Album: Hard Promises
. . .
We’ve already discussed the friendship between Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks on the entry for “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” but what that entry glossed over was that the song that Stevie Nicks really wanted for her record was the song Petty specifically wrote for her, “Insider.”
You’ve got a dangerous background
And everything you’ve dreamed of
Yeah you’re the Dark Angel
It don’t show when you break up
“Insider” was written by Petty in his home and when he brought it in to Jimmy Iovine, who was producing both Petty’s Hard Promises and Nicks’ Bella Donna — cocaine gives you a lot of energy, folks! — Iovine had Petty cut it there on the spot, added Nicks on the harmonies, and she utterly killed it. Which Petty knew she would, because they’d already been singing together for a couple of years and he loved how their voices blended.
And I’m the one who oughta’ know
I’m the one left in the dust
Yeah I’m the broken-hearted fool
Who was never quite enough
“Insider” is different from “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” in that on on the latter they both sing separately on the verses, and only together on the chorus — making it more of a dialog than a duet — whereas on the former, they sing every single word together, voices evenly matched throughout, especially on the achingly gorgeous chorus.
I’m an insider, I’ve been burned by the fire
And I’ve had to live with some hard promises
I’ve crawled through the briars
I’m an insider
Eventually, Iovine added the rest of the Heartbreakers to the tracks Petty & Nicks had already cut, and “Insider” hit its final form. At which point, Tom Petty confessed to Stevie Nicks that the song meant too much to him to give away — I mean he titled the album after its chorus — and instead of telling him to go fuck himself, she basically said, “right, what else have you got?” The answer, of course, was “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which had already been cut with Petty on vocals, so they just removed Petty and added Nicks to the the track, and the rest is history.
It’s entirely possible that “Insider” was too slow and personal to be the same kind of hit as the dramatic, sweeping “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” was but I will point out that they did cut a video for it, probably on the same day. And while “Insider” wasn’t ever a single, my guess is that would have been, had “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” been anything but the smash it was.
“Insider” Live 2006
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