Tom Petty – Don’t Do Me Like That

This song was on the great Damn the Torpedos album that was Petty’s breakthrough album. Petty wrote this after his first group Mudcrutch moved from Florida to Los Angeles in 1974.

Tom Petty was going to give the song to The J. Geils Band because he thought it had their sound. (Petty and the Heartbreakers had opened for the J. Geils Band on tour). However, J. Geils turned him down as they were already deep in the mixing process for their album and producer Jimmy Iovine persuaded Petty and his bandmates to record it themselves.

They were glad as it became the group’s first Top 10 hit.

The song peaked at #10 in Billboard 100, #3 in Canada, and #17 in New Zealand in 1977.

The album had 4 known radio songs on the album. Damn the Torpedos peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, and #57 in the UK in 1980.

Peter Wolf of the J Geils Band: It was in the midst of stuff. Maybe we thought we had the songs for our album: “We can do it for the next one.” I called up Jimmy and, I think, Tom and said, “Love the song. I’m not sure we’re gonna get to it. But I do like the song.” Tom wasn’t sure of it for himself for some reason. It was almost like, “As soon as I finished writing it, I thought of sending it to you.”

I always heard it as having a Lennon-esque quality, especially in the bridge – just the way Tom puts the edge on his voice. There is also a Dylan-esque quality [in the lyrics]: “Well, you’re gonna get yours. In the public eye, you’re gonna humiliate me? Baby, your time is gonna come.” That was a theme in Lennon’s work too – [the Beatles’] “No Reply.” But the way Tom recorded it, it just became so Tom. I always felt, “Man, I wish we’d jumped on it sooner.”

It’s funny – it came up in our last conversation. Tom and I were together in his dressing room in Philadelphia last July. I said, “Tom, I gotta tell you, ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ …” And he goes, “Oh, yeah! Whatever happened?” I explained the whole thing – we were in the mix process or something. And he said, “I gotta thank you for that. When you didn’t end up doing it, everybody talked me into putting it on the record. And it became one of my big, big hits.” 

From Songfacts

The song finds him warning (or at least asking) a girl not to dump him, as he has a friend who recently had his heart broken. Not one of the group’s more meaningful songs, Creem magazine called it a “throwaway romp.”

Many listeners enjoyed this romp, making it one of Petty’s most popular songs.

When Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers made their first appearance as musical guests on Saturday Night Live November 10, 1979, they played “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

Don’t Do Me Like That

I was talking with a friend of mine
Said a woman had hurt his pride
Told him that she loved him so
And turned around and let him go
Then he said, you better watch your step
Or your gonna get hurt yourself
Someone’s gonna tell you lies
Cut you down to size

Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
What if I love you baby?
Don’t do me like that

Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
Someday I might need you baby
Don’t do me like that

Listen honey, can you see?
Baby, you would bury me
If you were in the public eye
Givin’ someone else a try
And you know you better watch your step
Or you’re gonna get hurt yourself
Someone’s gonna tell you lies
Cut you down to size

Don ‘t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
What if I love you baby?
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t

Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
What if I need you baby?
Don’t do me like that

‘Cause somewhere deep down inside
Someone is saying, Love doesn’t last that long
I got this feelin’ inside night and day
And now I can’t take it no more

Listen honey, can you see?
Baby, you would bury me
If you were in the public eye
Givin’ someone else a try
And you know you better watch your step
Or you’re gonna get hurt yourself
Someone’s gonna tell you lies
Cut you down to size

Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
What if I love you baby?
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t

Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
I just might need you honey
Don’t do me like that

Wait
Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
Baby, baby, baby
Don’t, don’t, don’t

No
Don’t do me like that
Don’t do me like that
Baby, baby, baby

Oh, oh, oh, oh