S1E14 Dog on the Run

Dallas Heliker
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (with John Paulsen)


Length: 9:57 - Release Date: November 17, 2021

I hope you enjoyed last week's chat with the marvellous Dallas Heliker! I'm looking forward to having more guests on the show but I know I'll be chatting to Dallas again at some point.

If you want to listen to Dog on the Run before this episode, you can find it here: https://youtu.be/3KaZBwsSLqE

Today's episode covers the live rarity, taken from 1977's Official Live 'Leg, recorded at the legendary Paul's Mall in Boston, Dog on the Run. An epic 10-minute experimental jam, this one features some extraordinary performances from every member of the band. Thanks to Paul Roberts for pushing me to cover this one in sequence, rather than once I've been through the rest of the catalogue, when I will be circling back to B-sides, previously-unreleased material etc.

This wraps up season one and next week we'll be diving straight into the sophomore album, You're Gonna Get It and digging into the lead song, When The Time Comes.

If you want to check out the "Denny Cordell pseudo-edit" I created of this song you can listen to it below and contrast and compare


(* Note - the transcript is as-written before recording. I usually change a few sentences or words here and there on the hoof as I'm speaking.)

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, my fine friends. Welcome to the fourteenth and final episode of season one of the Tom Petty Project podcast (NOTE FROM KEV: As John Paulsen and I went back and did an album wrap, this was no longer the last episode in the season). As always, I am your host, Kevin Brown! Today’s episode is a special bonus episode covering a song that disappeared and is pretty much known only to the diehard Pettyheads. A studio recording of this one has never surfaced so we have to assume that one doesn’t exist. I won’t always be unreleased songs in sequence, but listener Paul Roberts was keen for me to include a review of it as it sits between the debut album and You’re Gonna Get It on a live promo album named Official Live ‘Leg.

The song in question is called Dog on the Run. Not to be confused with the also excellent Dogs on the Run, from the Southern Accents album. The song clocks in at a whopping 9 minutes 37 seconds, but it’s well worth listening to the entire thing because it’s unlike anything else Tom wrote or recorded in his career. As always, there’s a link in the episode notes for you to go and listen, then once you’ve done that, come back and listen to episode! 

Recorded at Paul’s Mall in Boston on December 12, 1976, one of the bands earliest gigs, there’s not a ton of information available about this song, which gives it an enigmatic angle that none of the songs I’ve covered thus far have. The song only appears on the Official Live ‘Leg single-sided promo LP. There were two versions of this released, one in the US and one in the UK (where it was called The Official Live Bootleg). The track listing on the UK version includes The Wild One, Forever in addition to the four tracks that are on the US version which are Jaguar and Thunderbird, an old Chuck Berry song, Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It), Luna, and the song we’re talking about today, Dog on the Run. The US version trades for around $100USD right now and the UK. 

The song was a fairly regular in the live set from 76 until 1980, but from 1981 on, it sank without a trace. It’s hard to say why the song was dropped and if I ever get to speak to one of the original lineup, I’ll definitely ask them about it. My suspicion is that because Breakdown also became a more extended jam type song when it was played live, that they didn’t need two of those, and the eclectic nature of the structure of the song just maybe didn’t quite gel with the other songs they more regularly played in their setlist.

The main guitar lick has a heavy, swampy, almost ZZ Top feel to it out the gate, think Sharp Dressed Man, but it then breaks into a more Stonesy vibe in the chorus. So a blues-drenched rocker that borders on that sort of Hawkwind-type early British Heavy metal at times too.

Stan’s drums sound really heavy and cool. He’s playing some super neat double time stuff around the bell of the cymbal. He’s also not easing off during the main part of this song and laying down a pretty ferocious, heavy drum track that acts as the foundation for an equally heavy guitar track.

Around the three minute mark we get a great breakdown when it goes to drums, bass, and keyboard chugging in the background, with parts dropping off and the guitars just accenting. At 3:40ish, Benmont comes in with some tasty electric piano as Stan picks up the pace to a double time disco-esque beat and Ron arpeggios all over the chord progression. It’s virtuoso bass work, the likes of which you almost never get on a TPATH studio recording. Mike adds in some really cool muted, echoey guitar. At the five minute mark, the drums fall away and it’s all about Ben’s piano, with everything else just sitting in the background in a sort of 70s prog rock shape. It falls into a really trippy 60’s type Woodstock vibe at this point and Ben has some cosmic synth sounds which shift to a minor key, which Mike slides and bends his guitar around and adds an ethereal, otherworldly texture to.

At about 7 minutes, the tempo starts to lift again and Stan rocks it up and we get the main riff coming in nice and heavy again. 

Also has a really jam band structure to the song;verse chorus solo, verse chorus solo, long extended bridge - verse chorus solo. And what that does is give every band member the space to really flex their muscles and show what they can do. To pull off a track like this, live, this well really shows how polished and well-rehearsed the Heartbreakers were really from day one. 

It’s a pretty straightforward song lyrically, with the girl Tom’s singing about either not reciprocating his affections, or not treating him properly. “You’re tryin to keep my livin like a dog on the run”.  There is one gloriously Tom Petty line in there too though; You’re livin in a high rise tryin to stay low”. Again, that cadence is really similar to I Need to Know and I’d be curious to find out if he borrowed that phrasing for the later song. Vocally, it’s a pretty staggering performance from Tom. Considering this is one of the earliest Heartbreakers gigs, his delivery and attack is already locked into that zone he would often use when he was portraying his anger at some kind of injustice. Solid throughout.

During the American Girl episode, I asked you which Tom Petty solo or Heartbreakers album is the only one that does not feature a single songwriting credit other than Tom, with all songs written by Tom and Tom alone? The answer is 2006’s Highway Companion, which would be the final solo album that Tom released. As well as having this unusual songwriting distinction, Highway Companion also has the leanest personnel listing of any Petty album, with all instruments played by Tom, Mike, and Jeff Lynne.

Given we’re talking about a ten minute song today, this week’s question is this; What is the longest recorded track on a Heartbreakers or Solo studio album?

OK, Back to the song! 

The way the song settles into that extended improvisational section and then explodes back out of it again is super cool. If this were one of the songs they actually recorded during the debut album sessions, you can guarantee that Denny would have insisted on removing that entire middle part as well as at least one of the solos. I think you could cut that down to a fairly tight 3 minutes but it would be a very, very different song without the experimentation and variety of tone and rhythm that we get from it. You’d also lose that release and rebuild of tension, which is a crucial part of what makes the song so good. 

What’s almost comical is that when the song is over, with such drive and energy, and attitude, the applause is clearly coming from a very, very small crowd, which is just deliciously incongruent with the experience you were just put through. The recording is surprisingly good for a live show in a small venue that wasn’t exactly designed to capture great audio.

I’ll admit that this was a song I was really unfamiliar with until fairly recently so thanks again to Paul Roberts for making me go back to it and give it another few listens before sitting down to record this episode. It truly is a killer jam and a song that must have been amazing live. I’m going to give Dog on the Run a really solid 7 out of 10. There’s just something about it that really hits my music bone hard. It has such a strange dynamic to it, such a great rhythm section and some of the best keyboard slaying on any TPATH song that I have ever heard. 

Well, that’s all for season one folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show so far and as I’ve said previously, I really appreciate the kind words I’ve received through social media and directly. Thanks again to my guests for season one, Jon Scott and Dallas Heliker. Don’t forget to check out tompettyandme.com to find Jon’s awesome memoir, and go check out beeroftheday.com and the beer of the day podcast, which is a fantastic craft beer podcast curated and run by Dallas.


Petty Trivia

QUESTION: What is the longest recorded track on a Heartbreakers or Solo studio album?

ANSWER:  The answer is, First Flash of Freedom, from 2010’s blues-drenched epic, Mojo. Debuting on February 26th, the song was one of the two that the band streamed on their website four months before the album itself was released. At 6 minutes 53 seconds, the song tops the band’s list of songs that last more than 6 minutes. The other three are Shadow People, the last track on Hypnotic Eye at 6 minutes 37, Echo, from the album of the same name, clocking in at 6 minutes 36, and Running Man’s Bible, also from Mojo, which sneaks over the 6 minute mark by 2 seconds.



I have to either find a good copy of the lyrics or sit down and transcribe it as I can't actually find a good source for lyrics on this one.