Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Inside Look at Tom Petty's Mojo

There are fifteen songs on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' forthcoming June 15 release Mojo - their first record in eight years - but the 59-year-old rock legend is nervous about some of them.

"The challenge is getting people to hear the record," Petty told Poison Ivy at an intimate listening party at Germano Studios in New York's Soho neighborhood Thursday night.

"Radio stations don't play [entire] records," Petty elaborated.

There may be a lapse in the radio format, but after hearing Mojo in its entirety - on Germano's fantastic 5.1 Surround Sound system - we'd like to advise them to make an exception.

Mojo opens in true heartland fashion - with scattered chords and shout-outs ("That's impressive!" Petty offers before track one even begins). Check out a track listing, along with Poison Ivy's take on each song, below.

1. "Jefferson Jericho Blues" - A wailing guitar tremors through this fast-paced blues anthem that Petty will perform on Saturday Night Live this weekend. Petty has found a seat directly across from me in the dimly lit recording studio. He has on a suede navy jacket and a pair of barely penetrable sunglasses. Beside him are his wife, Dana York, manager, Tony Dimitriades, and several band and crew members.

2. "First Flash Of Freedom" - Here's the single. Not the song you'd pick out out of a lineup, with its ethereal tone and flighty flashbacks: "We felt so much more than our hearts could explain." Petty is bobbing his head.

3. "Running Man’s Bible" - A nomadic, mid-tempo highway track with a somber quality: "I don't speak of the times I've nearly died," Petty sings.

4. "The Trip To Pirate’s Cove" - Keeping on the somber, melodramatic theme, here's a tune about a lost love. "She was a part of my heart/now she's just a line in my face." Petty takes a big sip of whiskey.

5. "Candy" - A playful, child-like song you want to sing along to. Sample lyric: "I sure like that candy/I don't go for them turnip greens... I don't drink Coca Cola. But I sure like an old moonshine." Petty's laughing. A blunt is lit.

6. "No Reason To Cry" - A heartfelt love ballad. Petty gets up and is walking around the room.

7. "I Should Have Known It" - Here's a bat-out-of-hell, Zeppelin-esque rager we'll be singing for weeks: "And now it's over/now you see/that's the last time you gonna hurt me."

8. "U.S. 41" - Rootsy, traintrack ballad that could have easily soundtracked There Will Be Blood. Petty looks somber. Big inhale.

9. "Takin' My Time" - The opening drum line on this song is no different than "Bad to the Bone." For a minute you even think he's going to cover it. "When I was a little boy/honey my fuse was lit/yes it was." Sex track.

10. "Let Yourself Go" - "When time's are hard and you start feeling lone, let yourself go." Here's a memorable, tambourine-encrusted, lounge-y song.

11. "Don’t Pull Me Over" - This is the first time Petty smiles in the entire two-hour session. It's a Bob Marley-inspired Bohemian jam about marijuana reform. Petty grins for a few seconds before the cryptic melody begins. "Don't pull me over, Mr. Policeman. What I've got to do won't hurt anymore. Don't pull me over... Should be legalized."

12. "Lover’s Touch" - "She's got the lover's touch." Not the strongest wolf in the pack.

13. "High In The Morning" - Here's a wise Petty talking to what seems like a younger, less wise Petty: "Boy that power belongs to the devil. Leave it alone... It hurts my heart/to see a young man fall/hurts me to the bone. To see him high in the morning/and by the evening, see him gone."

14. "Something Good Coming" - Slow, optimistic track, and Petty wants to explain himself. "I'm an honest man," he pleads. "I know so well the look on your face."

15. "Good Enough" - Petty seals the deal with the love story about a girl that rarely hears no. "If she marries into money/she's still gonna miss me. And that's gonna have to be good enough."

A wild applause erupts following the session, and Petty thanks us with a fist pump.

"Shit yeah I'm happy," he says, when I ask if he's pleased with the finished product.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Nat! Hi Tom! Both of you are brilliant! Tom, Mojo is the best record the Heartbreakers have ever done. Freedom is a great single. Even Bugs Bunny and Warner founder Jack Warner would be Proud. Mr. Petty, you just made a masterpiece because the Heartbreakers are what rock & roll is about! Keep Rocking Nat. Much love and thanks, Leo Rabbit

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  2. Is this real? "A blunt is lit." Sounds like an attempt to make Tom seem "cool".

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