Album: Bella Donna
. . .
I’m pretty sure everybody knows the story of this song, but just in case, it goes like this: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were recording Hard Promises with producer Jimmy Iovine — who had helmed their breakthrough Damn The Torpedoes — and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was one of the songs they recorded but decided on to put on the album.
By this time, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty were already really close friends — a friendship that started in the late 1970s and lasted until Petty’s death (which still fucking sucks, by the way) — and in fact, Petty wrote “Insider” for her album, but it ended up on Hard Promises. Meanwhile, the story goes that Nicks wanted Petty to produce her solo debut, but he recommended Iovine, and Nicks and Iovine hit it off so well that they were living together after a couple of weeks. Cocaine is a helluva drug.
Anyways, somebody realized that “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” would be a perfect duet for Petty and Nicks, and using the Heartbreakers’s previously-recorded backing track — with Duck Dunn on bass instead of Ron Blair — they fashioned a duet that worked perfectly for a song that opened with a dramatic crescendo and almost instantly rode Mike Campbell’s slinky guitar lines and Benmont Tench’s sly keyboard fills.
Baby, you’ll come knocking on my front door
Same old line you used to use before
I said yeah, well what am I supposed to do?
I didn’t know what I was getting into
But of course, the true power of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” came every single time Nicks and Petty sang together:
Baby, you could never look me in the eye
Yeah, you buckle with the weight of the world
Stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my
Stop draggin’ my heart around
While the dramatic stop-time by the Heartbreakers at the end of those choruses most definitely helped, there was something about the combination of Petty’s nasalness and Nicks’s rasp that was utterly undeniable. And over 40 years later it seems weird that they only recorded three songs together, the third one being “I Will Run To You” from Nicks’s 1983 album Wild At Heart. Then, except for live performances, that was pretty much it.
Tim & I got to see one of those live performances, just as “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was climbing the charts. It was September 6, 1981, at the California State Fair in Sacramento, and the things I remember most about it were that it was as hot as fuck and Stevie Nicks came out and they did excellent versions of “Insider” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
The story goes now that “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” got a boost from MTV — it apparently was the 25th song MTV ever played — but I don’t think that MTV had enough reach that early on to make something huge: instead “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” became huge on both Top 40 and AOR stations, eventually topping out at #3 in the Billboard Hot 100. Which was the highest that either Petty or Nicks — outside of the context of Fleetwood Mac, of course — ever charted.
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” Official Music Video
“Stop Draggin My Heart Around” Live 2006
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