Album: You’re Gonna Get It!
. . .
One thing that both of the first two Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers albums had in common was a certain ramshackle quality that is absent from his later music. No doubt this is because they were both produced by Denny Cordell for Shelter Records rather than Jimmy Iovine for MCA records. After Iovine helped the Heartbreakers turn into a well-tooled machine, they really couldn’t go back, despite the occasional attempts over the years.
Which meant that songs like “Hurt,” which kinda meandered into existence and wandered through its arrangement for 3:16, were just gone forever. This, of course, was a conscious stylistic choice — and clearly, the correct choice — but it didn’t mean that there wasn’t charm in a song like “Hurt,” one of two tunes on You’re Gonna Get It! that Tom Petty wrote with Mike Campbell.
“Hurt” fades in with a some random acoustic guitar harmonics and slidey electric guitar figures before Stan Lynch kicks the main riff into existence, which almost drops down into a more randomness as Petty sings the first verse.
I walked to the window, turned out the light
Looked at the city, went back through the night
Yeah, I stood in the darkness, stood all alone
Thank God for California, thank God I’m going home
The whole band then kicks in with the chorus, riding on the main riff they played just before the first verse and breaking down about halfway through to a stop-time part.
That’s right, you hurt me, baby, hurt me good
Hurt me like no one else ever could
Cut me down the middle, face down in the dirt
And we both know it’s too late to save it
Bet you feel proud about it, baby
You taught me how to hurt, that’s right
After that, “Hurt” takes a left turn, as Campbell establishes yet another part, which isn’t quite a solo, and isn’t quite a wordless bridge, but some combination of the two. It shouldn’t make any sense, and probably doesn’t didn’t make any sense the first time I heard it, but that was so long ago, it now makes total sense to me.
Halfway to L.A., red in the eyes
You might be the devil, might just be his friend
It don’t make no difference, you ain’t gettin’ me again
After that, it’s another chorus, and more weird licks from Campbell as “Hurt” fades out, more of an atmosphere than a song. But like I wrote in the entry on “I Need to Know,” a song like “Hurt” — and “No Second Thoughts” and “Restless” to be honest — is why an early review of You’re Gonna Get It! called it “California mystery rock.” Mystery or no, I really loved it at the time, not knowing that these kind of Petty songs weren’t long for the world.
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