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’

Roy Orbison – Running Scared

Running Scared is a song written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson. The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 and #9 in the UK. Roy’s voice turns this  into something more than just a pop song.

Something I’ve read about this session. Roy wasn’t happy with his first couple of takes. He felt he wasn’t singing that final verse loud enough. The orchestra seemed to be drowning him out. He’d been singing that final note in falsetto, and he finally decided to just sing it full-on, singing it as hard as he could. Orbison sang so hard the musicians in the orchestra stopped playing. They were stunned.

Running Scared, like many of his other songs, was recorded in RCA Studio B in Nashville with the session pros known as “The A-team.”

From Songfacts

A song called “Running Scared” delivered in the trembling tones of Roy Orbison sure sounds pretty bleak, especially when he starts singing about the girl’s past love and how she still feels for him. At the end, however, we find out that everything works out for the best, and the girl walks away with the singer. Orbison’s plaintive voice led many to believe that all his songs were based on misery, but he liked to point out that this one has a happy ending.

Orbison began his career with Sun Records in Memphis, where he was a Rockabilly singer – in 1956 he reached #59 US with “Ooby Dooby,” recorded with his group the Teen Kings. As a songwriter, he also cracked the charts with “So Long I’m Gone” (#72 for Warren Smith in 1957) and “Claudette” (#30 in 1958 for The Everly Brothers).

After moving to Monument Records, Orbison went to Nashville and teamed with fellow songwriter Joe Melson. The pair began writing more operatic songs that would become huge hits for Orbison and define his style – songs that “give you an up mood while you’re crying,” as Melson put it. Their first major success was “Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel),” which was followed by “Blue Angel,” “Up Town,” “I’m Hurtin'” and “Running Scared,” which the pair claimed they wrote in just five minutes.

 The engineer on these sessions was Bill Porter, who gave this song an exaggerated dynamic range, meaning some parts are very quiet and others are very loud. While most songs of the era had a range of about 3 decibels, Porter said that this one has 24.

This was the last song Roy Orbison ever sung live. His final performance was on December 4, 1988, just two days before his sudden passing, at a Cleveland-area venue. As was his usual habit, Orbison closed the show with “Running Scared.”

Running Scared

Just runnin’ scared each place we go
So afraid that he might show
Yeah, runnin’ scared, what would I do
If he came back and wanted you

Just runnin’ scared, feelin’ low
Runnin’ scared, you love him so
Just runnin’ scared, afraid to lose
If he came back which one would you choose

Then all at once he was standing there
So sure of himself, his head in the air
My heart was breaking, which one would it be
You turned around and walked away with me.

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

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

Congratulations
Congratulations
Congratulations
Congratulations

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

Roy Orbison – In Dreams

How I love this song but…no matter how hard I try I cannot get the movie Blue Velvet out of my head while listening to it. The song helped revive Roy’s career when it appeared in the movie. Here is what Roy said:

Oh God! I was aghast, truly shocked! I remember sneaking into a little cinema in Malibu, where I live, to see it, Some people behind me evidently recognised me because they started laughing when the “In Dreams” sequence came on. But I was shocked, almost mortified, because they were talking about ‘the candy coloured clown’ in relation to doing a dope deal, then Dean Stockwell did that weird miming thing with that lamp. Then they were beating up that young kid! I thought, ‘What in the world? But later, when I was touring, we got the video out and I really got to appreciate not only what David Lynch gave to the song, and what the song in turn gave to the film, but how innovative the movie was, how it really achieved this otherworldy quality that added a whole new dimension to “In Dreams”. I find it hard to verbalise why, but Blue Velvet really succeeded in making my music contemporary again.

Roy Orbison claimed in interviews that the lyrics for this song came to him in a dream he wrote the music once he woke up. The song peaked #7 in the Billboard 100 in 1963. While the song was in the charts Orbison toured Britain with a new unknown group, named the Beatles.

From Songfacts

This song is featured in a key scene in the 1986 film Blue Velvet where Dean Stockwell’s character lip-synchs to the song. Orbison initially rejected director David Lynch’s request to use this song, but later made a video for the track with scenes from the film.

The use of this song in Blue Velvet sparked a career resurgence for Orbison. Because of legal entanglements, he didn’t have access to the master recordings of many of his hits, so after the movie drummed up interest in his work, he set about re-recording his songs for a compilation called In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. When Orbison asked Lynch if he could use footage of the film in a video for the re-recorded “In Dreams,” Lynch not only agreed, but offered to help with the song. With T Bone Burnett producing, Lynch directed Orbison in his performance as he would an actor in a film, and it worked, allowing Orbison to be faithful to the original recording by doing it with no overdubs.

Shortly before he died, Roy Orbison recorded a follow-up to this song called “In The Real World” on his 1989 album Mystery Girl.

In Dreams

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper
“Go to sleep, everything is alright”

I close my eyes then I drift away
Into the magic night, I softly say
A silent prayer like dreamers do
Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you

In dreams I walk with you
In dreams I talk to you
In dreams you’re mine all the time
We’re together in dreams, in dreams

But just before the dawn
I awake and find you gone
I can’t help it, I can’t help it if I cry
I remember that you said goodbye

Too bad it only seems
It only happens in my dreams
Only in dreams
In beautiful dreams.

Roy Orbison – You Got It

Roy was making a great comeback in the late eighties. He was a member of the Traveling Wilburys and he finished a new album called Mystery Girl in November of 1988. He confided in Johnny Cash that he was having chest pains and he would have to have it looked at…he never did.

The Traveling Wilburys Vol 1 was rising in the charts and he flew to Europe to do a show and came back and did a few more in America. On December 6, 1988, he flew model planes with his kids and after dinner passed away at the age of 52.

I remember watching the Traveling Wilburys video “End of the Line”. They made the video after Roy passed away… when his part came up they showed an empty rocking chair with Roy’s picture beside it.

You Got It featured Jeff Lynn, Tom Petty, and Phil Jones.

You Got It was released in 1989 and it peaked at #9 on the Billboard 100, #3 in the UK and #26 in Canada.

 You Got It

Every time I look into your lovely eyes,
I see a love that money just can’t buy.
One look from you, I drift away.
I pray that you are here to stay.Anything you want, you got it.
Anything you need, you got it.
Anything at all, you got it.
Baby! 

Every time I hold you I begin to understand,
Everything about you tells me I’m your man.
I live my life to be with you.
No one can do the things you do.
Anything you want, you got it.
Anything you need, you got it.
Anything at all, you got it.
Baby!
Anything you want
Anything you need
Anything at all

I’m glad to give my love to you.
I know you feel the way I do.
Anything you want, you got it.
Anything you need, you got it.
Anything at all, you got it.
Baby! 
Anything you want, you got it
Anything you need, you got it
Anything at all, you got it
Baby
Anything at all
Baby
You got it