Posts Tagged ‘Tom Petty’

Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell on his two loves

September 15, 2010

Here’s a fine little piece by my former colleague at the St. Petersburg Times, Sean Daly, on guitarist/producer extraordinaire Mike Campbell, of the Heartbreakers. Nice work, Sean. In my book Campbell is the all-time master of playing EXACTLY what the song needs — no more, no less.

Damn the Torpedoes, a Tom Petty masterpiece

August 22, 2010

Here’s a promo for the new “Classic Albums” DVD, this one on Tom Petty’s third album, Damn the Torpedoes. I especially like the story of the genesis for “Refugee,” which came from a bluesy lick that guitarist Mike Campbell came up with after listening to an old Albert King song.

Hearing Campbell’s lick and chords, Tom Petty came up with the melody and lyrics, an effort “that might have taken 10 minutes,” he says. Classic!

The Traveling Wilburys: a book review

May 7, 2010

In the grand rock tradition of supergroups, none can surpass the Traveling Wilburys. George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne merged several of the 20th centuries greatest musical themes: rockabilly, Beatlemania, ballad rock, folk-rock and arena rock among them.

Unfortunately, the story of how the group came to be — and how they did what they did — has been relatively overlooked in the annals of rock music. That’s why Genesis Publications’ limited edition book “Traveling Wilburys” should be on any serious music lover’s list.

The book, signed by Jeff Lynne, immerses readers into the group and its work with an innovative use of photos, memos, doodles and hand-written lyrics — some reproduced on small memo-pad-sized sheets and stuck between the full-sized pages — culled from the group’s sessions between 1988 and 1990.

The story is told through the voices of the Wilburys, with occasional asides from a few close friends and family, as well as group “side man” Jim Keltner, who provided drums on most of the tracks on the supergroup’s two albums.

Petty, Lynne and Keltner

The stories they tell offer a fascinating glimpse inside the world of these superstar musicians. The group came out of an album Harrison was finishing with Lynne as producer called Cloud Nine. Somehow — the precise explanations vary — Harrison and Lynne began dreaming of putting together a faux group with luminaries like Dylan and Orbison.

Within days, the four, along with Tom Petty, were working on the nub of an idea Harrison had for a song. As Harrison tells the story, after the group recorded the guitar track at Dylan’s home studio, he realized he needed lyrics:

I look behind his garage door and there was this big cardboard box that said “Handle With Care” on it. And that was it. Once we got the title, it just went off. The lyrics were flying around. We could have had 29 verses to that tune, it was brilliant.

Harrison submitted the song to his label as a b-side to his next single, “This is Love,” but both label and artist quickly realized the song was too good for a b-side.

Thus, the Traveling Wilburys was born.

As famous and accomplished as each member was, it is clear that Orbison was considered the true star. As Barbara Orbison said:

Roy might be in the kitchen and George would come down and say, “I have Roy Orbison in my kitchen!” And I would say, “You know, we’ve been here now for three weeks.”

The book also recounts the shock after Orbison’s sudden death after the first album was finished, and days before a video for “End of the Line” was to be shot. They went ahead with the shoot but chose to highlight an empty rocking chair during Orbison’s vocal parts.

The surviving Wilburys went on to record a second album with its idiosyncratic title, “Volume 3.” While its sales were disappointing, a boxed set of the two albums ended up going to No. 1 in Great Britain and No. 9 in the U.S. in 2007.

All in all, The Traveling Wilburys book offers an intimate look at a historic moment in musical history. At $345, the limited-edition book offers no larger meanings or broader context. But it does allow participants, and those closest to them, to tell their tales directly. And those tales deserve to be treasured, as it is unlikely we will see a group like this again.

“Serendipity” — the music video

February 1, 2010

Here is the just-released music video for my song “Serendipity.” It was conceived, shot and edited by the fabulous Elie Gardner of St. Louis. She did a great job, given what she had to work with!

As I wrote last year in a blog post, “Serendipity” was my attempt to say that even a calamity — in this case, a flood — can end up being a positive thing. Musically I was going for a Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne/ELO/George Harrison kind of sound. I recorded it via Sonar Producer Edition, using an Audio Technica 4047 and a Groove Tubes Brick preamp, for all you fellow recording nerds.

And, if by some odd chance you really like the song, it IS available on iTunes or Amazon.


Second song on iTunes, Amazon: Serendipity

December 7, 2009

Photo by Tim Samoff

After some remixing and remastering, my second single, “Serendipity,” is now available on iTunes as well as Amazon.

Unlike “Copy Editor’s Lament (The Layoff Song),” “Serendipity” has nothing to do with the newspaper industry. I wrote “Serendipity” to make the point that some life development that may seem bad — even disasterous — can actually work out for the good. As I explained in this blog post earlier this year, I used flooding as a metaphor for the bad stuff; I wrote the lyrics after some particularly bad rain and flooding in the St. Louis area last year.

Musically, I was going for a Jeff Lynne/Tom Petty/George Harrison kind of sound, with jangly 12-string guitars and some (for me) expansive background vocals on the chorus. For you recording fanatics, I tracked and mixed it in my humble Getting Better Recording studio using Sonar, an Audio-Technica 4047 microphone, a Line 6 Variax guitar, a Hofner-copy bass from Rondo Music, a Groove Tubes preamp and a bunch of plug-ins from IK Multimedia, Line 6, Antares, Cakewalk, etc.

In the end, it still sounds like a Chris Ave song, for good or ill. In any event, I hope you enjoy it!

Here, There and Everywhere: Artists influenced by the Beatles

December 3, 2009

The Beatles’ website just put up Part One of a radio series entitled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” It’s a series highlighting the vast influence of the Beatles on popular music — a topic that would take weeks to truly cover. Part One includes Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Dave Grohl, Cameron Crowe and Ann and Nancy Wilson. Check it out!