I’m in a Heartbreakers state of mind as I prepare to once again hit the open road, destination Nashville’s Sommet Center. I’ll once again team with my faithful Highway Companion 11 as we pursue all the glories of rock and roll goodness that two married white guys on the other side of 30 can find.
This will be my third time seeing The Heartbreakers. My first was in Atlanta on the Echo tour in 1999. I wish I had a set list for that but with all the powers of Google I have yet to find anyone who has it. I had the good sense to track the set list myself when I returned to Atlanta to see them on the 30th Anniversary tour, tangentially related to Petty’s brilliant solo record Highway Companion. Tonight’s show is in support of The Heartbreakers’ first record together in eight years, Mojo and I’m about as excited as I can be.
Throughout my Follow The E Street Band minitour, I documented the set lists played and the songs I hoped and wished for. Many wishes were granted over the course of that journey while some remain unfulfilled for now. I’m not going to go quite as obsessive with my Heartbreakers’ show because Petty doesn’t alter his set list that much over the course of a tour so I’m going to divvy this up just a little differently:
I. Songs I’m Most Excited About Hearing Likely To Be Played (Oldies Division)
- “You Don’t Know How It Feels”
- “Don’t Come Around Here No More”
The closest thing to an Atlanta ’99 setlist I’ve found is one from Philly a week later. He played both of these at that show. I think I remember “You Don’t Know” being played in Atlanta. I don’t recall “Breakdown” at all. While my research suggests I’ve heard these both before, it’s been 11 years. Wildflowers is my favorite Petty record of all time and “Breakdown” is a classic single from his debut record.
I have specific memories of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” from both shows and it was and is still great. That’s not why I’m looking forward to this one, though. 11 is attending his first show and this is the one he most wants to hear. It’s been played every night thus far so he’ll probably get his wish and I’ll be happy for us both.
II. Songs I’m Most Excited To Hear From Mojo
- “Good Enough”
- “I Should’ve Known It”
I really like this new record a lot. It practically recorded live in the studio so I anticipate these translating well live. “Good Enough” is a wandering song with an excellent Tom Petty story and some brilliant Mike Campbell guitar leads. “I Should’ve Known It” is a piss-and-vinegar stompin’ blues-rock number that has great energy on record and I expect will rock even harder live.
III. Longshots, Hail Marys, Fat Chances, & Flat Out No Chance In Hell
- “King’s Highway”
- “Crawling Back To You”
Tom dusted off “King’s Highway” early on the tour and then it got dropped. It’s an underrated masterpiece from an underrated masterpiece of a record Into The Great Wide Open. It’s one of the best songs of his career and is a fan favorite (among those singing its praises are BC sportswriter Jay Newcastle). I’ve never heard it and I’m crossing my fingers that it will find its way back on the set list just one more time in Nashville tonight.
“Melinda” has never been released on a Heartbreakers’ record, at least not in studio form. It was released first on the Soundstage live DVD and has since been issued as part of the Live Anthology box set. It’s a stunning song built on Mike Campbell’s tremolo electric mandolin and extended piano excursions from the great Benmont Tench. It’s a great song that underscores what great musicians The Heartbreakers are and how capable they are of taking a simple song and extending it, allowing it to expand and still remain vital and interesting.
Some of the best lines Tom Petty has ever written come from this gem from Wildflowers. They are lines that have given me so much and helped me to understand the world. I’d love to sing those lines back to him as he sings them to me one day. There’s very little chance of this coming out but a fella can always hope.
I’m counting down the hours… I’ll bring back a full recap this weekend!