George Harrison – Wreck Of The Hesperus

I bought George Harrison’s Cloud Nine when it was released in 1987. I took it and recorded it on cassette to play in my car (sorry George). I always liked this breezy song.

I played it constantly. I started to notice a change was happening…classic rock was coming back old and new.  In the 2 years that followed a great string of albums was released. The Traveling Wilburys, Keith Richards Talk Is Cheap, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, Jeff Lynne’s Armchair Theatre, Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl,  and then another Traveling Wilburys. The older guys were back in the game again.

There is not a bad song on Cloud Nine. The one I played the less was ironically the biggest hit on the album…Got My Mind Set On You. Personally, I thought this album was his best since All Things Must Pass. The reviews at the time agree with that.

This song is about what I talked about in the first paragraph. George was poking fun at himself as a dinosaur rocker although he was only 45…that’s young in today’s world. The first verse says it all…

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like the Wall of ChinaGetting old as MethuselahFeel tall as the Eiffel TowerI’m not a power of attorneyBut I can rock as good as GibraltarAin’t no more no spring chickenBeen plucked but I’m still kickingBut it’s alright, it’s alright

The title came from an 1842 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem of the same name that combined fact with fiction. Procol Harum also had a song on their 1969 Salty Dog album called The Wreck of the Hesperus but no relation to this one.

The Cloud Nine album peaked at #8 on the Billboard Album Charts, #6 in Canada, and #10 in the UK in 1987. This song was not released as a single. The best-known songs off of the album were Got My Mind Set On You and When We Was Fab. The album was produced by Jeff Lynne with guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr to name a few.

When I would buy albums I would explore every song good or bad. Many times I found songs I liked more than the singles that were pulled from it. This song did make me hunt down Bill Big Broonzy in the 80s…which wasn’t that easy but I did get my hands on some of his music and liked it…great blues player.

It’s funny how when you first hear something and what you think the lyrics are. I’ve been hearing them wrong since 1987.

What I thought I heard…

I slipped on the pavement “with no ice there” and Met a snake “carrying lanterns”

No on both accounts…

I slipped on a pavement oysterMet a snake climbing ladders

George Harrison: The song, it just came to me with this lyric. I don’t know. Maybe I was thinking from the point of view that people tend to think of you as somebody who’s passe, been and done. And it was just a sort of tongue-in-cheek kind of thing that… This was an old poem, but I was brought up [in] that period they sang, you know, the little catch thing they always said, you know, ‘you look like the wreck of the Hesperus.’ I never really knew what it was, I suppose, but it sounded good, kinda like some awful wreck. It was a shipwreck and a poem, an old Victorian poem. Anyway, that line just came to me and I just continued the lyric from there. [It’s] sort of [a] strange lyric. [Eiffel Tower] and rock as good as Gibralter, you know, it just gets silly. By end of it, I’m saying I’m not the wreck of the Hesperus, more like Big Bill Broonzy. You know, I don’t know. That to me is… I mean, as far back as I can remember [there was] Big Bill Broonzy with this big ol’ guitar playing. It was pretty groovy. I suppose now, it’s like that really. All of us are turning into– like Eric Clapton and such– I keep telling my boy, when you get older, he’s gonna be like, ‘that was Big Bill Broonzy, man, hanging around at our house!’ We’re all getting old as my mother.

George Harrison: “I’ve been friends with Eric for years. And I think I always will be. He’s a lovely fella and I love him very dearly. And he, [sic] and I called him up again and you know I’m doing an album, Eric could you come and play. Sure, he came over and played great stuff. Devil’s Radio, Cloud Nine [sic], he does a nice little solo on the end of That’s What It Takes and also the other one the second side The Wreck Of The Hesperus

The Wreck of the Hesperus

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like the Wall of ChinaGetting old as MethuselahFeel tall as the Eiffel TowerI’m not a power of attorneyBut I can rock as good as GibraltarAin’t no more no spring chickenBeen plucked but I’m still kickingBut it’s alright, it’s alright

Poison penmen sneak, have no nerve to speakMake up lies then they leak ‘m outBehind a pseudonym, the rottenness in themReaching out trying to touch me

Met some Oscars and TonysI slipped on a pavement oysterMet a snake climbing laddersGot out of the line of fire(But it’s alright)

Brainless writers gossip nonsensesTo others heads as dense as they isIt’s the same old maladyWhat they see is faulty

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like Big Bill BroonzyGetting old as my motherBut I tell you I got some company(But it’s alright)

But it’s alright, it’s alrightBut it’s alright, it’s alrightIt’s alright, alrightIt’s alright

ELO – Shine A Little Love

I had this album back in the 80s and enjoyed it straight through.

The introduction to Shine A Little Love on the Discovery album features a strange sounding choral piece with odd sound effects throughout.

This choral intro has been lifted from a German folk song recording called “Die Blümelein sie schlafen” (translates to “The Little Flowers, They Sleep”) written by Johannes Brahms.

For Shine A Little Love, a portion of a “Die Blümelein sie schlafen” recording was sampled, some distortion was done to it, various keyboard effects were added over it, and finally the whole recording was slowed and flipped backwards. Because of all the manipulation, it’s been incredibly difficult to identify.

The actual source of the recording sampled in Shine A Little Love is uncertain, but it is a choral recording.

This section is missing from the single version and several compilation releases of the song and may well be considered an introduction to the Discovery album as a whole and not so much an intro to Shine A Little Love.

The song was on the Discovery album. The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #4 in Canada, and #6 in the UK in 1979. The song was one of their biggest hits.

The album version with the intro

Shine A Little Love

Although the things you’ve done I wouldn’t criticize.
I guess you had your way.
You see I gotta make you understand.
I know it sounds a foolish thing to say.
But it don’t matter baby ‘cos’ today’s another day.

You shine a little love on my life
You shine a little love on my life
You shine a little love on my life and let me see.

Remember,tonight we’re gonna run till dawn
Remember,tonight we’re gonna say.
We’ll never stop we got a good thing goin’ on.
I know you’ve heard it all before.
But I really need you darlin’ every day I need you more.

[Repeat Chorus]

Can you understand.(Yes I understand) Can you feel it’s right.
(I know it is) Will you be the same.(I’ll do it all again).

It’s been a year now and it’s getting so much better.
You came home without a word.
Though everybody said you’ll soon forget her.
Thay couldn’t see and they just didn’t understand.
And lookin’ in the mirror there were fools at either hand.

Can you understand.(Yes I understand) Can you feel it’s right.
(I know it is) Will you be the same.(I’ll do it all again).

How many days had I been waiting there to tell you.
I really can’t believe.
We’re walkin’ out into the world tonight.
We’ll do it all again until the break of light.
And the feelin’ in your heart will soon be shinin’ in your eyes

[Repeat Chorus]

ELO – Showdown

This was ELO’s third single. The song was on the album On the Third Day in the US…it was released in 1973.

Showdown was written by Jeff Lynne. Early working titles of the song were Bev’s Trousers and All Over The World. Some of these songs have been released on various ELO collections, some using these original working titles and some not. They don’t vary much from the released version, having just various parts of the song mixed in or out as Jeff experimented with different mixes

The song peaked at #53 in the Billboard 100, #12 in the UK, and #47 in Canada in 1973.

The record was a favorite of John Lennon at the time, who dubbed the band “Son of Beatles” in a US radio interview (below is his full quote).

John Lennon on on the New York City radio station WNEW:“‘Showdown’ I thought was a great record and I was expecting it to be #1 but I don’t think UA [United Artists] got their fingers out and pushed it. And it’s a nice group – I call them ‘Son of Beatles’ – although they’re doing things we never did, obviously. But I remember a statement they made when they first formed was to carry on from where the Beatles left off with ‘Walrus,’ and they certainly did. This is a beautiful combination of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ by Marvin Gaye and ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’ by Lou Christie, and it’s a beautiful job with a little ‘I Am The Walrus’ underneath.”

Jeff Lynne: “On the early songs like ‘Showdown,’ we were still trying to find our way musically, but I can still listen to these tracks and smile and think how important they seemed at the time, even though at some of our shows we outnumbered the audience!”

From Songfacts

The liner notes for the ELO 2 remastered CD state: “‘Showdown’ was initially recorded under the working title ‘Bev’s Trousers No. 7.’ The song later proved to be a favorite of John Lennon’s and a popular departure into R&B (with cellos) for the band. During these sessions, Marc Bolan was also in the studio, recording material. The UK superstar and chart phenomenon was a friend of Jeff’s from his Idle Race days and accepted an invitation to play guitar on three ELO tracks. Marc also lent Jeff his 1953 Gibson Firebird for Showdown’s guitar solo. ‘Showdown’ was Jeff Lynne’s first self-composed worldwide hit single and ELO’s final release for EMI on 14 September 1973. The original promotional film, featuring an ELO performance on the banks of the River Thames, survives in EMI’s archive.”

Artists to cover this song include Odia Coates, Asia, and The Cadets.


She cried to the Southern wind
About a love that was sure to end
Every dream in her heart was gone
Heading for a showdown

Bad dreamer, what’s your name?
Looks like we’re riding on the same train
Looks as though there’ll be more pain
There’s gonna be a showdown.

And it’s raining, all over the world
it’s raining, all over the world
Tonight, the longest night

She came to me like a friend
She blew in on the Southern wind
Now my heart is turned to stone again
There’s gonna be a showdown

Save me, oh save me
It’s unreal, the suffering
There’s gonna be a showdown

And it’s raining, all over the world
Raining, all over the world
Tonight, the longest night

Raining, raining
raining, raining

Raining, all over the world
Raining, all over the world
The longest night

And it’s raining, all over the world
Raining, all over the world
Tonight, the longest night

You gotta save me, girl
Well, I’m ready for saving
I’m a fool for you
Ya know I’m ready, yeah
come on and save me

Can’t you feel what you’re doing to me, now?
I’m on the run again
Gotta save me

ELO – Last Train To London

Last Train to London was on the Discovery album released in 1979. Dave (A Sound Day) covered this album and he has some great trivia on who the model was on the cover. Click on there and see who it was…it will probably surprise you.

I had this album and there are two songs I really liked off of it other than the big hits. One of them is this one and the other was The Diary of Horace Wimp.

Jeff was happy to admit that he appreciated disco. Shine a Little Love and Last Train To London certainly pointed that way.

This album generated four top-ten UK singles, a successful new milestone in spite of the fact that this was the first which the group did not support with a tour.

Last Train To London peaked at #39 in the Billboard 100, #28 in Canada, and #8 in the UK.

Discovery peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart, #1 in the UK and #3 in Canada.

Jeff Lynne: “I love disco. I love it and I always have loved it, ever since I first heard that ‘bang, bang, bang, bang!’ And I realized, ‘Wow! You just keep the bangs in and fill the holes in with something else.’ And it worked. I mean Shine A Little Love is the perfect example, right there. And Last Train To London. I really enjoyed doing disco.”

Last Train To London

It was 9-29, 9-29 back street big city
The Sun was going’ down, there was music all around
It felt so right

It was one of those nights
One of those nights when you feel the world stop turning
You were standing there, there was music in the air
I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to stay

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

It was one of those nights
One of those nights when you feel the fire is burning
Everybody was there, everybody to share, it felt so right

There you were on your own
Looking like you were the only one around
I had to be with you, nothing else that I could do
I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to say

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

Underneath a starry sky
Time was still but hours must really have rushed by
I didn’t realize, but love was in your eyes
I really should have gone, but love went on and on

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

George Harrison – Cloud 9

This song was the title track of Georges 1987’s superb album. Song starts off with Harrison and Clapton trading licks and George matches him with his slide guitar. George was not a virtuoso type of guitar player but he was one of the best slide guitarists in the business. Guitar players are still trying to get his tone.

George wasn’t a self-indulgent guitar player…he always played for the song and always gave the song what it needed.

I love the blues-tone that Jeff Lynne got out of this production. He emphasized the bass drum and the bass to make it sound grounded.

Although the album was titled Cloud Nine, Harrison decided to use the numeric “9” in the song’s title to avoid confusion with the Temptations’ 1968 hit song “Cloud Nine.”

The song wasn’t released as a single but it’s a great-sounding song. This album marked a huge comeback for George. This album peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #10 in the UK in 1988.

After this album, George formed the Travelin Wilburys.

Cloud 9

Have my love
It fits you like a glove
Join my dream, tell me yes
Bail out should there be a mess
The pieces you don’t need are mine

Take my time
I’ll show you cloud nine
Take my smile and my heart
They were yours from the start
The pieces to omit are mine

Have my love
Use it while it does you good
Share my highs but the times
That it hurts pay no mind
The pieces you don’t need are mine

I’ll see you there on cloud nine

Take my hope
Maybe even share a joke
If there’s good to be shown
You may make it all your own
And if you want to quit that’s fine
While you’re out looking for cloud nine

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’

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.


“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

The Move – Do Ya — Powerpop Friday

Jeff Lynne wrote this song and it was recorded by the Move. I know the version by ELO more but I really like this version and this band. Do Ya was the B side to California Man and it was the only song by the Move to chart in the US. The band was extremely successful in the Uk. The Move had 7 top 10 hits, 10 top 40 and a number 1 in the UK Charts.

The Move formed in 1965 and was very successful until Roy Wood (lead singer and songwriter), Jeff Lynne (who joined in 1969), and Bev Bevan formed ELO in 1972. Do Ya came out at the time that ELO was forming. ELO made a studio recording of it and it appeared on the 1976 album A New World Record. 

If you want to know about the Move…the below link is a good start.

A beginner’s guide to: The Move


Do Ya

In this life I’ve seen everything I can see woman
I’ve seen lovers flying through the air
Hand in hand
I’ve seen babies dancing in the midnight sun
And I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above
I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides
But I never seen nothin’ like you.
Do ya want my love
Do ya want my face
Do ya want my mind
Do ya want my love
Well I heard the crowd singin’ out of tune
As they sat and sang auld lang syne by the light
Of the moon
I heard the preacher bangin’ on the drums
And I heard the police playin’ with their guns
But I never heard nothing like you
In the country where the sky touches down
On the field she lay her down to rest
In the morning sun
They come a runnin’ just to get a look just to
Feel to touch her long black hair they don’t
Give a damn
Do ya want my love
Do ya want my face
Do ya want my mind
Do ya want my love
Well I think you know what I’m trying to say
That is I’d like to save you for a rainy day
I’ve seen enough of the world to know
That i’ve got to get it all to get it all to grow
Do ya want my love
Do ya want my face
Do ya want my mind
Do ya want my love

Traveling Wilburys – Congratulations

This will be it for this Wilbury Weekend…one more tomorrow.

Congratulations for breaking my heart, Congratulations for tearing it all apart
Congratulations, you finally did succeed, Congratulations for leaving me in need

This appeared on their first Album Vol 1. This was the B side of the single End of the Line. Dylan sings this song of despair.

There is not a song on either of their two original album that I don’t know by heart. This one was played a lot in my car…which I seemed to livein… going in between a girlfriend and friends.



Congratulations for breaking my heart
Congratulations for tearing it all apart
Congratulations, you finally did succeed
Congratulations for leaving me in need

This morning I looked out my window and found
A bluebird singing but there was no one around
At night I lay alone in my bed
With an image of you goin’ around in my head

Congratulations for bringing me down
Congratulations, now I’m sorrow bound
Congratulations, you got a good deal
Congratulations, how good you must feel

I guess I must have loved you more than I ever knew
My world is empty now ’cause it don’t have you
And if I had just one more chance to win your heart again
I would do things differently, but what’s the use to pretend?

Congratulations for making me wait
Congratulations, now it’s too late
Congratulations, you came out on top
Congratulations, you never did know when to stop


Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care

This was the hit that kicked the Wilburys project off the ground. George Harrsison and Jeff Lynne started the ball rolling… Initially an informal grouping with Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, they got together at Bob Dylan’s Santa Monica, California studio to quickly record an additional track as a B-side for the single release of Harrison’s song This Is Love. This was the song they came up with, which the record company immediately realized was too good to be released as a single B side. They also recorded “You Got It” at the session, which helped convince them to record an album together.

The song made it to #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs Chart in 1988.

The title Handle With Care came when George Harrison saw the phrase on the side of a cardboard box in the studio.

Tom Petty on Bob Dylan: “There’s nobody I’ve ever met who knows more about the craft of how to put a song together than he does. I learned so much from just watching him work. He has an artist’s mind and can find in a line the keyword and think how to embellish it to bring the line out. I had never written more words than I needed, but he tended to write lots and lots of verses, then he’ll say, this verse is better than that, or this line. Slowly this great picture emerges. He was very good in The Traveling Wilbury’s: when somebody had a line, he could make it a lot better in big ways.”

Handle With Care

Been beat up and battered ’round
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found
Handle me with care

Reputations changeable
Situations tolerable
Baby, you’re adorable
Handle me with care

I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?

Everybody’s got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I’ve been fobbed off, and I’ve been fooled
I’ve been robbed and ridiculed
In daycare centers and night schools
Handle me with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Handle me with care

I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?

Everybody’s got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I’ve been uptight and made a mess
But I’ll clean it up myself, I guess
Oh, the sweet smell of success
Handle me with care