Tom Petty – Feel a Whole Lot Better ….Under The Covers Week

I hope you enjoy this Byrds cover by Tom Petty. One of the best B-side songs I can think of.

I posted The Waiting not long ago and talked about the similarities between The Byrds and Tom Petty. This Byrds song fits Tom Petty perfectly but the original song was not sung by McGuinn but by its writer…Gene Clark. Clark wrote this song in the mid-sixties when a girl he was seeing started to bother him. He also co-wrote Eight Miles High.

Although the song was the B side to The Byrd’s song All I Realy Want To Do, it gained a lot of promotion from Columbia Records and a lot of radio air time. It also became a classic rock standard, with dozens of artists giving their versions of the song.

This song was on Tom Petty’s solo album Full Moon Fever in 1989. The original name of the album was Songs From the Garage. It would have been an appropriate name for it. They worked on this album mostly in Heartbreaker Mike Campbell’s garage. This album caused a riff in The Heartbreakers. The other members thought Tom was going to leave the band. He kept reassuring them but they were not sure.

What’s unbelievable about it is, MCA rejected the album because they didn’t hear a single. This album would have 5 singles released from it.

Tom was absolutely stunned and depressed. He went back and added Feel A Whole Lot Better and the song Alright For Now and presented MCA with basically the same album again. There had been a regime change at MCA and this time they loved it. Ah…record companies…sometimes they are the spawn of Satan.

Although the album was released in 1989…Petty recorded it back in 1987 and 1988. MCA caused much of the delay when they rejected it.

Gene Clark of the Byrds: “There was a girlfriend I had known at the time, when we were playing at Ciro’s. It was a weird time in my life because everything was changing so fast and I knew we were becoming popular. This girl was a funny girl, she was kind of a strange little girl and she started bothering me a lot. And I just wrote the song, ‘I’m gonna feel a whole lot better when you’re gone,’ and that’s all it was, but I wrote the whole song within a few minutes.”

Tom Petty: “I didn’t see much of the Heartbreakers during that period, Mike I kept in touch with, of course, because he was working on Full Moon Fever with me. I never thought of leaving. And I kept reassuring them that I wasn’t going to leave. But I think there was some doubt in their mind.”

Feel A Whole Lot Better

The reason why, oh, I can’t say
I had to let you go, baby, and right away
After what you did, I can’t stay on
And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone

Baby, for a long time, you had me believe
That your love was all mine and that’s the way it would be
But I didn’t know that you were putting me on
And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone

Now I gotta say that it’s not like before
And I’m not gonna play your games any more
After what you did, I can’t stay on
And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone

Yeah, I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone


Tom Petty – Love Is A Long Road … Full Moon Fever Week

This wraps up Full Moon Fever for the week. I hope you enjoyed it. I didn’t cover every song but we did get to quite a few. The other posts on this album are at the bottom.

This song I don’t hear much more…Love Is A Long Road is a song that I had forgotten about which got some airplay back in 1989.

This is one of the many songs that charted from Full Moon Fever. This song peaked at #7 in the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1989. Tom Petty and Mike Campbell wrote this song. This was the 5th single released from the album. Dave from “Have A Sound Day”  has a good post about this album.

How did Jeff Lynne meet Tom Petty about producing Full Moon Fever? Jeff said he was on Sunset Boulevard and saw Tom… Here is what Jeff said: “He beeped his horn and I kept thinking, ‘Who’s that?’”  “And it was Tom. ‘Hi, Tom!’ He said, ‘Pull over – I wanna have a word with you.’ He’d just been listening to George [Harrison’s album, Cloud Nine, which I’d just worked on, co-produced it, and he really liked it. He said, ‘Do you fancy writing some songs together?’ I said, ‘I sure do.’”

Free Fallin’

I Won’t Back Down

Runnin’ Down A Dream

Yer So Bad

The Apartment Song

Love Is A Long Road

There was a girl I knew
She said she cared about me
She tried to make my world
The way she thought it should be
Yeah we were desperate then
To have each other to hold
But love is a long, long road

There were so many times
I would wake up at noon
With my head spinning ’round
I would wait for the moon
And give her one more chance
To try and save my soul
But love is a long, long road

Yeah it was hard to give up
Some things are hard to let go
Some things are never enough
I guess I only can hope
For maybe one more chance
To try and save my soul
But love is a long, long road

Tom Petty – The Apartment Song … Full Moon Fever Week

Tom Petty had written this song for Southern Accents, and it had in the vault for that time. They were going through songs really fast, and Jeff Lynne asked, ‘Have you got anything laying around?’ Tom brought this song out of the closet. He had cut a demo with Stevie Nicks (video at the bottom), just the two of them. That was the only thing Tom had, just that demo. Jeff made it into a Buddy Holly Style record.

The song added to the texture of Full Moon Fever. It is a fun song along with Yer So Bad.

Jeff Lynne on Tom Petty: “I always liked Tom,”  “I always loved his style, and he’s so American. It’s a great thing for an English person to actually work with a real Southern American… they’ve got the best voices. George always said, ‘It’s like they’ve got a head start over English people because they already have a twang.’ They’ve just got this lovely-sounding voice.”

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks on the Demo

The Apartment Song

I used to live in a two-room apartment
Neighbors knockin’ on my wall
Times were hard, I don’t wanna knock it
I don’t miss it much at all

Oh yeah I’m alright I just feel a
Little lonely tonight
I’m okay, most of the time
I just feel a little lonely tonight

I used to need your love so badly
Then I came to live with it
Lately I get a faraway feeling
And the whole thing starts again


Tom Petty – Yer So Bad … Full Moon Fever Week

My sister got lucky, married a yuppie
Took him for all he was worth

As soon as I heard those two lines I knew I was going to like the song.

Tom Petty had gotten to know Lynne through George Harrison, who brought the Electric Light Orchestra leader to produce Harrison’s 1987 comeback LP Cloud Nine. That led to the three artists taking part in the Traveling Wilburys supergroup. One day, Petty played “Yer So Bad”; he had all the words down but was stuck on the music for the chorus.

“Jeff showed me this little part,” Petty recalled. “E minor to C, and said, ‘You could do this.’ And I said, ‘That’s great!’ And I was so elated, because I had been working on the song for days, and I couldn’t get from the verse to the chorus somehow. And he showed me this little bit, and I said, ‘Great! Will you produce this?'”

Petty wanted Howie Epstein (bass player for the Heartbreakers) to help on the harmonies but Howie said he didn’t like the song so Petty told him he didn’t need him then. That is when he knew it was going to be a solo album.

This was the last fifth single released from the album. Yer So Bad peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Rock Tracks and #44 in Canada in 1990.

Yer So Bad

My sister got lucky, married a yuppie
Took him for all he was worth
Now she’s a swinger dating a singer
I can’t decide which is worse[Chorus:]
But not me baby, I’ve got you to save me
Oh yer so bad, best thing I ever had
In a world gone mad, yer so badMy sister’s ex-husband can’t get no lovin’
Walks around dog-faced and hurt
Now he’s got nothin’, head in the oven
I can’t decide which is worse


Tom Petty – Running Down a Dream … Full Moon Fever Week

When I bought Full Moon Fever in 1989 I was happy with my first pass through the album. The album doesn’t have seven hits like Born In The USA but it doesn’t have a bad track on it.

Tom Petty started running down his dream of being a rocker in 1961 when he met Elvis Presley. Petty, 11 years old, came to the Ocala, Florida set where Elvis was working on the film Follow That Dream – a title Tom took to heart. In a brief encounter, Petty saw how Elvis captivated onlookers and made the girls go crazy. Petty became fascinated with Elvis and set out to follow his path.

This song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100, #23 in Canada, and #55 in the UK in 1989.

Those noises were made by Shannon and Jeff Lynne; Petty used them as an interlude to mark the middle of the album because you don’t have to flip over a CD. This section was included only on CD versions of Full Moon Fever but survived the transition when the album was released digitally….I have this at the bottom

From Songfacts

In this song, Petty sings about driving into the great wide open, with nothing but glorious possibility in his path.

The animated video was inspired by a comic strip called Little Nemo In Slumberland by Winsor McKay. Each strip told the story of one of Nemo’s dreams, and at the end, he always woke up.

Full Moon Fever was listed as a Tom Petty solo album even though members of The Heartbreakers played on it. Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne also played on it.

Heartbreakers’ guitarist Mike Campbell wrote this with Petty and Jeff Lynne. The three of them worked on the album at Campbell’s house. Petty and Campbell were very impressed with Lynne’s production techniques, and learned a lot from the experience. Campbell gave us an example of Lynne’s style: “We’d put the mics up on the drums, and he’d walk out and take the microphone over the drum and he’d turn it away from the drum facing the corner, and he’d go ‘OK, record it like that.’ Sure enough, 99% of the time he’d be right. We’d go, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Lynne.’ We learned so much from him about arrangements and countermelodies and all kinds of stuff.” (Check out our interview with Mike Campbell.)

The line, “Me and Del were singin,’ little ‘Runaway'” is a reference to the 1961 Del Shannon hit “Runaway.” Shannon is credited on the album for “barnyard noises,” which can be heard just after this song ends on the album. Under the animal noises, Petty says, “Hello CD listeners. We have come to the point in this album where those listening on cassettes or records will have to stand – up or sit down – and turn over the record or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we will now take a few seconds before we begin Side 2. Thank you, and here is Side 2.”

In 2007, the documentary Runnin’ Down A Dream was released. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the film chronicles the career of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. >>

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played this at the halftime show of the Super Bowl in 2008. Rather than the usual medley of hits, the band played four full songs, the others being “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’.”

Hello CD Listeners

Runnin’ Down A Dream

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway
I was flyin’

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I felt so good like anything was possible
I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
The last three days the rain was unstoppable
It was always cold, no sunshine

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I rolled on as the sky grew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

Tom Petty – Free Fallin’ … Full Moon Fever Week

I’m including at least one song off of Tom’s album Full Moon Fever every day this week…So if you don’t know the album stay tuned, if like the album stay tuned,and if you don’t like the album…sorry. It was a great album released in 1989 that was arguably the peak of Tom’s career.

Full Moon Fever

Tom was not happy with the last Heartbreakers album (Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) released in 1987 and wanted a change. Mike Campbell (Heartbreakers guitar player): “Tom called me up and said, ‘We’re done. I think we’re done.” He called back later and said that at least temporarily he wasn’t going to work with the Heartbreakers.

He ended up using Belmont Tench and Howie Epstein from the Heartbreakers for a few songs but it was Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Mike Campbell and Phil Jones on drums who made the album. They did have some help from George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Del Shannon among others.

Released in 1989, Full Moon Fever would become Petty’s greatest commercial success. During its creation Jeff Lynne helped inspire him to create some of his best and most popular songs. But along the way he also risked further alienating several members of the Heartbreakers.

Free Fallin’

Free Fallin’ may be the song he is most remembered. Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne wrote and recorded “Free Fallin'” in just two days, the first song completed for Full Moon Fever. “We had a multitude of acoustic guitars,” Petty told Rolling Stone of the song’s Byrds-y feel. “So it made this incredibly dreamy sound.”

The song peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, #4 in New Zealand, and #59 in the UK in 1989.

Tom Petty: “There’s not a day that goes by that someone doesn’t hum ‘Free Fallin” to me or I don’t hear it somewhere,”  “But it was really only 30 minutes of my life.”

From Songfacts

Mike Campbell is The Heartbreakers’ guitarist. He has also produced and written the music for many of their songs, as well as “The Boys of Summer” and “The Heart Of The Matter” for Don Henley. Mike told us about working with Jeff Lynne: “When we did that first record with Jeff Lynne, Full Moon Fever, that was an amazing time for me because it was mostly just the three of us – me and Tom and Jeff – working at my house. Jeff Lynne is an amazing record-maker. It was so exciting for a lot of reasons. First of all, our band energy in the studio had gotten into kind of a rut, we were having some issues with our drummer and just kind of at the end of our rope in terms of inspiration – having a lot of trouble cutting tracks in the studio.

This project came along and really we were just doing it for fun at the beginning, but Jeff would come in and every day he would blow my mind. It was so exciting to have him and Tom come over and go, ‘OK, here’s this song,’ and then Jeff would just go. I’d never seen this done before, he’d say, ‘OK, here’s what we’re going to do: Put a drum machine down. Now put up a mic, we’re going to do some acoustic guitars. Put up another mic, were going to do a keyboard. OK, here’s an idea for the bass. Mike, let’s try some guitar on this. I’ve got an idea for a background part here…’

Sure enough, within five or six hours, the record would be done, and we’d just sit back and go, ‘How the f-ck did you do that?’ We were used to being in the studio and like ‘OK, here’s how the song goes’ and everybody would set up to play and just laboriously run the song into the ground, and it usually got worse and worse from trying to get the groove and the spirit and trying to get a performance out of five guys at once. This guy walked in and he knew exactly how to put the pieces together, and he always had little tricks, like with the background vocals how he would slide them in and layer them, and little melodies here and there. Tom and I were soaking it up. Pretty amazing, a very exciting time, like going to musical college or something.” (Read more in our interview with Mike Campbell.)

In a 2006 interview with Esquire magazine, Petty said: “‘Free Fallin” is a very good song. Maybe it would be one of my favorites if it hadn’t become this huge anthem. But I’m grateful that people like it.”

The lyrics deal with Los Angeles culture, mentioning actual places in the area: Reseda, Mulholland and Ventura Boulevard. It implies that the people of LA will casually use others for personal gain, as the singer has just dumped a girl and doesn’t even miss her. Petty was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida and moved to LA with The Heartbreakers in 1974. His outsider perspective came in handy in this song.

Directed by Julien Temple, the music video was ahead of its time in that it featured skateboarding before the X Games existed and action sports went mainstream. Legendary skater Mark “Gator” Rogowski appears in the video.

Petty considers this song a ballad; it’s one of his few hits without a guitar solo. There are plenty of ballads on his albums, but his record companies rarely released them as singles.

Petty and the Heartbreakers played this to close out their set at the halftime show of the Super Bowl in 2008. The song turned out to be appropriate for the New England Patriots, who were undefeated going into the game and led at halftime, only to lose at the end to the New York Giants. In 2002, when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, the featured song at halftime was “Beautiful Day” by U2.

A live version by John Mayer returned this song to the US Hot 100 in July 2008, going to #51.

Petty performed this song, along with “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” with The Heartbreakers on Saturday Night Live when they were the musical guests on May 20, 1989. Their record company, MCA, wanted them to play “I Won’t Back Down,” which was out as a single and climbing the charts, but Petty defied them.

Petty often tells a story about performing this song at a pivotal night in his career. His label, MCA, rejected the Full Moon Fever album when he submitted it in 1988, claiming they didn’t hear a hit. Crestfallen, he went to a dinner party with George Harrison and Jeff Lynne at the home of Mo Ostin, head of Warner Bros. Records. Harrison had them break out the guitars and play “Free Fallin’,” which everyone thought was great. When Petty explained that it wasn’t good enough for his label, Ostin offered to sign him and put it out. They did the deal, but kept it secret until Petty fulfilled his commitment to MCA. Ostin didn’t have to put it out though: In 1989, management changed at MCA; the new regime liked Full Moon Fever and released it.

While MCA kept him in limbo, Petty teamed up with Lynne, Harrison, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan to form the Traveling Wilburys, a fruitful and highly acclaimed collaboration that sold over 3 million copies of their first album.

The song achieved its highest position on the UK singles chart in May 2012 after being covered by contestant Max Milner on the music talent show The Voice. It previously peaked at #64 in 1989.

Here’s what Tom Petty said about this song on his VH1 Storytellers appearance:

“‘I used to ride down Mulholland Drive and make up songs. Some of the songs were good, and some of the songs just wouldn’t swing. I had this one: [sings] ‘Mulholland Drive’ and I never could get anywhere with that song. So, I sat down one day with my friend Jeff Lynne and we were playing around on the keyboard. I hit this lick and he said, ‘That’s a good lick you got there,’ and I played it again. So, just to make him laugh I started to make up words:

She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, crazy about Elvis…

And he goes, ‘Good.’

I said, ‘What? What was good?’

‘It’s all good, just sing that.'”

The girl in the music video is Devon Kidd (born Devon Renee Jenkin). She also had roles in Enemy Of The State, Slammer Girls and Slumber Party Massacre III.

She was a gymnast and model when she got the call to audition for “Free Fallin’.”

“I don’t know if you want to do it,” her agent said. “It’s a small job.”

She knew Tom Petty and “Free Fallin'” and jumped at the opportunity. Today, it’s probably the role she’s best known for.

Free Fallin’

She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It’s a long day living in Reseda
There’s a freeway runnin’ through the yard
And I’m a bad boy ’cause I don’t even miss her
I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’

All the vampires walkin’ through the valley
Move west down Ventura boulevard
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
All the good girls are home with broken hearts

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’
Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m
Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m

I want to glide down over Mulholland
I want to write her name in the sky
Gonna free fall out into nothin’
Gonna leave this world for a while

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’