OTD - Tom Petty & Heartbreakers Release Damn The Torpedoes

On this day, October 19, in 1979 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released their breakthrough album, Damn The Torpedoes.  Get some interesting insight from the band on the album  & see the video that they made for Merv Griffin that ended up getting them heavy airplay on MTV. 
Damn The Torpedoes spend 7 weeks at #2 on the album chart.  One of the longest tenured albums on the Billboard chart stood in it's way.... Pink Floyd 'The Wall'.


A Productive Week
This song was written during the same week as 'Refugee'. Unlike 'Refugee' this song wasn't as hard to get down on tape. It became one of the strengths of Damn The Torpedoes.

Talking Through It
Mike Campbell said, "'Here Comes My Girl' was interesting because we had the chorus and Tom wasn't sure how to do the verse, he kept trying to sing it different ways and he finally came across sort of half-talking it, and that's when the song seemed to come to life."

The Meaning Behind The Song:
During an interview in which he was asked about the song, Tom Petty said, "This was a reaction to the pressures of the music business. I wound up in a huge row with the record company when ABC Records tried to sell our contract to MCA Records without us knowing about it, despite a clause in our contract that said they didn't have the right to do that. I was so angry with the whole system that I think that had a lot to do with the tone of the Damn the Torpedoes album. I was in this defiant mood. I wasn't so conscious of it then, but I can look back and see what was happening. I find that's true a lot. It takes some time usually before you fully understand what's going on in a song - or maybe what led up to it."

Trials And Tribulations
Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell explained difficulties they encountered during the recording process, "That was a hard record to make. It was a 4-track that I made at my house.  It took us forever to actually cut the track. We just had a hard time getting the feel right. We must have recorded that 100 times. I remember being so frustrated with it one day that - I think this is the only time I ever did this - I just left the studio and went out of town for two days. I just couldn't take the pressure anymore, but then I came back and when we regrouped we were actually able to get it down on tape.

Who Covered It Best?
Tom Petty revealed that he thought Melissa Etheridge playing "Refugee" was the best cover he'd ever heard any one do of the song.

From Merv Griffin To MTV
The band didn't want to appear on the Merv Griffin show so they came up with a plan to shoot a video of them playing the song and delivered it to the show. Merv played it and it helped promote their album.  Years later, in 1981, when MTV launched, the video resurfaced and was played heavily. The band's videos for 'Free Fallin' , 'Don't Come Around Here No More', 'Running Down A Dream', 'Last Dance With Mary Jane' and 'Into The Great Wide Open' were all among the most played videos on MTV the year of their release.


Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Refugee

Music video by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers performing Refugee. (C) 1979 Geffen Records