Album: Full Moon Fever
Full Moon Fever is so overloaded with classics that marketers for some video game can take the eighth or ninth best song on the album — “Love is a Long Road” — and use it in a video game trailer and suddenly it’s a quasi hit.
And sure, I could write about it and get some of those sweet sweet newshook pageviews — and indeed the Home Office was begging me to do just that — but I’d rather write about the songs that I like better, like today’s entry, the joyfully scabrous “Yer So Bad,” which was the first song written for Full Moon Fever. I mean, if you don’t count “The Apartment Song,” which was written earlier but not specifically for the album.
“Yer So Bad” opens with just Petty singing over his acoustic guitar, with “ahhhhh” interjections from a choir of evil Jeff Lynnes. (Jeffs Lynne?)
My sister got lucky, married a yuppie
Took him for all he was worth
Now she’s a swinger dating a singer
I can’t decide which is worse
At that point everybody else piles in: Mike Campbell playing chiming spidery guitar, Lynne playing the bass and Phil Jones playing a jaunty kick-snare ka-kick-snare rhythm. And yes kids, it’s time for another ridiculously awesome Tom Petty chorus, this one broken into two parts.
The first part is Petty elongating each word whilst floating on that choir of Lynnes.
Buuuttt nooooot meeeeeee baaaaaabeee
I’ve got youuuuuu tooooooo saaaaaaavvvvveeee meeeeeeee
Which is outstripped by the second half of the chorus.
Oh yer so bad
Best thing I ever had
In a world gone mad
Yer so bad
After the first two lines there’s a bit of a pause in the singing where you hear the jaunty drumbeat, over which Petty or Campbell or even Lynne plays a percussive acoustic guitar counterpoint, scratching the song like it’s an itchy hairline, a brilliant combination of totally unnecessary and perfectly realized, and helping distract you from lyrical contrast between that chorus and the verses.
My sister’s ex-husband can’t get no lovin’
Walks around dog-faced and hurt
Now he’s got nothin’, head in the oven
I can’t decide which is worse
And that’s pretty much it for the verses: except for a gorgeous mysterioso guitar solo from Campbell, “Yer So Bad” is all chorus for its entire back half, and why not?
Anyways, “Free Fallin’” and “Yer So Bad” were the first two songs recorded for Full Moon Fever, and they came out so good — with no room for the other Heartbreakers, really — Petty decided to do a solo album.
While it was the first song written for the project, “Yer So Bad” was the final single released from Full Moon Fever, a full year after “I Won’t Back Down” and by that time the ubiquity of the album had led to fatigue, and so while “Yer So Bad” made it to number 5 on rock radio — where ubiquity leading to fatigue has always been a feature not a bug — the pop audience had moved on, and despite the usual witty video, it didn’t in the Hot 100 at all.
“Yer So Bad” Official Music Video
“Yer So Bad” live on Soundstage, 2003
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