Tom Petty Had A Song He Almost Gave To The J. Geils Band
via Nicole / Youtube
The world of songwriting is a fascinating realm where artists create musical masterpieces that may not always find their way into their own repertoire. Even for songwriting geniuses like Tom Petty, some songs have a destiny that lies beyond their own vocal delivery. One such song emerged during the making of “Damn the Torpedoes,” where producer Jimmy Iovine recognized a hidden gem that almost slipped away to the J. Geils Band.
Crafting a Musical Masterpiece
During the late 1970s, Tom Petty found himself entangled in a lawsuit with his record label, requiring him to pour his heart and soul into the crafting of his album “Damn the Torpedoes.” As Petty labored to create what would become a musical masterpiece, producer Jimmy Iovine was astounded by the abundance of excellent songs. He recalled in “Runnin’ Down a Dream:”
“He played me ‘Refugee’ and ‘Here Comes My Girl,’ and I said, ‘You don’t need any more songs.’ I’ve never said that since.”
“Don’t Do Me Like That” Almost Slips Away
Among the treasure trove of songs Petty composed was “Don’t Do Me Like That.” Originally conceived in California with a piano part to the melody, Petty felt that the song was not quite suited for The Heartbreakers. Instead, he envisioned it as a potential fit for The J. Geils Band. Sensing the song’s potential, Iovine urged Petty to finish it with the band, recognizing its hit potential. The band took just a few takes to produce the final version, solidifying “Don’t Do Me Like That” as a major calling card for Petty’s unique rock and roll boogie sound infused with soulful elements.
“He told me ‘it sounds like J Geils to me’ and I said ‘it sounds like a hit to me’.”
A Songwriter’s Journey Beyond His Own Voice
While Petty retained many of his best songs for himself, his path as a songwriter for other artists was just beginning. He later contributed the song “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” to Stevie Nicks for her debut album. However, Petty’s discernment occasionally faltered, as evidenced by his initial dismissal of a Mike Campbell original with a moody backbeat, later transformed into the ’80s classic “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. Despite this, Petty’s knack for crafting timeless tunes extended beyond his own voice, leaving an indelible mark on the world of rock music.