Posts Tagged ‘Tom Petty’

She's the One

When asked for a song to include in writer-director Edward Burns‘ romantic comedy She’s The One,  Tom Petty responded with an entire album. Though nominally a film soundtrack, the Warner Bros. collection stands proudly with the singer-songwriter’s best work of the 1990s. Cut with producer Rick Rubin and the ever-reliable Heartbreakers, Songs and music from “SHE’S THE ONE” has a relaxed feel and eclectic mix of material (including Beck and Lucinda Williams covers) that give the impression Petty was really enjoying himself. Which doesn’t mean his customary craftsmanship is absent; the dozen originals include such terrific songs as “Climb That Hill” and single “Walls (Circus),” which features guest vocals from Lindsey Buckingham. Released in 1996, SHE’S THE ONE is an album sometimes forgotten but well worth rediscovering.

The album was not mentioned on the four-hour documentary Runnin’ Down a Dream, though Petty could be seen doing a studio session of the song “Angel Dream (No. 4)”.

Some songs were originally recorded for Wildflowers and were put on this album to fill it out. When In April 2015, when Tom Petty’s back catalog was released in High-resolution audio, this was one of only two albums not included in the series (the other being Wildflowers).

There are two songs on the disc that Petty chose to record and release in two different versions. The first is Walls which kicks off the album with its Beatles- and Byrds-inspired psychedelic version, aptly titled Walls (Circus). The version appearing later in the disc is more barren and Dylan-esque in nature. The second song to appear twice is Angel Dream. Both versions borrow a page from the Simon and Garfunkel book. The first to appear is more like the Bridge over Troubled Water era, while the later version borrows from the Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. era. One of my favorites on this disc is Hung Up and Overdue which borrows heavily from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album.

Most notable on this disc is Petty’s merging into a pattern similar to Neil Young’s. His Heartbreakers are like Young’s Crazy Horse, and his sound blends from solitary acoustic music to all-out feedback-laden rockers. It certainly keeps things fresh with the stark contrast between the styles and seems to fit Petty as well as it fits Young.

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American Treasure, is a 60-track box set featuring previously unreleased live and studio material from Tom Petty, will be released on September. 28th. The songs on the collection are reportedly drawn from all phases of Petty’s career with his longtime band the Heartbreakers.

Full details including a complete track list are expected to be announced soon. The news was revealed today on Petty’s SiriusXM radio station, along with the debut of the first track from the box set, 1982’s previously unreleased “Keep a Little Soul.” American Treasure was reportedly compiled by Petty’s daughter Adria, his wife Dana, Heartbreakers guitarist and keyboardist Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench and “studio collaborator” Ryan Ulate.

After the countdown clock emerged this morning, many fans speculated that the news would be concerning the release of a double album version of Petty’s 1994 record Wildflowers. He had originally intended for the album, his second solo effort, to be a double album, but, at Warner Bros. request, he scaled it back to a single disc.

In 2014, it was reported that a set expected to be called Wildflowers: All the Rest, that restored the complete track list, was in the works to coincide with the album’s 20th anniversary. Only the song “Somewhere Under Heaven” has officially surfaced, appearing during the closing credits of the Entourage movie.

He was planning to support the release with a unique tour. “I want to take the Heartbreakers and whoever else I need to reproduce every sound in a big way,” he had said. “That album was really about sound in a big way. I would like to go out there and perform the entire album as it was originally conceived with all of the songs.”

“That would have been smaller-scale, away from the hits,” guitarist Mike Campbell later added. But he said that the plan, to which Norah Jones had signed on, was scrapped in favor of a career-spanning trek to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers. Unfortunately, Petty died a week after the last date of the tour, a September. 25th show at the Hollywood Bowl.

Tom Petty‘s family and former collaborators compiled the four-CD box set of previously unreleased material by Petty and the Heartbreakers, for release on September 28th, SiriusXM announced. The release, called An American Treasure, marks the first posthumous album of Petty material since his death in October. The SiriusXM broadcast debuted a clip from one of the unreleased songs from 1982 called “Keep a Little Soul.”

An American Treasurewill contain previously unreleased studio recordings, live recordings, deep cuts and alternate versions of popular Petty songs,. The collection will encompass 60 tracks in total. A less expensive two-CD set will also be available for purchase.

Petty was as prolific as he was talented. During the Eighties and Nineties, he released albums at a rapid pace. His studio productivity dipped slightly in the new millennium, when he put out an album roughly every four years. The last album Petty released under his own name was 2014’s Hypnotic Eye. He also contributed to 2016’s Mudcrutch 2 with members of his pre-Heartbreakers band.

TomPetty - An American Treasure D2C pack shot Image

Petty was found unconscious at his home in Malibu on October 2nd, 2017. He was taken to the hospital and put temporarily on life support. He died hours later.

In January, a medical examiner ruled that the singer died of an accidental overdose. Petty had been prescribed drugs to treat emphysema, knee issues and a fractured hip, according to a statement from his family. “On the day he died, he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break,” Dana and Adria wrote. “It is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his overuse of medication.”

After we lost the iconic rocker Tom Petty. The 66-year-old died of cardiac arrest. In his memory, a new tribute collection called “An American Treasure” features previously unheard recording and live performances. Anthony Mason spoke to Petty’s daughter, Adria, in her first TV interview since her father’s death.

1              Surrender           Previously unreleased track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sessions-1976
2              Listen To Her Heart         Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA-November 11, 1977
3              Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll      Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA-November 11, 1977
4              When The Time ComesAlbum track from You’re Gonna Get It!-May 2, 1978
5              You’re Gonna Get It       Alternate version featuring strings from You’re Gonna Get It! sessions-1978
6              Radio Promotion Spot    1977
7              Rockin’ Around (With You)          Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -November 9, 1976
8              Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)       Alternate version from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-1976
9              Breakdown         Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA-November 11, 1977
10           The Wild One, Forever  Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-November 9, 1976
11           No Second Thoughts      Album track from You’re Gonna Get It!-May 2, 1978
12           Here Comes My Girl       Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions-1979
13           What Are You Doing In My Life  Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions-1979
14           Louisiana Rain    Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions-1979
15           Lost In Your Eyes              Previously unreleased single from Mudcrutch sessions-1974
CD 2
1              Keep A Little Soul             Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions-1982
2              Even The Losers               Live at Rochester Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY-1989
3              Keeping Me Alive            Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions-1982
4              Don’t Treat Me Like A Stranger  B-side to UK single of “I Won’t Back Down”-April, 1989
5              The Apartment Song      Demo recording (with Stevie Nicks)-1984
6              Concert Intro     Live introduction by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
7              King’s Road         Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
8              Clear The Aisles                Live concert announcement by Tom Petty, The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
9              A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
10           Straight Into Darkness   Alternate version from The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA-May 5, 1982
11           You Can Still Change Your MindAlbum track from Hard Promises-May 5, 1981
12           Rebels  Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions-1985
13           Deliver Me          Alternate version from Long After Dark sessions-1982
14           Alright For Now                Album track from Full Moon Fever-April 24, 1989
15           The Damage You’ve Done            Alternate version from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) sessions-1987
16           The Best Of Everything  Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions-March 26, 1985
17           Walkin’ From The Fire    Previously unreleased track from Southern Accents sessions-March 1, 1984
18           King Of The Hill  Early take (with Roger McGuinn)-November 23, 1987
CD 3
1              I Won’t Back Down          Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA-February 4, 1997
2              Gainesville          Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions-February 12, 1998
3              You And I Will Meet Again            Album track from Into The Great Wide Open-July 2, 1991
4              Into The Great Wide Open          Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena-November 24, 1991
5              Two Gunslingers              Live at The Beacon Theatre, New York, NY-May 25, 2013
6              Lonesome Dave               Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers sessions-July 23, 1993
7              To Find A Friend               Album track from Wildflowers-November 1, 1994
8              Crawling Back To You      Album track from Wildflowers-November 1, 1994
9              Wake Up Time  Previously unreleased track from early Wildflowers sessions-August 12, 1992
10           Grew Up Fast    Album track from Songs and Music from “She’s the One”-August 6, 1996
11           I Don’t Belong   Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions-December 3, 1998
12           Accused Of Love              Album track from Echo-April 13, 1999
13           Lonesome Sundown      Album track from Echo-April 13, 1999
14           Don’t Fade On Me           Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers-sessions-April 20, 1994
CD 4
1              You And Me       Clubhouse version-November 9, 2007
2              Have Love Will Travel     Album track from The Last DJ-October 8, 2002
3              Money Becomes King    Album track from The Last DJ-October 8, 2002
4              Bus To Tampa Bay            Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions-August 11, 2011
5              Saving Grace      Live at Malibu Performing Arts Center, Malibu, CA-June 16, 2006
6              Down South       Album track from Highway Companion-July 25, 2006
7              Southern Accents            Live at Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL-September 21, 2006
8              Insider  Live (with Stevie Nicks) at O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL-September 21, 2006
9              Two Men Talking              Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions-November 16, 2012
10           Fault Lines           Album track from Hypnotic Eye-July 29, 2014
11           Sins Of My Youth             Early take from Hypnotic Eye sessions-November 12, 2012
12           Good Enough    Alternate version from Mojo sessions-2012
13           Something Good Coming             Album track from Mojo-July 15, 2010
14           Save Your Water              Album track from Mudcrutch 2-May 20, 2016
15           Like A DiamondAlternate version from The Last DJ sessions-2002
16           Hungry No More              Live at House of Blues, Boston, MA-June 15, 2016

Chris Martin of Coldplay

An outpouring of grief swept the music industry at the passing of Tom Petty , as it was confirmed that Tom Petty died from a cardiac arrest at the age of 66.

The emoting continued at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., as Coldplay held a minute of silence for the passing of a rock ‘n’ roll legend. They followed the silence with a cover of “Free Fallin’” as they were joined by Peter Buck of R.E.M.

The band joined figures from all over the industry in expressing their sadness at Petty’s passing.

Watch fan-shot videos of Coldplay and Buck’s performance

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Father John Misty offered up probably the most poignant and thoughtful tribute to Tom Petty with a soulful rendition of his “To Find a Friend” from the iconic Wildflowers record.

Performing at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, AZ, Josh Tillman took some time to pay homage to the late singer-songwriter with a solo acoustic version of the song.

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Tributes to departed American icon Tom Petty have been pouring in since his death on Monday. Jeff Tweedy and company’s faithful rendition of the Hard Promises hit became a cathartic sing-along at the Music Factory. The world was still reeling from Petty’s death Monday following cardiac arrest at the age of 66.

Last night at the Irving Music Factory in Irving, TexasWilco showed their love with a faithful cover of Petty’s “The Waiting,” the lead single from 1981’s Hard Promises and Petty’s first ever No. 1 single on the U.S. Rock Charts. Nine more would follow: “You Got Lucky,” “Jammin’ Me,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Free Fallin’,” “Learning to Fly,” “Out in the Cold,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” (Incredibly, Petty never scored a Top 5 single on the regular U.S. Charts, with “Free Fallin’” reaching as high as No. 7 in 1989.)

On Monday, Wilco also posted this video of them playing Petty’s “Listen to Her Heart” way back in 1995.

Photo: Allyce Andrew

An offering of praise for the late great master. Hey beautiful people,
I tend to be pretty quiet about celebrity deaths… but I’ve got some words about this one. 

I was raised on Tom Petty. Trapped in the car on long family road trips, his music made me feel colors. His songs felt like peepholes into a great wild world I knew I would one day be exploring myself… and he gave some good pointers. Every time I hear those records, no matter where I am or what’s going on, I feel as though I’m in the company of a dear old friend.

More than just being obviously one of the greatest songwriters ever, Petty was a rebel with a cause who took several bold and very public stands for what he believed in, resisting record label executives who wanted to use him as a pawn in their game. If you haven’t seen “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” the epic Heartbreakers documentary directed by Peter Bogdanovich, I highly recommend it!

To honor the life and death of this super rad being, on the night of his passing, I recorded a live video of my cover of his song “You Got Lucky.” Best Wishes Johanna Warren.

Initially following its release, the album received little attention in the United States.  But Following a U/K tour, it climbed up the UK album chart and the single “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” became a hit in the UK. After nearly a year and many positive reviews, the album reached the U.S. charts, and eventually went Gold.

It’s a great American rock album with beautifully constructed songs and a passionate vocal from Tom Petty.
It runs in at a little over 1/2 an hour so it is slightly short by today’s standards but the music there in is wonderful.
Before I mention the songs individually , I should say that there isn’t the searing guitar overload of a live performance, in that the solos are short and not as stand-out in the mix.
Live, there was more emphasis on soloing but the songs are rock ‘n’ roll works of art and this is an album that you can’t tire of.
Luna, is a beautiful ballad, is my favourite song of the album and I would say that it is a unique song , part blues, part lullaby , with a beautiful organ melody that you’ll never forget.
huge anthemic track American Girl is a joy and the guitar solo at the end is a piece of magic,
The Wild One Forever and Mystery Man are beautiful , gentle songs with melodies to die for.
Throw in Fooled Again, Breakdown and Strangered in the Night et.al. and you have one of the best albums ever made. Wonderful stuff !.

The singles “Breakdown” and “American Girl” became an FM radio tracks that can still be heard today.

The album was recorded and mixed at the Shelter Studio, Hollywood, California.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

It’s about an hour before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre for what may be the last time. Backstage, Petty is in his dressing room putting on a frontier rebel’s headdress to fight the chill. Keyboardist Benmont Tench is tweeting about the sad state of our country under Donald Trump. Bassist Ron Blair has battled stage fright for years since rejoining the Heartbreakers in 2002, after a 20-year sanity break. He wanders into Tom Petty’s dressing room and cops to something you’re not likely to admit to your bandleader unless you’ve known him for 40 years. “I’m kinda nervous, you know,” says Blair in a quiet voice.

Petty rarely describes himself as the leader of his band, but as “the older brother they sometimes have to listen to.” Tonight, he gives Blair some fatherly assurance and a toothy Southern smile: “Let me be nervous for you.”

The band takes the stage and blows through “Rockin’ Around (With You),” the first song on its self-titled first album, from 1976. Petty ends the next few songs strumming in front of the drum set, trading man-crush smiles with drummer Steve Ferrone (Tench jokes, “They should get a room”). Petty even grins through a joyous version of “Walls,” from 1996’s She’s the Onean album he’s complained about for nearly 20 years.

And then there’s a flash of lightning. Rain pours down. The Heartbreakers are shooed into the catacombs of Red Rocks, and 9,000 fans head for cover.

As the bandmates wait out the rain, Petty asks if they want to add their 1999 song “Swingin'” to the second half of the set. Everyone agrees: They do. The Heartbreakers aren’t a democracy, but more of a benevolent dictatorship. This is true when it comes to the set list. “We can make suggestions,” says Tench with a wry smile. “Sometimes they’re even accepted.”

After 20 minutes, the Heartbreakers retake the stage. They play “Swingin’,” which has a chorus where Petty lists icons who “went down swinging,” including Sonny Liston and Sammy Davis. Tench, who sings with Petty on the song, switches it up. Epstein provided the beautiful high harmonies on the record, so Tench sneaks in a tribute to his departed friend: “He went down swingin’/Just like Howie Epstein.”

Petty is supposed to do some acoustic numbers from Wildflowers, his 1994 solo album. There’s just one problem: His guitar is dead, soaked by the rain. There’s confusion and uncertainty on the band mates’ faces for a moment, like it’s a 1975 show at a honky-tonk in Gainesville. Then Petty and Campbell shout across the stage, “Ben, play something!”

Tench, the best keyboardist in American rock, breaks into a pastiche of boogie-woogie, a homage to pianist Pete Johnson. The group chimes in, not quite in sync, until Petty switches to Chuck Berry’s “Carol.” The Heartbreakers fall in line, sounding like the best bar band you don’t want to tell your friends about.

They encore with “American Girl.” The bandmates take a bow, wiping sweat and rain off their faces. Everyone exits, but Petty seems reluctant to leave. He takes a few steps toward the front of the stage and gives a last wave.

One word Petty and the band never mention: retirement. Petty still goes into his Malibu home office to write songs  right across from his home studio. He’s mostly a homebody, rarely even venturing the 45 minutes into Los Angeles unless it’s to see his two daughters and his young granddaughter. There was a Mudcrutch tour last year and a turn producing a record for former Byrds bassist Chris Hillman. The Heartbreakers will record again and play live in some capacity. After 40 years, it would be surprising if there weren’t a few regrets. “Howie should’ve gotten some lead on a record,” Tench says of Epstein. “He should’ve produced a record for the Heartbreakers. I would’ve loved that.” Then he shrugs. “But I’m not in charge.”

There’s been a valedictory feel to the Heartbreakers‘ 40th-anniversary tour, which Petty says is the band’s final country-spanning run – the “last big one.” Everyone else is a bit skeptical. “I’ve been hearing that for 15 years,” says guitarist and original Heartbreaker Mike Campbell. “We’ll see.”

The crowds are still there, something Petty is clearly proud of when we sit down in a hotel room on an off day. To be honest, he looks more jittery offstage than on. This may be because he is chain-smoking, alternating between Marlboros and vaping, perhaps as a concession to the Denver Ritz-Carlton’s smoking policy.

Petty says sleep is now his friend. “I need a new Netflix show, does anyone have any suggestions?” he asks just before his assistant ducks out of the room. Someone suggests Bloodlinea noirish series set in his native Florida.

Petty is defiant about the hyper pace of the tour, which hits 30 cities this spring and summer. “Unless you’ve done it, you can’t understand what it is,” says Petty, brushing his scarecrow hair out of his face. “And if you’re not really experienced, you will fall.”

What keeps the Heartbreakers together is simple: The band has been their life since 1976.  Benjamin Montmorency Tench III, was a prep-school kid and piano prodigy. Tench wears suits and went to Exeter, but he’s the fiery one. In the Peter Bogdanovich documentary on the Heartbreakers, 2007’s Runnin’ Down a Dream, Tench can be heard screaming at his bandmates to take things seriously. His nickname is Mad Dog. When Tench used to go on one of his tirades, a roadie would slide a dog bowl of water under his piano.

Petty, Campbell and 
Tench formed the nucleus of the band Mudcrutch,
which morphed into the
 Heartbreakers in 1976,
 after adding San Diego native Blair on bass and 
Stan Lynch on drums.
 Blair fried out and
 bailed in 1982. He opened a bikini shop in the Valley and was replaced by Howie Epstein, but the band loomed in his subconscious. “I’d dream I’d be walking to the stage, and be like, ‘I don’t know “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,”‘ recalls Blair. “I had half a dozen of those nightmares, so I started learning those songs so I could get a night’s sleep.”

This proved fortuitous when Epstein died of heroin-related complications in 2003. “I don’t think the band continues without Ron,” Tench tells me. “Bringing in someone new wouldn’t have worked.”

“About 20 years ago, we stopped doing soundchecks,” says Petty. “It eats up the whole day and we’d argue, and then you’d come back and the sound would be completely different with a crowd.”

The other game-changer was Dylan. By 1986, the band had toured relentlessly for a decade. Off the road, everyone was a mess – some members dealing with substance issues, some just dealing with real life. “The road and the studio are the only places I’ve ever felt completely OK,” says Petty, lighting another Marlboro. “In any other life situation I’m terribly retarded.” Petty got a call from Dylan asking if the band would back him on a tour. Petty raced out a “hell, yes.” Watching footage, you can see him smiling his head off, ecstatic to not be leading the show. The experience taught him how to be in the Heartbreakers, not just lead them. “That’s when we learned how to really be a band,” says Petty.

 

One word Petty and the band never mention: retirement. Petty still goes into his Malibu home office to write songs  right across from his home studio. He’s mostly a homebody, rarely even venturing the 45 minutes into Los Angeles unless it’s to see his two daughters and his young granddaughter. There was a Mudcrutch tour last year and a turn producing a record for former Byrds bassist Chris Hillman. The Heartbreakers will record again and play live in some capacity. After 40 years, it would be surprising if there weren’t a few regrets. “Howie should’ve gotten some lead on a record,” Tench says of Epstein. “He should’ve produced a record for the Heartbreakers. I would’ve loved that.” Then he shrugs. “But I’m not in charge.”

I cannot really say too much as I was a huge Petty admirer Really extremely Sad News, As LAPD issues a new statement saying they are now unable to confirm the death of Tom Petty I cross my fingers. He was found not breathing after a full cardiac arrest and placed on life support. It would be nice to think that he got to the gates of hell and they sent him back because he was better off with us.

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Gloria (Them song) coverart.jpg

 

The song “Gloria” is built on just three chords that any garage band can play and that almost every garage band has. Yet the list of artists who have covered this tune include many bands Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, David Bowie, R.E.M., Iggy Pop, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello..even. Bill Murray strapped on a guitar and played it at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival, the Grateful Dead used to jam on it, and it might be the only song that Jon Bon Jovi and Johnny Thunders have in common.

How has such a minimal song have had such a huge impact? Why does it still reverberate today, in arenas, at festivals, in bars and studios? And how did Gloria become such a resilient classic rock tune. Written more than fifty years ago by Van Morrison for his band Them , the story the song tells couldn’t be more archetypal: the singer (usually but not always male) knows this girl and he’s eager to tell us about her, but he doesn’t share much in the way of detail. She comes down the street, up to a room, knocks on a door, enters, makes the singer extremely happy.

She is, nearly all the time, about five feet, four inches tall (on the original demo, she was five feet). As physical descriptions go, that’s at once very specific and very incomplete. Dark-haired or light, curvy or slender, who knows? At just about midnight, she appears. There is, we can assume, something sensual about the way she moves, because the song itself slithers with an air of hypnotic mystery, those three chords (E-D-A) setting the scene.

The Shadows of Knight, version clocked in at a tidy two and a half minutes, but that was too constricting for other groups like the Hangmen, the Blues Magoos, and the Amboy Dukes, all of whom easily exceeded the five-minute mark and turned it into early psychedelic-rock classic.

On the debut studio recording by Them, Van Morrison takes the listener into his confidence, and it’s a little like bragging, He wants to tell us about his baby (on the demo, she’s his “gal”), but aside from her head-to-the-ground measurement, he doesn’t tell us much more. She makes him feel good. Also for some reason, he feels compelled to spell out her name before he says it, “G-L-O-R-I-A,” as though it were something exotic or complicated. so she does whatever she does with Van, and instead of describing what that might be, he spells her name out again. He wants to make sure we get that name right, This woman who’s about five feet, four inches, and her name is G-L-O-R-I-A.

“Gloria” was cut at Decca’s studio in West Hempstead in the summer of 1964, the first Them session. Them had been doing the song live for a while in Ireland clubs, but from all reports, they were not the most adept musicians in the studio, so the producer brought in some ringers, and here’s where the saga of “Gloria” gets a little fuzzy. It’s pretty clear from the audio evidence—compare the demo’s sluggish drumming to the finished studio version—that London’s top session drummer Bobby Graham was recruited. Graham told an interviewer for the Independent that Morrison “was really hostile as he didn’t want session men at his recordings. He calmed down but he didn’t like it.” In addition to Graham, The guitar playing was none other than Jimmy Page , Page: “It was very embarrassing on the Them sessions. With each song, another member of the band would be replaced by a session player…Talk about daggers! You’d be sitting there, wishing you hadn’t been booked.”

There’s something so compelling about the record, the rawness, the sudden startling instrumental leap midway through, Morrison’s intensity, the erotic momentum, the flurry of drums at the end. It was the sexiest thing. And it was stuck on a B-side, It was the flip side of Them’s second U.K. single “Baby Please Don’t Go In England, “Baby Please Don’t Go” charted at numer 10. In America, it was released on Parrot Records, But it was  “Gloria” that got a bit of attention, it was like that with “Gloria” it wasn’t a hit, but all around the world, local bands who discovered it found a Holy Grail. How many group rehearsals everywhere began with “Let’s try ‘Gloria’?” If you hadn’t been playing guitar for very long, this was an instant entry-level classic, and if you were playing gigs and didn’t have many songs in your live arsenal, you could stretch out on “Gloria” for a while, just keep that going. If you had a kid on Vox organ in your combo, it sounded even better.

 

Part of the brilliance of “Gloria” is in its vagueness and ambiguity. It feels explicit, but that’s a trick. The whole song is an ellipsis. Gloria the object of desire, someone who makes it all so easy: she comes up to your room, raps at your door (at a Bottom Line gig years ago, T Bone Burnett compared her knock to the drum beat of Al Jackson Jr. from the M.G.’s), no pining, no scheming. we don’t know if Gloria’s night ends satisfactorily.) The narrative is a sketch, but over the years, some of its interpreters have felt compelled to flesh it out. Leave it to Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix to make the goings-on considerably more graphic. It was a part of the Doors’s set since their early days on the L.A. club circuit (you can hear how the dynamics of “Gloria” got appropriated for the “Light My Fire” climax, the American Morrison went much further in his on-stage embellishments, some of which came out officially on posthumous Doors releases. He addresses Gloria directly, and sometimes there’s a predatory creepiness: “Meet me at the graveyard, meet me after school.” On one released version, he yells, “Here she is in my room, oh boy!” and for nine minutes it’s like a cautionary after-school special: her dad is at work, her mom is out shopping, and he’s giving her instruction: “Wrap your legs around my neck/Wrap your arms around my feet/Wrap your hair around my skin.” He continues  “Hey, what’s your name, how old are you, where’d you go to school?” What’s her name? Is he missing the whole point of this song? here.

Not to be outdone, Jimi Hendrix, on a slamming off the cuff version with the Experience from October 1968, also asks her name she replies (he says), “It don’t make no difference anyway…You can call me Gloria.” Is she a call girl? (That would explain the midnight knocking.) A groupie? More likely. Hendrix mentions that Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding also have “Gloria”s, and there is some kind of “scene” going on that involves the arrival of a pot dealer and, subsequently, the police. “Gloria, get off my chest,” Jimi says. “We gotta get out of here.” Meanwhile, he’s playing some amazing guitar, and Mitchell is just on fire, and the song is a long way from its beginnings with Them.

The song still belonged to Van Morrison, who has had a notoriously ambivalent relationship with some of his earlier hits, but he has almost always stuck with “Gloria” it’s on his landmark live album “Its Too Late To Stop Now”, and he’s revisited it over and over through the years, on record with John Lee Hooker, live with U2 (who not only have done Morrison’s version, but wrote their own song called “Gloria”) and Elvis Costello, on TV with Jools Holland’s big band. But in 1975, Patti Smith found a way to radically reinterpret it by incorporating it into the lead track from her debut album “Horses”. The cut is in two parts, the first part “In Excelsis Deo” starts off with a stark statement of intent  “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” and keeps building and building until Smith through a window, sees a “sweet young thing,” and she’s transfixed. It’s almost unbearably tense, the way Patti’s group coils around the melody, the rising excitement in her voice. It’s midnight (naturally: that’s when this always happens), and the woman comes up the stairs in “a pretty red dress” and knocks on the door, and you don’t even realize it, but the song is sneakily turning into Van Morrison’s: Patti asks the girl’s name. “And her name is…and her name is…and her name is…G…” you know the rest. With this performance, Patti’s done two things. She’s made a breathtaking breakthrough that’s completely new, and connected it with rock tradition (her guitarist Lenny Kaye is steeped in the era of “Gloria,” and compiled the essential garage-rock collection Nuggets). It was a tremendous cultural moment.

Nothing has been able to stop “Gloria” because the song is whatever it needs to be. It’s remained a rock staple. Iggy Pop  has done it live  (and singing “I-G-G-Y-P-O-P”), Joe Strummer’s pre-Clash band the 101’ers had it in their repertoire and so did Bon Scott’s group the Spektors,  On his 1978 tour, Bruce Springsteen often would include it as part of a medley with “She’s The One” and sometimes “Not Fade Away.” R.E.M. was performing it in the eighties, and so was David Bowie, in conjunction with his own “The Jean Genie” .

Some more recent live interpretations stand out. Rickie Lee Jones starts to play it, and after about a minute and a half, it turns into a reminiscence. The band keeps on riffing on those three chords, those chords that give the singer all the freedom in the world to amplify, to comment, to reflect. “I was twelve when this song came out,” she says, “and I have never forgotten, I would never forget, that’s why I will never get old, what it felt like to me as he described this [and here she pauses] girl.” “I’m gonna shout it all night, gonna shout it every day,” the song goes, and if you were around twelve years old when it came out, as Rickie Lee was, or you were more like fifteen or sixteen, as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty were, that shout of ecstasy was something that made possibilities open up for you. And that’s why Springsteen (who introduced it at a 2008 show by saying “Bring it back to where it all started! Follow me boys!”) and Petty can’t stop going back to it. It probably was where it all started, in their nascent rocking days.

Tom Petty makes it almost like a prequel. It became a set-piece for him and his band the Heartbreakers in the late nineties, played the song several times on his Highway Companion Tour in 2006, and he closed most of the shows with it during his twenty-night run at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco in 1997.  Up to this century, and there are versions floating around, from German TV, from Bonnaroo, where he unspools a story about walking on an uptown street and approaching this woman: “Don’t walk so fast,” he tells her. “I’m a true believer and I loved you at first sight.” She spurns him, she bolts (in one version, she tells him he smells like marijuana), and he’s getting nowhere.

Like Springsteen in the song “Rosalita”  he plays the only card he has. “I got this little rock and roll band,” he says. “Things are going good.” We don’t know what happens, ultimately, except this: all he wants to know is her name, this tiny shred of information. And suddenly, he hears it. Not from her, but from the wind. The wind began to sing her name. At this point, Petty’s audience knows what its part is, and the band has been patiently waiting for this eruptive moment, and like a huge gust of wind, the name rises up from the crowd, louder and louder: “Gloria!” Because even five decades after she first appeared, there’s no one anywhere who doesn’t know who she is, and the power she has.