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Stan Lynch tackles an ‘Inside Job’
By Bill DeYoung
Gainesville Sun — May 30, 2000
The disgruntled drummer for Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Lynch tells of a “begrudging admiration” between himself and Don Henley.
Working as Don Henley’s co-producer on “Inside Job” was Stan Lynch’s biggest job yet.
“Metaphorically, it’s like I’ve built a lot of small houses and this is the first big building that I’ve really tried to build,” says Lynch, who’s stayed happily behind the scenes since leaving Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers in 1993. “But it’s been a logical progression. If I’d tried to do this 10 years ago, it would’ve been impossible. I would’ve freaked out.”
Ten years ago, Lynch was miserable in the Heartbreakers, where he was expected to play drums and keep his musical ideas to himself. Post-Petty, he has produced a dozen albums by smaller artists. “Now I’m getting more comfortable,” he says. “To make a higher-profile record is a little easier for me. It’s natural.”
An Ohio native, Lynch, 45, grew up in Gainesville, and like Petty and the other Heartbreakers left in his ’20s to seek rock ‘n’ roll fame and fortune in Los Angeles.
He says he never liked Henley’s old band much. “I had to play Eagles songs in Trader Tom’s,” he laughs. “And I remember when they were going to play the first Petty record on the radio on WRUF, we got in the car and drove around so we could hear it. And they played it back to back with ‘The Eagles’ Greatest Hits.’ So we were like, well, our record doesn’t really sound that good, does it?”
Henley, he recalls, “was part of the aristocracy. Don was part of something I was already rebelling against. I didn’t give them any respect for having come up the hard way. I thought those guys were born with silver spoons in their mouths.”
The two became running buddies in the mid-’80s, and co-wrote several Henley hits (including “The Last Worthless Evening” and “The Garden of Allah”). “We really didn’t talk about each other’s bands,” Lynch says. “Don didn’t have any big love affair with the Petty band, and I was no big Eagles wonk. I think there was a begrudging admiration, that we both came from small Southern towns and actually made a living at this.”
On “Inside Job,” Lynch has co-writing credits on nearly all the songs. “Sometimes he’ll turn in a track, just a nebulous piece of music, and I’ll like it,” he says. “And we build from there. Or sometimes Don and I will get in a room and pace around and scream at each other about some book we’ve been reading, and that could become a lyric.
“Or Don will say something that will trigger a thought. There’s a song on that record called ‘My Thanksgiving,’ we were talking about concentration camp victims, and people who have real problems, and physical things they have to overcome. Neither one of us have really ever had a bad day — how do you tell the world how fortunate you are? That’s how it started. He’s a thinking guy. He’s not a stoned rock star.”
Lynch believes Henley’s new-found domesticity has smoothed some of the ex-Eagle’s famously rough edges, something that’s reflected on every track on “Inside Job.”
“This is what Don’s really wanted his whole life,” Lynch says, “He was really a guy walking around with a glass slipper for years. How has it changed him? It’s made him really happy, down in his core, and allowed him to see how fortunate he’s been. I don’t think he ever noticed. You could say, ‘Hey Don, didn’t you guys just sell, like, a gazillion records?’ and he’d say ‘Yeah, but…'”
“Inside Job,” Lynch adds, is a portrait of Don Henley today. “It’s not going to resonate with Sugar Ray’s audience, and I’m OK with that,” he explains. “As a producer, my first job is ‘Don, did you make the record you wanted to make?'”
“Every morning he would say ‘This chronicle of this time in my life is important to me,’ and I knew I was doing my job.”