Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Filtering by Tag: Tom Petty

Record Night Returns: the Recently Departed

Music fans everywhere have been ruminating for a while about how difficult these next twenty years are going to be, as our rock and roll heroes leave Planet Earth just in time to avoid the developing catastrophe that will be the latter half of the 21st Century.  But upon further reflection, we really don’t have to wait to feel the pain because the last decade has already been rough.  I hadn’t realized the extent to which we’ve lost our musical brothers and sisters until last week, when Record Night festivities resumed at the Wall of Sound in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.  A dubious crew gathered to honor those artists who died within the last decade.  Songs were celebrated, drinks were consumed, and mistakes were made, as noted below.  But even avoiding the obvious casualties – Michael Jackson, David Bowie, George Michael and Tom Petty (until the very last song) – there were a staggering number to choose from.  True, we reached pretty deep with some of these, but that’s what makes these types of outings fulfilling. 

Without further ado, celebrate with us as we pay homage to the recently departed.  My apologies for any errors.

Southern Nights – a twofer tribute of singer Glen Campbell and songwriter Allen Toussaint.  We also played a bit of God Only Knows, which was unfortunate
Massachusetts – Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees
Glory Days – Clarence Clemons of the E. Street Band (though, sadly, no saxophone on this song!)
Fool for the City – Craig MacGregor of Foghat
Drown in my Own Tears – Pat Dinizio of The Smithereens
It’s the Singer Not the Song – Jimmy Jamison of Survivor
I Was a Teenage Werewolf – a twofer of Lux Interior of the Cramps and producer Alex Chilton
Beyond Belief – producer Geoff Emerick for this Elvis Costello and the Attractions song
Starrider – Ed Gagliardi of Foreigner
Dreams/Zombie – Dolores O’Riordin of The Cranberries

It should be noted that in the midst of these record selections, one could hear Kevin uttering while checking Google, “That sucks!  I thought he was dead!”  Such is the competitiveness of song selections on record night.

Peaceful Easy Feeling – Glenn Frey of The Eagles
Home and Dry – Gerry Rafferty

This has been my favorite song for the past two weeks.  I’ve played it perhaps twenty times and figured out the unusual chord pattern on the piano.

Creep – Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots
Thank You For Being a Friend – Andrew Gold
Say It Isn’t So – John Spinks of The Outfield
The Cover of Rolling Stone – Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
Touch and Go – a twofer of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake of – in this case – Emerson, Lake and Powell
Knocking at Your Back Door – Jon Lord of Deep Purple
Burning Bright – Roger Ranken of General Public
20th Century – Shawn Smith of Brad
Saturday Night – Alan Longmuir of Bay City Rollers
Looking Around – a twofer of Peter Banks and Chris Squire of Yes
Love at First Feel – Malcom Young of AC/DC
God Only Knows (again!) – this time with Daryl Dragon of Captain & Tennille
Snortin’ Whiskey/Boom, Boom – Pat Travers
Call Me a Dog – Chris Cornell
Flying Cowboys – producer Walter Becker for Rickie Lee Jones
Livin’ Thing – Mike Edwards of ELO
Queen of the Night – Whitney Houston
Be Like That – Matt Roberts of Three Doors Down
People are Strange – Ray Manzarek of The Doors
Think – Aretha Franklin
Might Mighty – Morris White of Earth, Wind & Fire
Ride My Seesaw – Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues
I Go Crazy – Nick Marsh of Flesh for Lulu
In the Dead of Night (Presto, Vivace and Reprise) – a twofer of Allan Holdsworth and John Wetton of UK
I Can Feel Your Heartbeat – David Cassidy

Note: Paul thought it was 10cc!

To Be With You – Pat Torpey of Mr. Big
Getting Closer – producer Phil Ramone for Billy Joel, who was playing not 30 minutes away at Miller Park
Space Station #5 – Ronnie Montrose of Montrose
Jammin’ Me – Tom Petty

That was all we had time for, but there were others we could have chosen, most notably the aforementioned superstars, but I was ready to go with George Martin productions, songs co-written by Jerry Lieber, Chuck Berry, etc. were it not for a two hour drive home awaiting me.

There will be more heroes to fall, as there must be.  Hang on tight, music fans.  It’s going to be a rough ride.

So long, Tom Petty

My earliest memory of Tom Petty is watching the Heartbreakers perform “Change of Heart” on Saturday Night Live in 1983. The anger of this song spoke to me. Even as a 15 year-old, I sensed that the ladies didn’t exactly dig me, and a lyric that said – in essence – “Screw you, I’ll be fine without you” felt might satisfying to a brooding teenager, not to mention that as an aspiring keyboardist I dug the sounds of Benmont Tench, always tasteful, never overplaying.

Two years later, while washing dishes at Seigo’s Japanese Steakhouse in Brookfield, Wisconsin, a strange song with a sitar, synth drums, and the inimitable twang of Tom Petty came on the radio, as the band had switched gears with “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” A few months later my buddy Jim and I attended his show at Alpine Valley (with Til Tuesday opening) and yes, the Southern Accents tour featured a horn section and a huge Confederate Flag that seem incomprehensible and tasteless in hindsight, but for an ignorant 17 year-old the power of the show hit home. “Hey, hey, hey. I was born a rebel.” Fuck, yeah. I left the concert feeling empowered and emboldened…and then I got my first speeding ticket from the Wisconsin’s finest on the way home and learned that I was anything but.

Flash forward two years, and Petty was back at Alpine Valley (I believe with the BoDeans opening, my buddy Kurt in attendance with me), and the satisfying vitriol was back with my favorite Petty song of all time – “Jammin’ Me.” Yeah, man. “Give ‘em all someplace to go.” Few words were more satisfying to my young-adult self. 

I didn’t see Petty perform again until 2003 at the intimate setting of the Vic Theatre in Chicago. Petty had aged and mellowed somewhat and I had aged and mellowed somewhat, now a father of three. Allow me illustrate by sharing my two most vivid memories of that show:

1)      Petty saying something like, “This one’s for those who are no longer with us,” before playing “Handle With Care.” By then, Roy Orbison and George Harrison were gone, and just a few months earlier bassist Howie Epstein had died as well. It was a somber moment.

2)     Me wishing to God that the encore would end because my feet were killing me after standing for about four hours on a concrete floor.

Yep, the vitriol was gone, and now all I wanted was some Advil and a good night’s sleep.

I’d lost track of most of Petty’s releases over the past few decades. I paid modest attention to Wildflowers and never got back on the bus, but there’s no denying the fact that the Heartbreakers fed the soul of my youth.

So long, Tom. Rest in peace.

And to music fans everywhere: brace yourselves. Petty, Bowie, Prince, Emerson, Lake, Michael...these are only the beginning. It’s going to be a rough, rough ride.

Does It Matter How a Record is Made?

Watching Peter Bogdanovich’s extremely thorough yet watchable documentary on Tom Petty, Runnin’ Down a Dream, I was struck by something Petty said about his work in the early 90s, during which he and producer Jeff Lynne began to use the studio as an instrument and recordings became less about a live performance. "I like whatever makes good records," he said. "I don’t care how it’s made. Nobody cares how a record is made. They care if they like it or not.”

I’ve thought about this quote often as I struggle mightily to complete my current album and employ studio tricks that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago. Yesterday I wanted a cymbal where there wasn’t any recorded during my day-long studio session in late February, so I simply copied a cymbal from one section of the song and pasted it onto another section. On the same song, I noticed that several of the notes I sang were slightly out of tune, so I simply shifted key notes into tune. As for the acoustic guitar I’m currently recording, this I have to do section by section, and sometimes measure by measure, as my playing is so poor that I can’t complete an entire verse or chorus without accidentally deadening a string or striking an unwanted open string. Even my piano tracks – definitely my best instrument – needed a little tweaking, as yesterday I erased an erroneous low note that was clashing with the bass part.

Clearly, I’m not recording a live “performance.” Is this cheating?  Does it matter if it is?  Is Tom Petty correct that nobody cares how a record is made?

In his illuminating book, Here, There and Everywhere, Geoff Emerick writes about late-night sessions during which Paul McCartney would record bass parts over and over until he had the perfect track. Impressive, though I've no doubt that were Emerick recording The Beatles today, he would splice together various bass tracks to create one usable one. Is one technique more pure than the other? Does it matter?

For Tom Petty and The Heartbreaker’s first several albums, they would track everything live at once until they had a perfect take, effectively rehearsing until they got a great performance. This is in stark contrast to the recording of Into the Great Wide Open, during which a musician like Benmont Tench would be asked to play a particular keyboard part during a few measures of a song, and then leave the studio.

On his recent interview on the radio show Sound Opinions, Geddy Lee of the band Rush discussed recording the album Hemispheres. The band initially tried to perform the ambitious side-long title track in its entirety, but ultimately had to record it in sections. Does this fact make the recording any less impressive?

Even Steely Dan, who employed arguably the best musicians on the planet to play on the album Gaucho, used recording tricks to the get the sound they wanted, as producer Roger Nichols created a drum machine called a Wendel to perfect drums parts initially recorded by the likes of Jeff Porcaro! 

Clearly, even getting past today’s largely sterilized recording techniques, we can come up with multiple examples of musicians and producers doing whatever it took to get the sound they wanted.  But is Petty correct when he says nobody cares how a record is made?

I suspect it depends on the listener, on the band, on the era, and on the circumstances. For guys like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, who get to play with the greatest musicians known to Man, I like to think that the albums they record are more performance-based and less studio-trickery, and I would hope that studio guys like Steve Gadd and Michael Landau would insist upon it. And part of the joy of listening to, say, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, is knowing that I’m listening to a live performance. Something would surely be lost if it came to light that “So What” had been recorded track by track. 

It's also kind of sad that our ears have gotten used to hearing perfection, because there was a time when the performance was more important. Keith Richards’s fuzz guitar errors on “Satisfaction” can be heard loud and clear fifty years after the song was recorded. Would the song be any better if it had been recorded in 2015, when no doubt Richards would have rerecorded the guitar part (or, more likely, would have recorded the tune several times and then spliced together various parts for the perfect take)? Do the mistakes take away from the song, or somehow make it more endearing? I don't know.

For now, I continue to plow through what has been a somewhat grueling recording process and attempt to make the best-sounding record I can using the resources available to me. And some of those resources are digital. The Palisades will be complete by summer’s end, and God-willing, it’s going to sound great thanks in large part to modern technology. I’ll take this over a bad-sounding "authentic" record any day.

Maybe Petty has a point.

Record Night - The End of New Wave

Record night traveled south last Friday to the Heinz household, allowing for ping-pong, barbecue and s’mores, but music was still front and center.  Kevin attempted to answer the question: what happened to new wave, when did it end, and what did it morph into?  He came prepared, even going month by month from October of ’85 into 1986 to illustrate what was happening musically at that time (our senior year).  Turns out there was more going on than the classic rock I was listening to.  Go figure. 

John brought a 45 grab bag.  We primarily stuck to the following rule: grab a 45 without looking and play the B-side.  By this method, we heard some of the worst Tom Petty songs ever recorded.  Also, the “no Pink Floyd” rule was also broken for the first time.

Paul’s theme was pick any song he felt like playing, resulting in the first Carpenters song ever played on record night, and neighbor Kevin came to offer a few selections as well. 

Without further ado, here’s the list.  Note that we warmed up with a few tunes prior to beginning the various themes. Forgive any typos or erros.

Kevin                    Stevie Nicks                       Voilet and Blue

Kevin                    Peter Gabriel                     Walk through the Fire

Paul                      Tom Petty                          Rebel

John                      Buddy Holly                        Not Fade Away

John                      Falco                                   Auf Der Flucht

Kevin                    ABC                                      How to be a Millionaire (beginning the theme, 10/85)

Kevin                    Kate Bush                           Running up that Hill

Kevin                    Dream Academy               The Party

Paul                      Graham Parker                  Discovering Japan

John                      Queen                                 Radio Gaga (A-side)

Kevin                    Arcadia                               Goodbye is Forever

Paul                      Everly Brothers                 Love Hurts

Paul                      Everly Brothers                 Cry, Sigh, Almost Die

John                      Bruce Springsteen            Shut out the Light (B-side of Born in the USA)

Kevin 2                 BoDeans                             First side of Outside Looking In

Kevin                    Dokken                               In my Dreams

Kevin                    Motley Crue                       Too Young to Fall In Love

Paul                      Producers                           She Sheila

Paul                      Rolling Stones                   Miss You (12 inch disco remix)

John                      Rolling Stones                   Emotional Rescue

John                      Elvis Costello                     Veronica

Kevin 2                 Alison Moyet                     Resurrection

Kevin                    Level 42                              Something About You

Kevin                    Falco                                   Vienna Calling

Kevin                    Art of Noise                       Peter Gunn

John                      Rod Stewart                       I’m Losing You

John                      Supertramp                        Rudy (B-Side of Take the Long Way Home)

Paul                      Fleetwood Mac                 Beautiful Child

Paul                      Fleetwood Mac                 Gypsy

Kevin                    Chameleons UK                Mad Jack

Kevin                    REM                                     Superman

John                      Rolling Stones                   All the Way Down (B-side of Undercover of the Night)

Paul                      Led Zeppelin                      Celebration Day (live version)

Kevin                    Ministry                              We Believe

Paul                      Simple Minds                     Up on the Catwalk

Kevin                    Peter Gabriel                     Ga Ga and Walk into the Fire (B-sides of 12 inch Red Rain)

John                      Pink Floyd                           One of my Turns (B-side of Another Brick in the Wall)

Paul                      James Taylor                     That Lonesome Road

Kevin                    Billy Idol                              Don’t need a Gun

John                      Tom Petty                          Heartbreaker’s Beach Party (B-side of Change of Heart)

John                      Tom Petty                          Change of Heart

Paul                      The Carpenters                 Goodbye to Love

Kevin                    Peter Murphy                    Bauhaus

Kevin                    Sigue Sigue Sputnik          Love Missile F1-11

Paul                      Stevie Wonder                  You Haven’t Done Nothin’

John                      Tom Petty                          It’s Raining Again (B-side of Refugee)

Paul                      Supertramp                        It’s Raining Again

Paul                      Supertramp                        Crazy

Kevin                    The Cure                             Just Like Home

John                      Supertramp                        Just Another Nervous Wreck (B-side of Logical Song)

Paul                      Elton John                          Sweet Painted Lady

Kevin                    Elton John                          Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved