Tom Petty – Here Comes My Girl

This song was on Tom Petty’s third album Damn the Torpedoes.

This was written the same week as “Refugee.” Both songs started as demos written by Heartbreakers guitar player Mike Campbell on a 4-track recorder in his house…Petty liked both and they finished them off…not a bad week when you get these two songs. Petty later said the chorus was inspired by The Byrds.

The song peaked at #59 in the Billboard 100, #82 in Canada, and #41 in New Zealand in 1980. I would have bet that it charted higher than that.

Mike Campbell:  “It’s very similar to “Refugee” – those two were written the same week. I made some demos and Tom liked those two. “Here Comes My Girl” was interesting because we had the chorus and Tom wasn’t sure how to do the verse, he kept trying to sing it different ways and he finally came across sort of half-talking it, and that’s when the song seemed to come to life.”

Tom Petty: “I struggled with that song for a little while.” “I felt, ‘I have to learn this thing. I’m not going to let it get away from me. And then I got the idea for the narration. And once I started that, it started falling into place.”

From Songfacts

In this song, Petty keeps getting torched by a girl, but he keeps going back to her, as he can’t resist her charms when she’s near. He half-sings the verses, where he tells himself he can’t keep doing this. The chorus is full throated, reflecting his excitement when his girl comes by, making him forget all that other stuff he said about her.

In our interview with Mike Campbell, he explained: “‘Here Comes My Girl’ was interesting because we had the chorus and Tom wasn’t sure how to do the verse, he kept trying to sing it different ways and he finally came across sort of half-talking it, and that’s when the song seemed to come to life.”

Damn The Torpedoes was the first album the band released on a major label. Their first two albums came out on a small label called Shelter Records, which was acquired by MCA. After some legal maneuvering where Petty filed for bankruptcy and the label sued the band, MCA set up a label called Backstreet Records, which was dedicated to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This didn’t end the tension between Petty and MCA. Petty held back the tapes for their next album, Hard Promises, when MCA tried to raise the price from $8.98 to $9.98. Petty won that battle and the album came out at the lower price.

The song predates MTV, but Petty still made a video for it, something few American bands did. Along with “Refugee,” the video was directed by John Goodhue and is simply footage of the band performing the song in a studio setting. Petty went on to deliver some incredibly innovative videos to MTV, earning him their Video Vanguard Award in 1994.

This plays on the series finale of The Office when Jim and Pam are dancing at Dwight and Angela’s wedding.

Here Comes My Girl

You know sometimes, I don’t know why
But this old town just seems so hopeless
I ain’t really sure, but it seems I remember the good times
Were just a little bit more in focus

But when she puts her arms around me
I can somehow rise above it
Yeah, man when I got that little girl standin’ right by my side
You know, I can tell the whole wide world to shove it, hey

Here comes my girl
Here comes my girl
Yeah, and she looks so right, she is all I need tonight

Every now and then I down to the end of the day
And I have to stop and ask myself why I’ve done it
It just seems so useless to have to work so hard
And nothin’ ever really seems to come from it

But then she looks me in the eye and says
We’re gonna last forever
And man, you know I can’t begin to doubt it
No, ’cause it just feels so good and so free and so right
I know we ain’t never goin’ to change our minds about it hey

Here comes my girl
Here comes my girl
Yeah, and she looks so right, she is all I need tonight (watch her walk)

Every time it seems like there ain’t nothin’ left no more
I find myself having to reach out and grab hold of something
Yeah, I just catch myself wondering, waiting, worrying
About some silly little things that don’t add up to nothin’

But then she looks me in the eye and says
We’re gonna last forever
And man, you know I can’t begin to doubt it
No, ’cause it just feels so good and so free and so right
I know we ain’t never gonna’ to change our minds about it, hey

Here comes my girl
Here comes my girl
Yeah, and she looks so right, she is all I need tonight

Tom Petty – Breakdown

Breakdown is one of the first songs that I ever heard by Tom Petty. In my band days, my friend Chris showed me the intro to this on guitar…I still know most of it. The dynamics of this song makes it a great song to hear live.

At first, Mike Campbell’s guitar lick was only used at the end of the song. Dwight Twilley came by the studio when Petty was playing it back and suggested they use it throughout the song. Petty liked the idea and called the band back to the studio in the middle of the night to re-record it.

This was Petty’s first single. When it was first released in January 1977 it went nowhere, but after months of touring, it was re-released in October and it hit. It peaked at #40 in the Billboard 100 and #40 in Canada in 1977.

From Songfacts

Dwight Twilley, who had a hit in 1975 with “I’m On Fire,” was signed to the same label as Petty, and was on the same career path for a while. Petty sang on some of Twilley’s songs, including his 1984 hit “Girls.”

Lyrically more sparse than most Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tracks, “Breakdown” finds Petty ready to end a union that has become toxic. “Go ahead and give it to me,” he tells her.

When the band first recorded this song, it was 7-minutes long, with an extended guitar solo at the end. The final version clocks in at a tidy 2:43.

This was featured in the 1978 movie FM. About a radio station in California, the movie was the basis for the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati. This was also included on the soundtrack.

Breakdown

It’s alright if you love me
It’s alright if you don’t
I’m not afraid of you runnin’ away, honey
I get the feeling you won’t

You see, there is no sense in pretending
Your eyes give you away
Something inside you is feeling like I do
We said all there is to say

Baby, breakdown, go ahead, give it to me
Breakdown, honey, take me through the night (baby, baby, breakdown)
Breakdown, now I’m standin’ here, can’t you see?
Breakdown, it’s all right
It’s all right
It’s all right
Yeah, it’s all right
It’s all right

Breakdown, go ahead, give it to me
Breakdown, honey, take me through the night (baby, baby, breakdown)
Breakdown, now I’m standin’ here, can’t you see?
Breakdown, it’s all right
It’s all right
It’s all right
Yeah, it’s all right

Gotta feelin’ it’s all right
Yeah, it’s all right
It’s all right
Well, is it all right?
I wanna hear you in the studio
Way back there
Is it all right?
Is everybody sure it’s all right?
Yeah, it’s all right
‘Cause if you leave if you want to
Baby, I don’t mind
Been standin’, facin’
Livin’ with it every day of my life
It’s all right
Can walk on out that door, baby
It’s all right
Baby, breakdown
It’s all right
And if you want to leave
It’s all right
I don’t mind
It’s all right
It’s all right

 

My 10 Favorite Powerpop Songs

As you may have guessed by now I’m an extreme fan of power pop. This list was hard to write…I kept changing most of it… but I knew the top choice and worked from there.

I just gave my self ten choices or I would have gone on and on. A lot of artists and their songs were left off…such as Todd Rundgren, The Cars, Sloan, The Lemon Twigs, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Shivvers, The Jayhawks,  and too many more to mention.

10. The Ride – Twisterella– 1992 – I found this a few months back and have been listening to it ever since.

9. The Records – Starry Eyes– 1979 – Great song. Starry Eyes would end up being The Record’s best-known song. Robert John “Mutt” Lange produced their debut album for The Records.

8. The La’s – There She Goes– 1990 – A very good power pop song that has no verses…It just repeats the chorus four different ways four different times…but that doesn’t matter.

7. Cheap Trick – Voices– 1980 – One of my top Cheap Trick songs. Robin Zanders voice sounds great in this Beatlesque song.

6. The Who –Pictures of Lily– 1967 –  When this song came out Pete Townshend coined the name “power pop” and this song is about the childhood…lusts…of a boy.

5. Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)– 1974 – An epic song by the Raspberries. Not their most popular…that would be “Go All The Way” but this encapsulates everything power pop is about. Bruce Springsteen on Overnight Sensation: It’s one of the best little pop symphonies you’ll ever hear.

4. Big Star – The Ballad of El Goodo – 1972 – The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfect constructed chorus keeps me coming back listen after listen.

3. Badfinger –No Matter What– 1971 – The only band to make this list twice. Why? because this song defines the crunchy power pop of bands like Cheap Trick to come.

 2. Tom Petty – American Girl– 1977 – The Rickenbacker, the hook, and a Byrds sounding track.

 

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  1. Badfinger – Baby Blue – 1972 – The number one song was the easiest decision of the list. The rest were changed a few times…this one for me is a no-brainer. This song is the perfect power pop song…strong vocals, Crunchy Brit  guitar, great hook,  and great melody

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

[Chorus:]
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

[Chorus]

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 – Jammin’ Me

I remember I had the album this was on…Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) and I was disappointed. I always liked this song though. The album did not live up to Southern Accents the previous album.

Although this is a 1980s song…Steve Jobs, Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, and Vanessa Redgrave are singled out…as well as events in the world…the idea behind it is more relevant today than 1987.

I’ve always thought this song was about information overload on our senses…being overwhelmed in the disinformation age…and this was 1987! How about now?

Mike Campbell, the guitarist for The Heartbreakers, wrote the music for this and gave Petty the demo. Tom held it for a while and didn’t do anything with it until one day when he was working with Bob Dylan. They came up with some lyrics by picking words out of a newspaper and off the television. Tom pulled out Mike’s demo, and they inserted those words over the track. The song is about the deluge of information and marketing messages that can prove overwhelming.

This song peaked at #18 in the Billboard 100, #41 in Canada, and #38 in New Zealand in 1987. It was written by Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Mike Campbell.

From Songfacts

Many of Petty’s songs start as demos written by Campbell. Mike also wrote the tracks for Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” and “The Heart Of The Matter,” and helped Petty produce this album. 

In 1986, the band toured with Bob Dylan in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, which led to Dylan’s contribution on this song. In 1988, Petty and Dylan played together in The Traveling Wilburys, a band whose other members were Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and Roy Orbison.

In the lyrics, Petty mentions various places and events that were in the news and getting constant media exposure. Actors Vanessa Redgrave, Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy also show up.

Jammin’ Me

You got me in a corner
You got me against the wall
I got nowhere to go
I got nowhere to fall

Take back your insurance
Baby nothin’s guaranteed
Take back your acid rain
Baby let your T.V. bleed

You’re jammin’ me, you’re jammin’ me,
Quit jammin’ me
Baby you can keep me painted in a corner
You can look away, but it’s not over

Take back your angry slander
Take back your pension plan
Take back your ups and downs of your life
In raisin-land

Take back Vanessa Redgrave
Take back Joe Piscopo
Take back Eddie Murphy
Give ’em all some place to go

You’re jammin’ me, you’re jammin’ me
Quit jammin’ me
Baby you can keep me painted in a corner
You can walk away but it’s not over

Take back your Iranian torture
And the apple in young Steve’s eye
Yeah take back your losing streak
Check your front wheel drive

Take back Pasadena
Take back El Salvador
Take back that country club
They’re tr yin’ to build outside my door

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

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

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Learning To Fly

This song wasn’t as popular with the masses as it was with me. From the 90s on this is in my top Tom Petty songs. Something about it resonated with me and I also saw Tom on this tour. The song was written by Tom Petty and his Traveling Wilburys bandmate Jeff Lynne.

The song peaked at #28 in the Billboard 100, #46 in Canada and #28 in New Zealand in 1991. The song was on the album “Into the Great Wide Open” that peaked at #13 in the Billboard album charts.

Petty got the idea for it when he saw a pilot being interviewed on TV during the Gulf War. The pilot said how it wasn’t hard learning to fly… the hardest part was coming down.

On October 21, 2017, Bob Dylan played “Learning to Fly” at First Bank Center in tribute to Tom who had just passed away a few weeks before. Bob told Rolling Stone Magazine: “It’s shocking, crushing news. I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I ll never forget him.”

From Songfacts

The song was informed by the political events of the time, specifically the Gulf War, as well as the band dynamics – Into The Great Wide Open was a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album, whereas Petty’s previous album, Full Moon Fever, was a solo album (although guitarist Mike Campbell played on every song and helped produce it). “I wanted that song to be a kind of redemptive song, only in the vaguest way, certainly not literally,” he told Billboard.

 It is based on only four simple chords: F, C, A minor, and G.

Julien Temple, who also did Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” directed the video, which shows a young boy in various key moments of adolescence, as he gets his wings.

Pink Floyd beat Petty to the title, releasing their “Learning To Fly” in 1987. Their song was also sparked by aviation argot – lead singer Dave Gilmour was taking flying lessons. Pink Floyd was moving forward after shedding their founding member, Roger Waters, so the song is a metaphor for finding their wings without him.

The country trio Lady Antebellum covered this on their seven-song acoustic EP iTunes Session.

Learning To Fly

Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well, the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn

I’m learning to fly (learning to fly) but I ain’t got wings (learning to fly)
Coming down (learning to fly) is the hardest thing (learning to fly)

Well, some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God-knows-where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

I’m learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up (learning to fly) must come down

I’m learning to fly (learning to fly), but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

I’m learning to fly (learning to fly), around the clouds
But what goes up (learning to fly) must come down

I’m learning to fly (learning to fly)
(Learning to fly) learning to fly
(learning to fly)
(learning to fly)
(learning to fly)
(learning to fly)

Lone Justice – Ways to Be Wicked

First time I heard this song I loved it. It was by a group called Lone Justice with lead singer Maria McKee. The song was Ways to be Wicked and it was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell. I loved McKee’s voice.

In 1985 the song peaked at #29 in the Mainstream Rock Charts and #77 in the UK. This is a surprise to me because I heard the song quite a bit back then and thought it charted higher. They had two more songs that come to mind. “I Found Love” and “Shelter”. They should have made it further than they did. Maria did have a number 1 in the UK with “Show Me Heaven” in 1990.

Ways To Be Wicked

Honey, why you always smile
When you see me hurt so bad?
Tell me what I did to you, babe
That would make you act like that?

Well, I’ve been your fool before, honey
Yeah, and I probably will again
‘Cuz you ain’t afraid to let me have it
No, you ain’t afraid to stick it in

Well, you know so many
Ways to be wicked
Ooh, but you don’t know one little thing
About love

Well, I can take a little pain
Yeah, I can hold it pretty well
I can watch your little eyes light up
While you’re walkin’ me through Hell

Well, I’ve been your fool before, honey
Yeah, and I probably will again
‘Cuz you ain’t afraid to let me have it
No, you ain’t afraid to stick it in

Well, you know so many
Ways to be wicked
But you don’t know one little thing
About love

Those cobra eyes
Lie with a smile
Baby you take pride
In the devil down inside, yeah

Well, I can take a little pain
Yeah, I can hold it pretty well
I can watch your little eyes light up
While you’re walkin’ me through Hell

Well, I’ve been your fool before
Yeah, and I probably will again
You ain’t afriad to let me have it
No, you ain’t afraid to sitck it in

Well, you know so many
Ways to be wicked
Ooh, but you don’t know one little thing
About love

Well, you know so many
Ways to be wicked
Yeah, but you don’t know one little, one little thing
About love

Yeah you know so many
Ways to be wicked
But you don’t know one little, one little

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Waiting

I bought the single when it came out in 1981 and then the album “Hard Promises”. This song has a Byrd feel to it and is reminiscent of the mid-sixties.  It peaked at #19 in the Billboard 100 and #6 in the Canadian Charts.

In the 1980s I watched the Gary Shandling Show faithfully and I remember that Tom Petty played this song on there in the late eighties.

“The Waiting”

Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like something from a dream
Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this
Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could’a ever told me ’bout this
I said yeah yeah[Chorus:]
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest partWell yeah i might have chased a couple women around
All it ever got me was down
Then there were those that made me feel good
But never as good as I’m feeling right now
Baby you’re the only one that’s ever known how
To make me wanna live like I wanna live now
I said yeah yeah[Chorus:]
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest partOh don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
Don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
I’ll be your bleedin’ heart, I’ll be your cryin’ fool
Don’t let this go too far
Don’t let it get to you