Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BQRH #3: "Room At The Top" (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)

Hello, all good people...

Ever since I moved here, I have become more and more emotional. And the songs I have learned to love these past few years have acquired a new meaning. It is definitely the case for the song I bring to you today.

This song is from a member of the extended Beatles family. Tom Petty is best known for his classic rock band, the Heartbreakers, although for Fab Four lovers, he is also one of George Harrison's siblings on the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. And Mr. Petty has also collaborated repeatedly with one certain Mr. Richard Starkey, MBE. (Tom provided vocals to "Drift Away" from Ringo's 1998 album "Vertical Man" and bass guitar to Starr's 1990 version of "I Call Your Name", while Ritchie drummed on a couple tracks from Tom's solo album "Wildflowers" and the soundtrack to the film "She's The One").

This song is called "Room At The Top", from Petty's 1999 album, "Echo". This album came after Petty's divorce from his wife of over 35 years, so it is his equivalent to Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks". I got this album as a birthday gift from my mommy back in 1999 (Note: can you realize how hard is to buy a Tom Petty album in Chile, where nobody knows who the hell is TP? More merit to my loving mom), and it was my first Petty album (besides the Greatest Hits compilation which I already had).

I fell in love with this song as soon as I first heard it, but it didn't get a proper meaning until the first girl I had truly fallen for broke up with me: "I wish I could feel you tonight / Little one, you're so far away / I wanna reach out, and touch your heart". And Petty continues: "Yea, like they do in those things on TV / I love you, please love me / I'm not so bad / And I love you so". This is a specially significant feeling, particularly when your family and friends are so many miles away from you for the first time in your life. One too many first times for one poor soul....

Extra kudos to Petty and his "co-captain", the Heartbreakers' lead guitarist, resident sound engineer and co-producer Mike Campbell, for the arrangement they designed for this track makes an incredible use of changing moods and shifting tempos that make the song switch from a gentle ballad to a barnstorming rocker and then back again to the slow ballad before culminating with the powerful double guitar riffing courtesy of Campbell and 2nd guitarist Scott Thurston. This is not a very complex song, but the results are too effective to be ignored, and Campbell delivers one of the best guitar solos of his career, fitting perfectly the mood of the song. Literally, one of the best songs about loneliness and abandon ever written, in my humble opinion.

Enjoy this live, raw, great version, recorded in Germany during one of the promotional shows for "Echo" in 1999. The Heartbreakers' lineup at this time consisted of Petty on rhythm guitar, Campbell on lead guitars, Howie Epstein (RIP) on backing vocals and bass, Ben Tench on keyboards, Steve Ferrone (who played with George Harrison during his Japanese tour of the early nineties) on drums, and Scott Thurston on backing vocals, guitars and keyboards.

Comments are welcome....

Love, BQ

No comments:

Post a Comment