beatles. I faintly remember the newscasts. On June 6, 1974, Paul arrived and said he chose Nashville for his month’s stay as a rehearsal base for an upcoming tour. He also planned to enjoy himself while here, socializing with the community and horseback riding.

Paul said: “I rather fancy the place,”  “It’s a musical center. I’ve just heard so much about it that I wanted to see for myself.”

He recorded songs, went to the Grand Ole Opry, met Porter Waggner and Dolly Parton, ate some Kentucky Fried Chicken, and visited Printers Alley. Paul and Linda lived on a farm in Lebanon that  Curly Putman Jr rented…that is where the title Juniors Farm came from. Putman was a songwriter who wrote some huge songs like The Green Green Grass of Home, He Stopped Loving Her Today, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, and many more.

I have a cousin that lives down the road from the farm Paul and Linda stayed at…he got this shot but it’s a little dark. They added some columns since 1974.IMG_2102.PNG

Former Beatle Paul McCartney takes his wife, Linda, for a spin around the lawn of the home of songwriter Curly Putman July 17, 1974, where the McCartneys have been living during their visit to Nashville.

As his time in Tennessee came to a close, McCartney told a group of local reporters that he hoped to mount a U.S. tour the following year and that if it happened, Music City would definitely be on the itinerary.

McCartney didn’t come back until 36 years later in 2010 and I finally got to see him.

Paul McCartney's Nashville past

 

 

 

 

 

Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)

I thought I would continue the theme that many of us are going through. Hopefully, we have our family around to be alone with…or if you are by yourself do something that makes you happy….but don’t linger on this song long…it is damn depressing.

I remember this mostly in the eighties when I worked at a printing place and listened to the oldies channel…99.6 in Nashville.

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, #2 in New Zealand, and #3 in the UK in 1972.

I do respect Gilbert for this quote: ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’ has no comic purpose at all, and it is not a song that people can dismiss like ‘Get Down’ or ‘Clair.’ Because it means so much to some people, I will not allow it to be used for karaoke or commercials.”

Again thanks to Roger of Musical Musings of a Mangled Mind for recommending this one.

From Songfacts

One of the most depressing songs ever written, “Alone Again (Naturally)” tells a rather sad tale of a lonely, suicidal man being left at the altar and then telling the listener about the death of his parents. The song connected with listeners on various levels: the downtrodden could commiserate with the singer, and the lucky ones who were not in this position were reminded of their good fortune.

This was Irish-born singer Gilbert O’Sullivan’s only American #1. It sold 2 million copies, spent six weeks at the summit in America and earned him three Grammy Award nominations (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year). It was the second best-selling single of the year in America behind Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

Gilbert O’Sullivan has denied that this song is autobiographical or about the death of his father when he was 11. O’Sullivan said: “Everyone wants to know if it’s an autobiographical song, based on my father’s early death. Well, the fact of the matter is, I didn’t know my father very well, and he wasn’t a good father anyway. He didn’t treat my mother very well.”

O’Sullivan charted in UK with “Nothing Rhymed” from his first album, but didn’t make in impact in America until “Alone Again (Naturally)” was released as the first single from his second album. In the first half of the ’70s, O’Sullivan enjoyed a succession of hits in the UK, including two #1s that show his considerable range as a songwriter. The first was “Clair,” inspired by Clair Mills, the 3-year-old daughter of his manager Gordon Mills, whom O’Sullivan baby-sat. The second was “Get Down,” which shows off his soulful side. O’Sullivan was the first Irish-born recording artist with two UK #1 hits.

In a Songfacts interview with O’Sullivan, he explained how this song came together. “‘Alone Again’ was written with two other songs in a writing period when I was 22 years of age. I had been a postal clerk in London, so I was only able to write after work in the evening. When Gordon Mills managed me – he managed Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck – when he took me on, he allowed me to quit my job and move into a bungalow that he owned where I could write every day. So, therefore, I was in a writing mode, and ‘Alone Again’ was just one of the songs I’d written. I was really pleased with it, happy with it, but I didn’t see it as being any more special than other songs. Suffice it to say, I was happy.”

The guitar solo was performed by Big Jim Sullivan, one of the most prolific session guitarists in the UK. He used a guitar with nylon strings to get the distinctive sound.

At the end of the 1980s this was used as the opening theme song and “Get Down” the closing theme song of Masion Ikkoku, a Japanese animated series. They were used without authorization, which caused some controversy at the time. However the net result was that a new Japanese generation discovered Gilbert’s music and his popularity grew in Japan. Some of his 1990s albums have only been released in Japan, where he has continued to enjoy some success.

In 1982 O’Sullivan took his former manager Gordon Mills to court over his original contract, ultimately winning back the master tapes to his recordings as well as the copyrights to his songs. Nine years later in 1991, O’Sullivan went to court again to sue the rapper Biz Markie, who used an unauthorized sample from this song in his track “Alone Again,” which appeared on Markie’s third album, I Need A Haircut. The judge made a landmark ruling in O’Sullivan’s favor that the rapper’s unauthorized sample was in fact theft. From this point on, artists had to clear samples or be subject to costly lawsuits.

O’Sullivan talked about the case in 2010 at a screening for the movie Out On His Own: Gilbert O’Sullivan. He said Biz Markie’s record company approached him about sampling the song, and O’Sullivan asked to hear it before granting permission. “Then we discovered that he was a comic rapper,” said Gilbert. “And the one thing I am very guarded about is protecting songs and in particular I’ll go to my grave in defending the song to make sure it is never used in the comic scenario which is offensive to those people who bought it for the right reasons. And so therefore we refused. But being the kind of people that they were, they decided to use it anyway so we had to go to court.”

O’Sullivan won’t let this song be used in commercials, but he often authorizes it for movies and TV shows, which typically use it for comic effect. Movies to use it include:

Gloria Bell (2018)
Napoleon Dynamite (2012)
Skylab (2011)
Megamind (2010)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
Stuart Little 2 (2002)
Osmosis Jones (2001)
The Virgin Suicides (1999)

And in these TV shows:

The Simpsons (“The Wettest Stories Ever Told” – 2006)
Ally McBeal (“Alone Again” – 1998)

O’Sullivan had an unusual image in the early ’70s, performing in an outfit of pants and a flat cap. With his pudding-bowl haircut, he resembled a Depression-era street urchin. Around the time of the release of “Alone Again (Naturally),” he switched his outfit in favor of an endless series of collegiate-styled sweaters embossed with the letter “G.”

Sugar Ray borrowed the line “my mother, god rest her soul” for their 1997 hit “Fly.”

At least 100 artists have covered this song, including Anita Bryant, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey and Neil Diamond. Pet Shop Boys did a version with Elton John, and Diana Krall and Michael Bublé recorded it together for Krall’s 2015 album Wallflower.

Alone Again (Naturally)

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to
Make it clear to whoever
Wants to know what it’s like When you’re shattered

Left standing in the lurch at a church
Were people saying, My God, that’s tough
She stood him up
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally
To think that only yesterday

I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to who wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about, God in His mercy

Oh, if he really does exist
Why did he desert me
In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally
It seems to me that
There are more hearts broken in the world
That can’t be mended

Left unattended
What do we do
What do we do
Alone again, naturally
Looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears

And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start
With a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me

No words were ever
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

I always liked this song. It is defiant and cocky and in times like these, we need it.

Before recording Full Moon Fever, an arsonist burned down Tom Petty’s house while he was in it with his family and their housekeeper. They escaped and spent much of the next few months driving between hotel rooms and a rented house, but Petty was badly shaken.

It was on these drives that he came up with many of the songs for the album, and the fire was a huge influence, especially on this song. Petty felt grateful to be alive, but also traumatized – understandable he could have been killed. According to a report, an arsonist had drenched the house’s back staircase in lighter fluid. Petty and his family was deeply disturbed by the fact that someone had wanted to kill them. The case remains unsolved.

The song was on Full Moon Fever which I bought as soon as it was released. The song peaked at #12 in 1989 in the Billboard 100. Full Moon Fever peaked at #3 in the Billboard Album Charts that same year. The song was written by Petty and producer Jeff Lynne.

Tom Petty: “At the session George Harrison sang and played the guitar. I had a terrible cold that day, and George sent to the store and bought a ginger root, boiled it and had me stick my head in the pot to get the ginger steam to open up my sinuses, and then I ran in and did the take.”

I remember loving the video to this song. George Harrison and Ringo appear and guitar player Mike Campbell plays George’s guitar “Rocky” for the solo.

Songfacts

“I Won’t Back Down” was his way of reclaiming his life and getting past the torment – he said that writing and recording the song had a calming effect on him.

The arsonist was never caught, which made Petty’s plight even more challenging. As for motive, there was no direct connection made, but 11 days earlier, Petty won a lawsuit against the B.F. Goodrich tire company for $1 million. Goodrich wanted to use Petty’s song “Mary’s New Car” in a TV commercial, and when he wouldn’t let them, their advertising agency commissioned a copycat song that the judge felt was too similar.

This was the first single from Full Moon Fever, which was produced and co-written by Jeff Lynne. Petty and Lynne worked on the album at Mike Campbell’s house. As guitarist for the Heartbreakers, Mike has written and produced many songs with Petty.

He told us what happened when they brought the album to MCA Records: “We thought it was really good, we were real excited about it. We played it for the record company and they said, ‘Well, we don’t hear any hits on here.’ We were very despondent about the whole thing and we went back and recorded another track, a Byrds song called ‘I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better,’ thinking at the time that maybe they’ll like this one. In the interim, they changed A&R departments and a whole new group of people were in there. We brought the same record back like six months later and they loved it – they said ‘Oh, there’s three hits on here.’ We were vindicated on that one. It was the same record. We played the same thing for them and they went for it. I guess it’s a situation of timing and the right people that wanted to get inspired about it. At the end of the line, if the songs are good and if the public connects with certain songs, that really is the true test, but you’ve got to get it out there.” (Read more in our interview with Mike Campbell.)

This was Petty’s first single without the Heartbreakers credited as his backing band. Members of the band did play on the album.

The video, directed by David Leland, features Ringo Starr on drums, with George Harrison and Jeff Lynne on guitar. Harrison did play on the track and contributed backing vocals, but Ringo had nothing to do with the song itself – a session musician named Phil Jones played drums on the Full Moon Fever album.

In some shots, Mike Campbell is playing George Harrison’s Stratocaster guitar, which he called “Rocky.” It was Harrison’s suggestion for Campbell to play it.

Around this time, Petty was active in the group The Traveling Wilburys with Lynne, Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison.

This is perhaps Tom Petty’s most personal song. In a 2006 interview with Harp, he said, “That song frightened me when I wrote it. I didn’t embrace it at all. It’s so obvious. I thought it wasn’t that good because it was so naked. So I had a lot of second thoughts about recording that song. But everyone around me liked the song and said it was really good and it turns out everyone was right – more people connect to that song than anything I ever wrote. I’ve had so many people tell me that it helped them through this or it helped them through that. I’m still continually amazed about the power a little 3-minute song has.”

Many fans have felt a connection with this song. “The one that most strangers come up and tell me about is ‘I Won’t Back Down,'” Petty told Mojo. “So many people tell me it meant something in their lives.”

Petty played this on September 21, 2001 as part of a telethon to benefit the victims of the terrorist attacks on America. Celebrities at the event included Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Cruise. Almost 60 million people watched the special in the US.

In response to this being used as a patriotic anthem after September 11th, Petty said: “The song has also been adopted by nice people for good things, too. I just write them, I can’t control where it ends up.”

This was one of four songs Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played at the halftime show of the Super Bowl in 2008. The others were “American Girl,” “Runnin’ Down A Dream” and “Free Fallin’.”

Tom Petty died on October 2, 2017, the day after a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas that killed 58. On October 7, Jason Aldean, who was on stage during the shooting, opened Saturday Night Live with a performance of this song, which served as both a tribute to Petty and a call for togetherness. “When America is at its best, our bond and our spirit is unbreakable,” he said before playing it.

When the shooting took place, Aldean was performing “When She Says Baby,” which was inspired by Petty’s “Here Comes My Girl.”

I Won’t Back Down

Well, I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

No I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground

And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground
And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
(I won’t back down)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
No I won’t back down