Archive | October, 2017

Certain Songs #1017: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Dogs on the Run”

Album: Southern Accents
Year: 1985

For an album that was originally conceived — and sometimes reviewed as — Tom Petty’s big concept album about his heritage, Southern Accents was a bit of a mess.

Stylistically, it was their most diverse album since the debut, and so even beyond the ground-breaking “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” there were anthemic statements like “Rebels,” forgettable white-boy soul workouts like “It Ain’t Nothing to Me,” heartfelt ballads like the title track, and character sketches like “Mary’s New Car.”

And then there was “Dogs On The Run,” a big old widescreen Springsteen anthem as sung by Petty channelling Bob Dylan and featuring Mike Campbell channeling Roger McGuinn.

Of course, none of that was particularly new for a Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers song, but it stuck out like a sore thumb on Southern Accents; after a half-dozen songs that were trying to expand the idea of what Tom Petty could do, “Dogs on The Run” just blew me away, even if it felt like he was trying a bit too hard.

I fell overboard and washed up on the beach
Yes, let the waves and sand roll over me
I was helped to the home of a young bleached blonde
Who said, “Honey I discovered early in life
There’s ways of getting anything I want”
Some of us are different
It’s just something in our blood
There’s no need for explanations
It’s just dogs on the run

So the lyrics are a bit — maybe even a lot — overwritten. And the music is a bit — maybe even a lot — melodramatic. And Petty’s never been more Dylanesque when he sings “light my cig-uh-RETTES!”

But when the horns — which made “Dogs on The Run” more than just an old-school Petty song —
swell into the end of each verse and Campbell plays his massive hook, it doesn’t even matter.

“Dogs on the Run”

“Dogs on the Run” performed live at 2015

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
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Certain Songs #1017: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Dogs on the Run”

Album: Southern Accents
Year: 1985

For an album that was originally conceived — and sometimes reviewed as — Tom Petty’s big concept album about his heritage, Southern Accents was a bit of a mess.

Stylistically, it was their most diverse album since the debut, and so even beyond the ground-breaking “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” there were anthemic statements like “Rebels,” forgettable white-boy soul workouts like “It Ain’t Nothing to Me,” heartfelt ballads like the title track, and character sketches like “Mary’s New Car.”

(more…)

Certain Songs #1016: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

Album: Southern Accents
Year: 1985

“Hey!”

Unlike the pedestrian “You Got Lucky,” which wed unconvincing synths on the verses to an admittedly anthemic (and yeah, OK, catchy) chorus, the genre-busting “Don’t Come Around Here No More” somehow wed synth-pop, psychedelia, soul and garage rock into something that none of us had ever heard before.

Well, maybe Prince, who was riding high on the cross-pollination of Purple Rain and was just about to release two consecutive albums adding psychedelia to his stew. In fact, Petty even defended “Don’t Come Around Here No More” to his record company by citing “When Doves Cry” as something weird but popular.

Of course, unlike Prince, who made his reputation genre-busting, Tom Petty was savvy enough to do it just this one time, kinda like somebody who dropped acid, had a great time and figured he’d quit while he was ahead.

“Hey!”

Credit, of course, goes to David A Stewart of Eurythmics, who copped the title from something that Stevie Nicks said to the non-evil Joe Walsh, and then provided the both the synth hook and the coral sitar hook that brought you into the song even before Petty opened his mouth. But it was Tom Petty’s sad, resigned vocals that emotionally centered the song.

Don’t come around here no more
Don’t come around here no more
Whatever you’re looking for
(Hey!)
Don’t come around here no more

The cool thing about “Don’t Come Around Here No More” is that it twists and turns, seemingly starting and stopping (“Stop!”) at will, voices and synths and that coral sitar coming and going as they please. There’s also the contrast between the perfectly smoothing backing vocals and Petty’s utter rawness when he sings things like “Yuh tangle mhigh amoooohSHUNS!” and “Who you axpect a meeeee?”

“Hey!”

One of the things I’ve realized in the past week or as I’ve been doing these posts just how much I loved Tom Petty as a singer, and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” is one of his greatest performances, giving what is obviously and proudly a totally artificial construct a human center.

Also helping: the rave-up at the end, one last surprising twist, but also the Heartbreakers reminding you that they are a rock and roll band, with Mike Campbell soaring towards the paisley stratosphere with his wah-wah pedal as the song speeds toward the fade-out.

Fueled by a somewhat disturbing and slightly problematic Alice in Wonderland themed video — the entire direction of which consisted of “hey, can you make a ‘surprised’ face?” — “Don’t Come Around Here No More” made #13 on the Billboard charts, not so much despite, but because it was weird and unexpected and stood out on the radio no matter what the format.

“Hey!”

“Don’t Come Around Here No More”

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” performed live, 1985

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” performed acoustically, 1988

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” performed live, 2006

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #1016: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

Album: Southern Accents
Year: 1985

“Hey!”

Unlike the pedestrian “You Got Lucky,” which wed unconvincing synths on the verses to an admittedly anthemic (and yeah, OK, catchy) chorus, the genre-busting “Don’t Come Around Here No More” somehow wed synth-pop, psychedelia, soul and garage rock into something that none of us had ever heard before.

Well, maybe Prince, who was riding high on the cross-pollination of Purple Rain and was just about to release two consecutive albums adding psychedelia to his stew. In fact, Petty even defended “Don’t Come Around Here No More” to his record company by citing “When Doves Cry” as something weird but popular.

Of course, unlike Prince, who made his reputation genre-busting, Tom Petty was savvy enough to do it just this one time, kinda like somebody who dropped acid, had a great time and figured he’d quit while he was ahead.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1015: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Cracking Up”

Album: Playback
Year: 1984

The third time I saw Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in concert, I didn’t have to drive for hours in the late-summer California heat. Nope, the third time, they came to me.

Well, not me specifically, but Fresno. On April 15, 1983, they played an outdoor show at the CSUF Amphitheater, about a thirty-second walk from the KFSR studios.

Which at that point, was pretty much like playing on my front lawn, given that the Amphitheater was a place I walked through on a daily basis, and I spent more time at the KFSR studios / office / production room than I spent anywhere else. (Including classes, but that was a totally different thing.)

Opening the show was Nick Lowe’s Noise to Go, featuring Paul Carrack — still riding high from being the singer on Squeeze’s “Tempted” and the author of a well-regarded solo album — and while Petty was too big on pretty much every level to be doing college radio interviews, Tim and Dead Air Dave did get to interview Lowe and Carrick on KFSR, just prior to all of us then just walking into the concert like bosses.

Which, for the sake of the story, I’m going to say we did. Though I can’t imagine that I didn’t also buy a ticket, just to be absolutely sure I got to see the show. Because Tom Petty. Who, BTW, was great. I mean, duh.

Anyways, fast-forward a couple of years, and lo and behold, the b-side to one of the Southern Accents singles — “Make It Better (Forget About Me)” — was a cover of Nick Lowe’s “Cracking Up,” one of the best songs on his classic Labour of Lust.

A relatively straight cover, as I’m sure my Rockpile friends would be the first to point out. Mike Campbell retains Billy Bremner’s corkscrew guitar hook, and Howie Epstein and Stan Lynch do a pretty good approximation of Dave Edmunds & Bremner’s “I don’t think it’s funny no more” backing vocal hooks, as well.

That said, The Heartbreakers’ version sounds fuller — thank you, Benmont Tench — and even funner than Rockpile’s version. I mean, Rockpile were a great great band, of course, but they weren’t this great.

And this might just be my way of writing about “Cracking Up” without having to write about four songs from Labour of Lust cos I’m definitely doing “Cruel To Be Kind,” “American Squirm” and “Skin Deep” when I get to Nick Lowe in the next year or so.

In the end, the phone rings, and Petty picks it up and excitedly says “Nick?!” like he just wanted to let Nick Lowe know he’d finished recording his song, but alas, it’s just Jimmy Iovine, who in the Running Down a Dream documentary confessed to calling Petty every day for 400-500 days in a row.

That said, Tom seemed excited to let Iovine know that they’d just finished recording the vocals to “Cracking Up.” It’s one of the few times that the goofy humor that Tom Petty showed in the videos and on his TV appearances actually showed up on a recording.

“Cracking Up”

Nick Lowe – “Cracking Up”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page