Certain Songs #1012: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “You Can Still Change Your Mind”

Album: Hard Promises
Year: 1981

$9.98.

That’s $27.92 in 2017 dollars. And more importantly, it’s what MCA — at that point the worst record company in the world (IMHO for how they treated their reissues of the early Who albums) — wanted to charge for the follow-up to the massively successful Damn The Torpedoes. They’d already done it with the most recent Steely Dan album as well as the Xanadu soundtrack, so why not with one of the most anticipated albums of the year?

At that time, the standard list price was $8.98 — still too fucking high, of course, though I could get new releases at Tower for two or three bucks cheaper — and Tom Petty rebelled against his record company, slamming the idea in the press, threatening to call the album Eight Ninety-Eight, and generally being a stubborn dick about it.

And good for him, cos MCA eventually backed down, perhaps realizing that the publicity surrounding the battle would goose sales enough to make up for the $1.00 per album they were “losing,” especially compared to what they’d lose by not putting it out at all.

And of course, I totally appreciated what TP was doing, though it’s not like I wasn’t going to buy it regardless what the list price was. So I snagged Hard Promises on my first payday after it came out (the same day I got Wild Gift, so good day), and it eventually became my favorite Tom Petty album, even though it had (gasp!) two ballads on the second side. One of which, of course, was the Stevie Nicks duet, “Insider,” and the other was utterly gorgeous “You Can Still Change Your Mind,” probably my favorite of all of his slow songs (unless you count “Free Falling” as a slow one, which for some reason, I don’t.)

With Benmont Tench playing a slow two note drone over a quiet slide guitar and sleigh bells, Petty is quietly begging for a textbook happy ending.

But you can still change your mind
You can change your feelings
You can still change your mind

Stevie Nicks is also on this one, but only to toss in some background vocals and the tiniest bit of response on the bridge. But musically, it’s mostly Benmont Tench, providing that piano on the verse, and on the bridge, an almost happy-sounding overdub that plays around Nicks’ vocal, and at the end, a couple of pretty runs.

It’s a pretty sparse song, riding on the emotions of Petty’s vocal, and he sounds like a man who is pretty sure that no matter how much he asks, she’s not going to change a damn thing.

Fan-made video “You Can Still Change Your Mind”

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