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Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll
The official TOM PETTY and the HEARTBREAKERS Fan Club Newsletter
Fall 1995 — Volume 1 Number 3
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Get The Royal Box Treatment With “Playback”
Due out Nov. 21, the six-CD, 92-song collection on MCA features two CD’s worth of never-before-released material and one devoted to non-LP B-sides.
MCA also to release companion Long-Form Home Video, “Playback,” featuring 17 videos from 1979-1993.
Having concluded their most successful U.S. concert tour to date on October 8 with a sold-out New Orleans show benefiting the National Veterans Foundation, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will release a career retrospective boxed set on MCA November 21. Titled PLAYBACK, it is an expansive and lavishly packaged six-CD collection containing 92 songs by one of rock’s most treasured artists. Covering the years 1973-1993, the box consists of three CDs of LP cuts and hit singles; two CDs of never-before-released material; plus an entire CD’s worth of non-LP B-sides.
Also included in the package is an 84-page booklet featuring rare photos, track-by-track comments on each of the songs by Tom and the Heartbreakers, and an in-depth biography of the band by veteran rock journalist Bill Flanagan. Tom and the Heartbreakers’ comments throughout are startlingly candid and honest — detailing disagreements between band members, the inside history of their various controversies and legal battles, and differing opinions about the merits of individual songs and albums. It is a remarkably informative and revealing look at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, even for those who’ve closely followed the band. The PLAYBACK box also contains a laminated backstage pass from the group’s 1989 “Strange Behavior” tour and a poster of the band in the recording studio.
Interestingly, the CDs are packaged in an unconventional manner: each disc comes in its own cardboard mini-jacket, which folds open the way gatefold LP jackets used to, including a small inner sleeve to protect each CD. The whole thing is housed in a 6×12-inch box. Each of the six CDs has its own title: THE BIG JANGLE (covering from “Breakdown” to “You Can Still Change Your Mind”), SPOILED AND MISTREATED (“You Got Lucky” to “A Self-Made Man”), GOOD BOOTY (“Free Fallin'” to “Christmas All Over Again”), THE OTHER SIDES (the B-sides), THROUGH THE CRACKS (unreleased material) and NOBODY’S CHILDREN (also unreleased material).
In tandem with the release of PLAYBACK will be a long-form home video of the same name. It contains 17 videos by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, from “Refugee” and “Here Comes My Girl” in 1979 (both created before there was MTV or any regular outlet for them) to the award-winning favorites “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Free Fallin’,” “Into the Great Wide Open” (with Faye Dunaway and Johnny Depp) and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (with Kim Basinger). When MTV gave Tom Petty a special Video Vanguard award in 1994, it was a very public acknowledgment of the imagination and hard work that has gone into a series of videos that have pushed the limits of a medium struggling to grow from a promotional tool to a genuine art form. Tom, on September 7, also won an MTV “Best Male Video” Video Music Award for “You Don’t Know How It Feels” from WILDFLOWERS, marking his second consecutive win in this category (last year, he won for “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”).
Not many artists release boxed set retrospectives while still at the top of their public careers (the currently charted WILDFLOWERS and GREATEST HITS are triple and quadruple platinum, respectively), but not many artists can match Tom Petty’s record of 20 years of commercial success along with an equal period of creative growth and critical acclaim.
In the liner notes to PLAYBACK, Tom observes that those who know the Heartbreakers only from their hit singles might not be familiar with the range of styles they have covered, from the Beach Boys influences of tracks like “You Can Still Change Your Mind” to the Nirvana-inspired hard rock of “Come On Down To My House” to various side trips into country, blues, psychedelic and surf music. “People had a mental picture of what we should sound like and if you played them something that didn’t sound like ‘Refugee’ or ‘American Girl’ or ‘Even The Losers,’ they were puzzled,” reflects Tom. “I still go through that.”
PLAYBACK — SONG LIST
DISC ONE: The Big Jangle
2) American Girl
3) Hometown Blues
4) Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll
5) I Need To Know
6) Listen To Her Heart
7) When The Time Comes
8 ) Too Much Ain’t Enough
9) No Second Thoughts
10) Baby’s A Rock ‘n’ Roller
12) Here Comes My Girl
13) Even The Losers
14) Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid)
15) Don’t Do Me LIke That
16) The Waiting
17) A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)
18 ) Something Big
19) A Thing Abot You
21) You Can Still Change Your Mind
DISC 2: Spoiled And Mistreated
1) You Got Lucky
2) Chage Of Heart
3) Straight Into Darkness
4) The Same Old You
6) Don’t Come Around Here No MOre
7) Southern Accents
8 ) Make It Better
9) The Best Of Everything
10) So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
11) Don’t Bring Me Down
12) Jammin’ Me
13) It’ll All Work Out
14) Mike’s Life, Mike’s World
15) Think About Me
16) A Self-Made Man
DISC 3: Good Booty
1) Free Fallin’
2) I Won’t Back Down
3) Love Is A Long Road
4) Runnin’ Down A Dream
5) Yer So Bad
6) Alright For Now
7) Learning To Fly
8 ) Into The Great Wide Open
9) All or Nothin’
10) Out In The Cold
11) Built To Last
12) Mary Jane’s Last Dance
13) Christmas All Over Again
DISC 4: The Other Sides
1) Casa Dega
2) Heartbreaker’s Beach Party
4) Cracking Up
5) Psychotic Reaction (Live)
6) I’m Tired Joey Boy (Live)
7) Lonely Weekend (Live)
8 ) Gator On The Lawn
9) Make That Connection
10) Down The Line
11) Peace In L.A. (Peace Mix)
12) It’s Rainin’ Again
13) Somethin’ Else (LIve)
14) I Don’t Know What To Say To You
15) King’s Highway (Live)
DISC 5: Through The Cracks
1) On The Street (Mudcrutch demo, written by Benmont Tench)
2) Depot Street (1975, Mudcrutch single, Shelter Records)
3) Cry To Me (1975, Mudcrutch, recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma)
4) Don’t Do Me Like That (1975, Mudcrutch, recorded in Hollywood, California)
5) I Can’t Fight It (1975, Mudcrutch, recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma)
6) Since You Said You Loved Me (1975)
7) Louisiana Rain (1975 version)
8 ) Keepin’ Me Alive (From Long After Dark sessions)
9) Turning Point (From Long After Dark sessions)
10) Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Original demo)
11) The Apartment Song (Home demo with Stevie Nicks cut for Southern Accents)
12) Big Boss Man (Warming up during Southern Accents sessions)
13) The Image Of Me (From Southern Accents sessions)
14) Moon Pie (“…probably us waiting for somebody to plug in a wire.”)
15) The Damage You’ve Done (Country Version)
DISC 6: Nobody’s Children
1) Got My Mind Made Up (Original version from Southern Accents sessions)
2) Ways To Be Wicked (Original version from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) sessions)
3) Can’t Get Her Out (From Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) sessions)
4) Waiting For Tonight (1988, during a break in Full Moon Fever sessions, recorded with The Bangles)
5) Travelin’ (1988, during a break in Full Moon Fever sessions)
6) Baby, Let’s Play House (1993, last TP&HB sessions wtih Stan Lynch)
7) Wooden Heart (1993, last TP&HB sessions with Stan Lynch)
8 ) God’s Gift To Man (Pre-Wildflowers)
9) You Get Me High (1992)
10) Come On Down To My House (1992)
11) You Come Through (Begun by Tom and Mike in 1986, finished in 1995 with Lenny Kravitz)
12) Up In Mississippi Tonight (1973, Mudcrutch, first professional recording)
PLAYBACK — Videos
1) Here Comes My Girl
3) The Waiting
4) A Woman In Love
6) You Got Lucky
7) Change Of Heart
8 ) Don’t Come Around Here No More
9) Jammin’ Me
10) I Won’t Back Down
11) Runnin’ Down A Dream
12) Free Fallin’
13) A Face In The Crowd
14) Yer So Bad
15) Learning To Fly
16) Into The Great Wide Open
17) Mary Jane’s Last Dance
PLAYBACK — Highlights
- Recordings by Mudcrutch, the Florida band that included Tom Petty and future Heartbreakers Michael Campbell and Benmont Tench. Among those are “Up In Mississippi Tonight,” an independent single written and sung by Tom in 1973; “On The Street,” a demo made in Benmont Tench’s living room that Tom brought to California and won the band a deal with Shelter Records; “Depot Street,” the only Mudcrutch single released on Shelter before Tom broke up the band to go solo; and several tracks recorded by Tom with Al Cooper, Jim Gordon, Emory Gordy, and Duck Dunn between the end of Mudcrutch and formation of the Heartbreakers.
- The original versions of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (later recorded by Stevie Nicks with TP&HB), “Ways To Be Wicked” (later done by Lone Justice) and “Got My Mind Made Up” (cut by Bob Dylan) as well as outtakes from most of the Heartbreakers projects and tracks from abandoned albums — including the sessions that produced TP&HBs’ final MCA single, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
- One-off collaborations with the Bangles (“Waiting For Tonight”), Lenny Kravitz (“You Come Through”) and Stevie Nicks (a rollicking early version of “The Apartment Song”).
- An entire CD of non-LP B-sides, including cult favorites such as “Trailer,” “Casa Dega,” and “It’s Rainin’ Again.”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers prove again that they are no strangers to the concept of giving…
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers donated all the proceeds, more than $100,000, from their sold-out June 5 and 6 Oklahoma City concerts at the Music Hall to the Children’s Relief Fund.
The goal of the Children’s Relief Fund is to meet the needs of children suffering injury or loss of family as a result of the April 19 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The funds will be designated for “after care” of children for physical and mental rehabilitation, plus their future education.
Greenpeace continued to be a presence on the tour, as it has been at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers shows for many years. Greenpeace set up information booths at every concert, collecting signatures for petitions that impact the environmental movement.
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontations to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.
Greenpeace is known for working with the music industry to integrate activism into popular culture.
For the second leg of the tour, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rejoined forces with USA Harvest, the nation’s largest all-volunteer food distribution organization that collected over 100,000 cans of food at selected dates on the tour’s first leg and distributed them directly to the homeless and hungry. USA Harvest was tied into every concert on the tour route during the second leg.
Concertgoers brought cans of food that were collected at the venues and distributed to local missions and shelters.
National Veterans Foundation
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers raised $175,000 for the National Veterans Foundation by donating proceeds from their closing night concert in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 8. The sold-out concert rocked the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena, when over 7,000 attended the final concert of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ’95 tour.
During a press conference in New Orleans, Tom said, “We are very blessed in the music and entertainment industry — we have the opportunity to help others and it’s an easy thing for us to do.”
Front row tickets from every show were also donated by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to the National Veterans Foundation which, in turn, auctioned them to fans.
Shad Meshad, founder and president of the National Veterans Foundation, commented that what Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers did, “Was to help to heal the lives of many of our country’s veterans… His (Petty) generosity will make a major difference to the ten million veterans in today’s society who are in need of assistance.”
Found in 1985, the National Veterans Foundation gives assistance to all veterans and has served over 200 veterans organizations nationwide since its inception. The foundation’s efforts have resulted in thousands of veterans receiving help in varying forms of program assistance — clothing, job training, housing, medical treatment and counseling, as well as rehabilitation counseling.
Rock and Wrap It Up
The Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour also aligned with Rock and Wrap It Up, an international food collection volunteer service which works with promoters to pick up edible food leftover from backstage caterers and distribute it to local soup kitchens and shelters.
MTV Video Music Awards
Honoring him for the second year in a row, Tom Petty received the award for “Best Male Video” at the 12th annual MTV Video Music Awards for his video for “You Don’t Know How It Feels.:
On September 7, Tom was personally on hand to accept the award at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
When his name was announced, a grinning Tom Petty ambled up to the stage and flashed a peace symbol to cheering fans. With typical charm and subtle sense of humor, he remaked, “Wow, I’m nervous. Thank you very much to everyone who voted for us and I’d really like to thank the Director, Phil Joanou, who had a lot of faith in me and no concept at all when we got to the stage. But we improvised and things worked out okay. I really want to thank MTV for playing the video even though there was one word I could never understand … And, especially, you know, all our fans out there, God bless you. Thank you very much, okay?”
In 1994, Tom won the “Best Male Video” award for “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and was presented with the “Video Vanguard Award” for his overall achievements with music cideos. In 1985, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Special Effects” for their video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”
Tom’s ever-changing lyrics to “Breakdown:”
“Take my: ___________ house, car, driveway, fence, yard, mailbox, credit cards, bills, dog, cat, fish, goldfish bowl, barbecue sauce, lawnboy, wheelbarrow, power saw, sun, moon, star, sky, earth, Corvette, motorcycle, surfboard, skateboard, shoes, socks, shirt, pants, belt, tie, tee shirt, argyle sweater, wallet, American Express Card, leather leash, photographic equipment, TV set, guitar, CD, stereo, amplifier, p.a. system, Jerry Garcia records…”
“…. Give me my self respect.”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ two Hollywood Bowl concerts on June 9 and 10 drew a large crowd of celebrities — and an even larger crowd of fans anxious to see the band live!
Stars came out in force to catch the guys in action. Johnny Depp and Kate Moss were there, along with their huge bodyguard. Also on hand for the shows were Jackson Browne, Dave Stewart, Adam Duritz, Garry Shandling, Jeff Lynne, Dallas Taylor, Jim Keltner, Phil Everly, Cheryl Tiegs, Michael Kamen, Rick Rubin, Lenny Castro and former Heartbreaker, Ron Blair, and his parents.
Note from Cathy Buffington: Out of curiousity, I watched Ron Blair closely during “American Girl” when almost everyone in the audience was singing along with the band … and no, Ron did not seem to be singing along during what were his old Heartbreakers’ backing vocals (“Make it last all night…”)
Members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ families were also there to show who the band’s biggest fans really are! Seen having a great time dancing and singing were Tom’s life, Jane, and his youngest daughter, Kim and friends. Mike’s wife, Marcie and his three children were also there to groove with the band. In addition, Ben’s wife, Courtney, Howie’s girlfriend, Carlene Carter, and Cassidy, Steve Ferrone’s fiancée, were all in the audience to show their support for the guys.
- “You got me all excited now … You got me really, really excited … This means we have to go all the way … I’m really easy … ’cause ‘You Wreck Me,’ baby!”
- Speaking fondly about songs from the ’50s, Tom prefaced “Lonely Weekends” with, “This is a song by a name who passed away recently named Charlie Rich … who we really admired … Charlie could really rock.”
- Tom’s innovative endings for the title of “Drivin’ Down to Georgia ….”
“…. with my mind made up,”
“…. with a headache,”
“…. with three peaches,”
“…. to get me some chewing gum,”
“…. half out of my mind,”
“…. with my head out the window,”
“… on a Sudafed.”
- Priming the crowd for “Diamond Head,” “Prepare your mind for a supernatural, super saver jet, super nova experience … A psychedelic psycho-drama … You’re in for a big treat, you fans of the electric guitar … Mike Campbell has consented to take you on an electric journey down the neck of the Fender Jaguar … Let’s hear it for my buddy, Mike Campbell!
- As an introduction to “King’s Highway” in Tupelo, Mississippi (birthplace of Elvis Presley), Tom reflected, “Elvis Presley is what this country is all about … We went to Elvis’ house … I looked at Elvis’ house … I can see why he moved …”
- Tom, leading into “I Won’t Back Down” in New Orleans, “The very last night of a very long tour. You’re doing a great thing for a lot of veterans tonight and we thank you. We’ll dedicate this song to all you veterans … War really sucks — I’m still of that opinion.”
It’s Good To Be King Of Your Own Little Town …
In early April during the first leg of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 1995 tour, Tom Petty and his wife, Jane, had the privilege of meeting president Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Backstage
- A Heartbreaker “who shall remain anonymous” ran from the dressing rooms to his bus wearng only shorts and tee shirt, hair still dripping wet from the shower in Pine Knob, MI;
- Tom Petty relaxed backage with Pete Droge and his band;
- Elvis tableclothes;
- Watching his young son, Darien, play basketball backstage in Columbia, MD was proud dad, Mike Campbell;
- While playing ping-pong with a crew member, Scott Thurston slid on the deck, almost falling, and quipped, “I’ll be the first musician to miss a gig because of ping-pong injury;”
- Wearing sunglasses and the hood up on his sweatshirt to disguise his appearance, Mike Campbell went out into the audience with his cousin to watch Pete Droge’s band perform;
- Everyone shared bug spray to ward off the “attack of the giant mosquitoes” in Jones Beach, NY;
- Tom Petty discussed Playback, the new Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers boxed set with Cathy Buffington in Jackson, MS, noting, “It’s really looking good!”
- Linda Burcher sat on the floor in the dressing room hallway making a last-minute adjustment to the hem of Tom’s pants in Columbia, MD;
- Musician Bob Seger visited with his Heartbreakers friends backstage, then enjoyed the show from the audience in Pine Knob, MI;
- In response to questions about Tom smashing his guitars on stage, Alan “Bugs” Weidel (Tom’s roadie) reassured Cathy B. in Columbia, MD that Tom’s guitars are “sturdier than you think.”
- Steve Ferrone was seen with bright purple hair in Jones Beach, NY;
- Linda Burcher collected all the guys’ white clothes for washing … Dean Correa (Head of Security) mischievously offered to help fluff and fold;
- A briefly-clad Steve Ferrone leaned out of his dressing room, “There’s no soap in here!”
- In Tuscaloosa, AL, Benmont Tench suggested to Cathy B., “Let’s have a contest!” … Okay, we’ll have a Benmont contest in a future Newsletter;
- Howie Epstein’s German Shepherd, Dingo, played with crew members, happily running, jumping and barking (Dingo, not the crew) in Pine Knob, MI; Dingo even had his own laminated backstage pass!
- Howie talked about Dingo and the cats that he and Carlene Carter have;
- Robin Calhoun (Tom’s bus driver) applied a large bright decal which read “You Wreck Me, Baby!” to the back of Tom’s tour bus in Columbia, MD … Band and crew buses had decals saying “It’s Good To Be King” and “Dogs With Wings.”
- Ben commented to Cathy B. that he really liked the way the band was playing “Learning To Fly” and “I’ll All Work Out,” saying he was glad the songs were coming across okay to the audience;
- A quietly authoritative Richard Fernandez (Tour Manager) was always a gently smiling, calming presence backstage;
- Ben and Mike talked about the different artists with whom they have collaborated outside of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers;
- Mike’s guitar technician, Steve Winstead, told Cathy B. all about Mike and Tom’s guitars… (for future newsletters);
- Steve Ferrone and Dean Correa piled their plates high with ice cream;
- Mike and Ben generously took time to pose for photos with fans;
- In New Orleans, LA, Mike showed off his beautiful new carved cane. “Pete (Droge) gave it to me … it’s from Kenya … isn’t it cool?”
- Crew members enjoyed hamming it up for “last day” photos;
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received special awards of recognition from the National Veteran’s Foundation and Tom was interviewed for Good Morning America before the last show in New Orleans.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Onstage
- “Welcome to the show. I’m Tom Petty and of course these are the Heartbreakers…”
- In Reno, NV, Tom Petty picked up a bra which had been tossed on stage, saying, “This looks like a big one,” then put it on and modeled it; he did it again with a black strapless number in Pittsburgh, PA;
- “Learning To Fly” was dedicated to Jerry Garcia in Salt Lake City, UT;
- Acting as his “guitar roadie” on stage in Columbia, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA, Mike Campbell’s daughter, Brie, handed him his treasured guitars;
- Tom kicked his guitar and let it swing loosely from his neck during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” then knocked the microphone down and smashed his guitar around at the end of “Honeybee”;
- Scott Thurston sang beautiful harmony with Tom on “A Higher Place”;
- Tom sat cross-legged on the stage, setting the tone with an untamed version of “Refugee.” Just like the old days;
- In Tupelo, MS, birthplace of Elvis Presley, the crowd screamed wildly when Tom sang, “She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis….;”
- Steve Ferrone and Tom waltzed around the stage at the end of several shows;
- While the band played “‘Round and ‘Round” Tom demonstrated his version of Chuck Berry’s “duck walk”;
- Checking out the equipment before the show in Hartford, CT, were Howie Epstein and his dog, Dingo;
- With his long blond hair flying, Tom showed off his “head-banging” technique during the hard-driving endings of “It’s Good To Be King,” “Drivin’ Down to Georgia” and “Refugee”;
- Although his guitar strap came undone during “Honey Bee” in Pittsburgh, PA, Tom was unfazed while Bugs brought him a new guitar. The strap of Mike’s red Gretsch guitar came undone in Huntsville, AL … Mike sailed smoothly through the song, leaning the guitar on the floor of the stage;
- Electrifying the crowd with his pink Fender Jaguar, Mike ripped into “Diamond Head” adding, among others, parts of “Secret Agent Man,” “James Bond,” “Exodus,” “Breakdown,” “You Got Lucky,” a touch of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and a lot of Mike Campbell;
- Hauntingly beautiful lighting effects silhouetted Tom from above at the end of “Breakdown;”
- In Jackson, MS, an amused Tom Petty announced, “Steve Ferrone on drums broke a bass drum three songs into the show … let’s hear it for Steve!”
- “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “It’s Good To Be King” were highlighted by Mike and Tom’s passionate guitar leads;
- During “Drivin’ Down to Georgia” Tom pulled petals off a rose (“Won’t last long, wintertime’ll get ’em”);
- Mike strolled off the stage examining a bright pink bra tossed to the band in Cleveland, OH;
- In Pittsburgh, PA, Tom referred to Ben’s many collaborations with other artists. “If you look through your record collection, I’ll bet you can plan on at least two of ’em — my favorite piano player, Benmont Tench!” He also referred to Ben as “the man who actually started the Heartbreakers a long time ago;”
- Tom rocked into “Lonely Weekends,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Drivin’ Down To Georgia,” and “American Girl,” bouncing his left leg Elvis-style (Cathy B. really liked that…);
- A wild, raucous rendition of “Gloria” was added to the encore;
- Tom excitedly announced, “We’ve got a new album coming out in November … it’s got 6 CDs,” then launched into a killer version of “Come On Down To My House;”
- Steve Winstead (Mike’s guitar technician), joking around, vacuumed in front of the stage during Pete Droge’s act … so … Pete introduced him to the crowd in New Orleans, LA;
- Dressed as a rather large bee, lighting technician Bruce Heard floated down from the rigging and danced to “Honeybee” while hovering above the band during the last show in New Orleans, LA (Gotta watch those lighting guys … maybe you’ve been high up in the rigging a little too long, Bruce …);
- All the bras that had been tossed on stage during the tour were hung up on the stage lights so they would fly up and down as the lights moved in New Orleans;
- Joining in with the weird and whimsical spirit of the “last night,” Mike Campbell came out on stage wearing a wrestling mask during “Honeybee” in New Orleans;
- “… Till we see you again, God bless you all …”
Tom Petty – Songwriter
Excerpts from Tom Petty Among The Wildflowers — The SongTalk Interview
Paul Zollo and SongTalk were kind enough to give us permission to print excerpts from Tom Petty Among The Wildflowers — The SongTalk Interview by Paul Zollo, which was originally published in Vol. 4, Issue 3 of SongTalk. For a copy of the complete interview, please write to SongTalk, 6381 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 780, Hollywood, CA, 90028.
Paul Zollo, Editor of SongTalk, interviewed Tom Petty shortly after Wildflowers was completed, before any singles had yet been released.
SongTalk: When you pick up your guitar first thing in the morning to work on a song, where do you start?
Tom Petty: There are some days when you pick up the guitar and it’s very friendly to you and it sounds very beautiful and you can just play C and it sounds great. Some days you pick the thing up and it’s just not friendly. It’s not ringing. There’s no ring to it, it doesn’t want to respond. That’s kind of how I know, ‘Oooh, it’s being friendly today!’ (Laughs) ‘Oooh, I feel very musical and things are coming.’ But when it’s not, with me anyway, I just close down.
I could write a song … now if I had to. But I don’t think it would necessarily be good. You’ve got to have some real, very real, inspiration. But to look for it too hard is ridiculous. But if it feels like music, then probably some level of inspiration is working. Then you just start to play. Play “Walk Don’t Run” for half an hour, or whatever has come into your mind, and from there you’ll move off that into something — you’ll find a couple changes, or a lyric or something that comes into your own mind.
It’s a funny thing about songwriting, that you can work hard on a song for months, and then a really great one will pop up almost on its own with hardly any work. It’s not an activity where work equals achievement.
Not really, no, because you’re dealing in magic. It’s the same with any other imaginative work, painting or filmmaking, it’s this intangible thing that has got to happen. And to really seek it out too much might not be a good idea. Because, you know, it’s very shy too. (Laughs)
But once you’ve got it, you can work on songs and improve them. Once you’ve got the essence of them. You see if there’s a better word, or a better change.
When songs don’t come easy, do you keep working on them or do you put them aside to come back to them later?
Probably it depends on how intrigued I am by the bit I’ve got. If I know I really have got something, I’ll stick with it and chase that thing down, you know? But if not, things can lay around for a long time.
Do you work on songs with your guitar and work on music and words at the same time?
I try to, yeah. I work mostly with the guitar or piano. I’ve found, especially with this last album, that I really prefer getting the melody and music at the same time as hopefully a chunk of the words. I think this is better for me than trying to marry the two together at different times. I think I was always happiest with stuff that I wrote that came alive all in one try. But, you know, honestly, you do anything you can to make it work.
Is it unusual for something to arrive in one piece, words and music together?
It’s not unusual for most of it to arrive. For the whole song to arrive instantly is really strange. Really unusual. I don’t think it’s ever happened to me more than once or twice. It happened to be once on this album, the song “Wildflowers.” I just took a deep breath and it came out. The whole song. Stream of consciousness: words, music, chords. Finished it. I mean, I just played it into a tape recorded and I played the whole song and I never played it again. I actually only spent three and a half minutes on that whole song. So I’d come back for days playing that tape, thinking there must be something wrong here because this just came too easy. And then I realized that there’s probably nothing wrong at all. (Laughs)
Did you write “Wildflowers” with somebody in mind? It’s directed to a person: “You belong among the wildflowers.”
I don’t know. It just appeared. Maybe in retrospect I can piece together who it’s about. And that’s not uncommon for me, to take a year to nail down exactly what was in my mind and what was coming from the subconscious. I can often, with the luxury of hindsight, pin down exactly what was in the mind. But sometimes it’s very hard to know exactly what it was about, or who it was about.
I just write these songs, you know. And then I hope there’s some sort of truth to them and some sort of timelessness to them. And if it feels like there is, then I feel, okay, that’s a song. But it’s very hard to get that, too. It’s easy to say it. But it really takes a long time to get that. But you don’t always know. I don’t. I kind of try to play until I go into a semi-subconscious space. And then things start arriving. And then you get so caught up in the process that you don’t want to look much deeper at the time because it could really make the whole thing disintegrate. I feel that way. I don’t want to look too far behind the curtain.
I’m just glad that they’re arriving. And then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning later on, I see, oh, I know that that is about. (Much laughter) Never would have wanted that revealed.
But you’re careful not to question them while writing —
No, you mustn’t. You’ve got to let them just arrive. (Pause) Yeah, you can’t question what you’re doing, because that could really get in the way of what’s trying to come up.
Do you ever keep notebooks with ideas for titles and song ideas?
I have lots of notebooks. I have all the notebooks. I’ve kept them. That’s one thing I’ve hung onto throughout my whole life. I have big satchels with all my notebooks. Even the ones that were confiscated for court when I was sued and were stamped for evidence. I have all that stuff. Sometimes I go through them in the course of an album and I get them out and try to spin through them. Though I find the older stuff really isn’t very good, when I look at it. Stuff that I didn’t use and it was a damn good idea that I didn’t use it. (Laughter) I was entirely right about not using it.
But when you’re working on songs, you might look through the notebooks?
I might, yeah. If I’m just looking for stuff. I might look through to see if I missed something. Anymore, it’s like it’s written in envelopes. I sit up in bed and say, “Oh… that’s good,” and write it on somebody’s mail and stick it in my drawer.
So in my drawer is all these envelopes with little scraps of paper with one word or maybe two words (laughs) one line, one idea. It’s really hard to make sense of it later.
You mentioned getting into that trance where things start to arrive.
That’s as close as I can describe it. I knew I’ve heard other people talk about how they get there in different ways. Brian Wilson said he would play boogie-woogie. And when he stopped playing boogie-woogie the first thing he would go to on piano would be a tune. There are all ways of doing it. You can just sit and listen to records. Or you might play anything on guitar. “Walk Don’t Run” for half an hour. It all comes back to what I was telling you about when the guitar or the piano just feels friendly, and it’s not much effort. When it gets to be a lot of effort, it usually doesn’t work. It just gets to be too much effort.
When you’re writing, do you have any kind of routine? Do you start in the morning or at any certain time?
No. I think that would frighten me. If I knew that at nine I was going to come in to write a song, I think I would be intimidated by it. I know that Randy Newman does that. Shows up, goes to work. And I think probably in the thick of any album some of that starts to happen.
The Wilburys certainly worked like that. We’d show up. But there you had pals, and you were going to go in, and that creates a vibe. But to be all alone and know that every day you’re going to wake up and go to work, that would be hell for me.
But on this album you wrote so many songs. You must have felt like doing it a lot.
Yeah. Man, if something starts to happen, then it’s great. It’s so much fun, you know? I go in my little room back there and look up and it was two in the morning! The whole day had gone by except for maybe eating something. I was having a ball. I was off in my own thing. I wish it was always like that. It probably could be, if you just don’t do it until it’s like that.
Do you find daytime or nighttime affects it, or are all times good?
I think they all work. You probably do write differently at night. At night things get very quiet and music sounds different. You have to be careful that you don’t just mellow out. Sometimes you can get pretty mellow when it gets late at night. (Laughter)
Maybe to write rockers, it’s better in the day. For me.
You were saying how some times you go to your guitar and it just seems friendly. Do you usually go to the same guitar to write?
I think I probably go to different ones. But the one that I think is the most faithful one (laughs) is that one, the Gibson that I’ve had since I was 18 years old. I wrote most everything on that.
So most of your songs have been written on an acoustic?
I think so. Though, sometimes you go to different guitars just to freshen things up. That one is a good one to write on for me because it has certain overtone in the bass that’s nice, and it makes a kind of overtone that I really like. I’ve written on a lot of guitars but I think that’s my favorite one, the Gibson Dove.
Will you ever take a guitar song and play it on piano?
Yeah. I’ll do that sometimes just because you go to different places when you go to the piano. If you’re a guitar player, you automatically go to a lot of the same places again and again. So it’s sometimes good, even if you’re writing it on the guitar, to suddenly take it over to the piano.
Some songwriters have said that it bothers them when people get their songs wrong.
It does. It can bother you, if somebody got it completely wrong, I would tell them it’s wrong. But I think that’s your job, to write it so that they won’t get it completely wrong. but it is fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me what people will think you’re on about. But that’s the beauty of art. You can see a great painting, you can see a Chagall. And what’s it about? (Laughs) It’s about whatever the hell you think it’s about. I can’t imagine Picasso explaining why her eye is on the side of her head. “Well, let me tell you why…” It would ruin it. But that’s exactly what he does do, if he has to talk to Rolling Stone or something. They’d say, “Hey, Pablo — why the hell are these eyes all over the place here? (Laughter)
Much of music journalism is about words more than music.
Yes. They completely review you that way. They end up reviewing the lyrics. And I don’t think lyrics are necessarily what’s being driven home all the time. I quite enjoy Little Richard but I don’t see it as a heavy lyric. But I think they are entirely the right lyrics, for what he’s singing. Where I think if I had to separate them and review them, I don’t think I’d take a lyrical approach. You know? I think it’s the whole package that you have to deal with. It’s created by the music and the lyrics. But these guys have got a job to do and it’s probably much easier to write about lyrics when you’re a writer, than to go into the whole thing.
And your work is appreciated by such a wide spectrum of people. It appeals to the young and the old.
Children like it, which I’m really proud of. I get a lot of fan mail from children. I mean really young children. Kindergarten age children. That really pleases me. Because on some level, it’s very subtle, complicated stuff. But at its basest level, a child could dig it. I’m always flattered when children respond to it. Because thye’re so pure and unpolluted (laughs) that it’s great. So many people tell me that every time they get in the car their kid has to hear Full Moon Fever or one of my other albums. I never have quite understood why that is but I’ve come to believe it. Because I get so much mail from children. They draw pictures and all, which is great.
So many of your songs have that sense of timelessness, and have already stood up to the test of time.
We were lucky in that we never got into any particular trend or fad. You try to avoid it as much as you can. And I’ve just been fortunate that way. Because I didn’t know that starting out. (Laughs) I didn’t have a master plan. I was just going day to day. I’m still very pleased when I hear my old records. You hear them on the radio and they really don’t sound too bad. They really don’t. So that’s nice. I feel very blessed with that. I really feel very blessed.
Tom Petty Trivia Contest!
1. What is the title of TP&HB’s first album?
2. Who portrayed Mary Jane in the “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” video?
3. What was Tom Petty’s hometown?
4. Who turns on the electricity in the “You Got Lucky” video?
5. What is Tom Petty’s middle name; on what song does he mention it?
6. In the video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” how many sugar cubes does Tom drop in the teacup with Alice?
7. When Tom met Elvis Presley, what Elvis movie was being filmed?
8. Which Tom Petty video is completely animated?
9. What group did Tom Petty belong do that also included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison?
10. Which Tom Petty/Mike Campbell song was recorded by The Chipmunks?
11. At the beginning of what TP&HB song does a voice say, “It’s just the normal noises in here?”
12. Who was the drummer for TP&HB on Saturday Night Live on November 19, 1994?
13. What year was TP&HB’s first appearance on Saturday Night Live; what two songs did they perform on the show?
14. What kind of animal belonging to Mike Campbell was in Tom Petty: Going Home?
15. What Tom Petty/Mike Campbell song is on the Mad Love soundtrack; who performs it?
16. What Heartbreaker rides across the scene on a bicycle at the end of the Traveling Wilburys video, “Handle With Care”?
17. What regular TP&HB tour crew member was a very early member of Mudcrutch?
18. Which Tom Petty video was directed by the son of one of the Traveling Wilburys; what is the director’s name?
19. What Tom Petty song did Tom sing on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show?
20. On how many episodes of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show did Tom appear?
21. On the February 21, 1980 cover of Rolling Stone magazine, what is Tom wearing that would have a connection with people he would work with later in his career?
22. Who appeared on stage with TP&HB at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards; what two songs did they perform together?
23. In 1985, TP&HB performed in a special concert on the roof of a hotel. Name the hotel as well as the city and state where it was located.
24. Who was the opening act for the two TP&HB “Homecoming Concerts” in St. Petersburg, Florida and Gainesville, Florida (November 2-3, 1993)?
25. What are the titles of the A and B-sides of the first recording by Mudcrutch done at Criteria Studios in Miami in 1973; who is listed as the Executive Producer on the single?
26. Which current members of TP&HB were Mudcrutch members for that 1973 recording?
27. What year and model # Rickenbacker is Tom holding on the Damn the Torpedoes cover; to whom did the guitar belong; what connection does this guitar have with George Harrison?
28. In the movie, Made In Heaven, what was the name of Tom Petty’s character?
29. In A Bunch Of Videos And Some Other Stuff, what does the license plate say on the Cadillac in which Tom is riding during his “tour of the San Fernando Valley”?
30. Which official member of TP&HB is not married?
31. Which four videos were filmed by TP&HB on the same day?
32. Which member of TP&HB has a dog named Enzo?
33. What was Stan Lynch’s last gig with TP&HB?
34. Who wrote the Mudcrutch song, “On The Street”?
35. In A Bunch Of Videos And Some Other Stuff, whose picture is on the tee shirt that “Buffalo” Dave Stewart is wearing?
36. What Tom Petty/Mike Campbell song was parodied in 1983 by Weird Al Yankovic; what was his name for the song?
37. In the video for “I Won’t Back Down,” describe in detail the very famous guitar that is being played by Mike, to whom it belonged at the time of the video; and how/why it is famous.
Tom Petty Trivia Contest Prizes!
Have we got a surprise for you! We’ve got great prizes to award to the fans who get the most answers correct in this TRIVIA CONTEST!
These prizes were generously donated to us from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; all autographs are guaranteed to be authentic!
The prizes are as follows:
1st Prize (1) – The new TP&HB Boxed Set, Playback, autographed by Tom Petty.
2nd Prize (1) – The new TP&HB Video compilation, Playback, autographed by Tom Petty.
3rd Prize (3) – An autographed 8×10 photo of Tom Petty.
4th Prize (2) – The new TP&HB Boxed Set, Playback, (not autographed)
5th Prize (3) – The new TP&HB Video compilation, Playback, (not autographed)
6th Prize (10) — A TP&HB 1995 Tour Tee Shirt (not autographed)
- Send your answers to:
Tom Petty Trivia Contest
P.O. Box 260159
Encino, CA, 91426-9998
- Please include your name, address (including postal zip code) and telephone number.
- Please do not send long letters along with your contest entries.
- All contest entries must be postmarked on or before December 31, 1995.
- Only one entry per person, please. If more than one entry from a person is received, all of their entries will be discarded.
- In the case of ties, winners will be determined by a random drawing of all who qualify.
- Winners will be notified by mail before February 29, 1996.
(Give it a try even if you don’t know all the answers!)
Radio and TV News
- On November 23 (Thanksgiving Day) there will be a radio broadcast of one of the last shows of the recent “Dogs With Wings” tour. It will include a live mix of the show — no overdubbing. Check your local radio stations to determine specifics. Produced by Album Network, it will air immediately after Part 3 of the Beatles Special.
- Good Morning America will feature an interview with Tom Petty November 21. Check your local ABC TV stations, 7:00-9:00 a.m. The interview was filmed backstage in New Orleans.
- ABC In Concert will air a TP&HB retrospective November 24 (Part 1) and December 1 (Part 2) at 1:00 a.m. each night. Check your local TV listings.
- Watch for a Boxed Set Special featuring Playback on VH1, scheduled to run November through December.
- In January, PBS will air a TP&HB Special filmed by Martyn Atkins.
- The Disney Channel rebroadcast Tom Petty: Going Home November 3.
- VH1 rebroadcast TP&HB: God Bless Our Mobile Home on October 15
Two Close Shaves…
- Keen observers of TP&HB facial decorations will have noticed that Tom and Howie shaved off their beards. All the Heartbreakers were clean-shaven again for the second leg of the tour.
On A Sartorial Note
- Great wardrobes this tour, guys! With Tom’s beautiful shirts, cool belts and paisley pants; Mike’s gray pin-striped shirts, tee shirts and purple shoes; Ben’s suits and colorful ties; Howie’s shirts and vests — and everything in-between: hooded tee shirts, jeans, flannel shirts, fringed jackets, great coats … According to a large female contingent of fans … thanks, guys, you looked mighty fine!
- Tom’s “It’s Good To Be King” video was featured on MTV’s Beavis and Butt-head in early October … and they didn’t say it sucked … thanks to Suzanne Peterson for not letting that information slip by us unnoticed!
TP On The Internet
- MCA is setting up an internet address for Tom Petty. This website will begin the week of November 21 and will be available through Christmas. The following is the Internet site:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Official Fan Club
The news we’ve all been waiting for … the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Boxed Set is here! I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a little of the research for Playback, and believe me, all the CDs and the booklet (including a complete band history) are fantastic!
I’ve also been lucky enough to hear the end result — and it’s unbelievable! For you new TP&HB fans, this will give you a complete feel for the band’s tremendous versatility and talent over the years. For those of us who already own all the TP&HB albums and singles — there are still plenty of wonderful surprises. Wait until you hear “Waiting For Tonight,” “Since You Said You Loved Me,” “Turning Point” or “The Apartment Song” with Stevie Nicks! Then there’s “Come On Down To My House,” the very cool “You Come Through” and, the entire song of “Keepin’ Me Alive!” Of course, we also now have the Mudcrutch treasures … including “On The Street,” “Cry To Me,” “I Can’t Fight It,” and, a song that has special value to me, “Up In Mississippi Tonight.” (Gee, do you think maybe I really like all the songs?!?!)
Hmmm … mere words cannot express … you just have to hear these songs! Playback is incredible!
We’ve also got a great contest for you in this issue of the newsletter. Give it a try even if you don’t know all the parts to all the answers … there are lots of cool prizes!
Many of you have written to Tom to ask him about his personal songwriting process. SongTalk Editor, Paul Zollo did a great interview with Tom recently which covers that subject in detail … I thought you’d like to see excerpts of that interview.
… The 1995 tour is over … it was so wonderful … I went to 29 amazing shows in 17 states this tour, and now I’m definitely going through TP&HB withdrawal … To quote a friend of ours, “Too much ain’t enough!” In this issue on of the newsletter I’ve mentioned more backstage and onstage antics … In future issues I’ll go into other details about the last show, Mike and Tom’s guitars, something special about Ben, etc.
Thank you for all your great letters to Tom and the Heartbreakers. Keep writing — They love to hear from you! And a special thanks to those of you who have written such kind words about the newsletter.
I hope this issue of ANYTHING THAT’S ROCK ‘N’ ROLL has something that catches your eye. And don’t hesitate — go out and get your own copy of Playback as soon as you can — you’ll really dig it!
Fan Club Administrator
Belated Happy Birthday
- Martyn Atkins — part of Playback cover design, pages 3, 4; Dogs With Kings design, page 7, photo of Tom Petty , page 8.
- AWest — backstage pass design, page 6; Band Hospitality sign, Page 5.
- Joe Compton — photo of Howie & Dingo, page 6; photo of Tom Petty in concert, 1995, page 7.
- Gay D. Cook — photo of TP&HB circa 1976 on page 1 courtesy of her Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers memorabilia collection.
- Aaron Rapoport — photo of TP&HB circa 1982, page 2.
- All other photos courtesy of Cathy Buffington’s Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers archives.
For information about purchasing Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tour merchandise, send a legal size, self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
P.O. Box 882588
San Francisco, CA, 94188
For legal reasons, please do not send lyrics, poems, tapes or CDs of original music to Tom Petty or the Heartbreakers. These items will be returned to you, not opened, read, or listened to. Thank you!
How To Join The Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Official Fan Club
If you received this newsletter in the mail, you already belong! TP&HB Fan Club membership is offered to all TP&HB fans free of charge, courtesy of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
This newsletter is published at irregular intervals … Please be patient with us. We will try to have other interesting goodies for you in the future.
For anyone wanting to join the Official Fan Club, write to:
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Official Fan Club
P.O. Box 260159
Encino, CA 91426-9998
Don’t forget to send us your change of address if you have moved recently or are planning on moving soon. Be sure to include your old address along with your new one so we can update our records.
Are you interested in being pen-pals with other TP&HB fans? Write in to let us know. Send us your name, address, age and one sentence to describe your musical interests.
Please put “Attention: Pen-Pals” on your envelope to let us know you’ve written about being a pen-pal.
” … Anything that’s rock ‘n’ roll’s fine … “