S2E1 When The Time Comes

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (with John Paulsen)
You're Gonna Get It


Length: 12:31 - Release Date: November 24, 2021 -

Hey folks! We're back for season two and I'm happy to be moving onto the second album, You're Gonna Get It. Today's episide looks at the lead track from that album, When the Time Comes.

If you want to listen to the song before you listen to the episode, you can find it here: https://youtu.be/ykCmB_ZlI68

I mentioned a slight similarity that I hear to Eight Miles High by The Byrds, which you can find here: https://youtu.be/J74ttSR8lEg and also mentioned a live version from March 7th, 1980, recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. The song was part of the encore that night and you can find that version here: https://youtu.be/0GRh_d2-uTo


(* 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 back for Season Two of the Tom Petty Project Podcast. I am your host, Kevin Brown! And that’s Brown without an E, so not like the great Jackson Browne who needs his E. I don’t need no stinking E! Anyway, sorry about that, I do get carried away sometimes. This is the fifteenth episode of the podcast so far (not including the trailer) and I’m happy to have all of you along for the ride. Today we are cracking the seal on a new album, The Heartbreakers’ sophomore effort, You’re Gonna Get It. The album charted at #23 in the US and features a couple of songs that would eventually end up on The Greatest Hits record. But we’re not talking about either of those songs until Side Two of the record. Today, we’re listening to and talking about Track One; When The Time Comes.

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 I’ll give you my thoughts on the song! Back so soon? Are you sure you went and listened to the song? You wouldn’t lie to me now would you??? OK, I believe you. Let’s dig into it!

In the liner notes of the Playback box set, Petty remarks that When The Time Comes reminds him of the days of the new wave and he goes on to joke in Conversations with Tom Petty that it “might have started the new wave”. Of course the new wave was a blanket term for basically any post-punk music of interest, particularly bands from New York’s infamous CBGB music club. So the fit with what the Heartbreakers were doing is tenuous at best and something that always seemed to amuse Tom, who simply identified with rock n roll more than anything else. The track is another one which, despite being played, even as the show opener, on the You’re Gonna Get It tour and up until around 1980, 

When that heavy guitar comes in on the left channel, to my ear it has a really similar quality to Suffragette City by Bowie, but Tom’s tone is beefier and more cutting than Mick Ronson’s and you have Mike’s chugging guitar in the right channel that gives way to clean, shimmering treble when the rhythm section comes in after four bars. Now, I’m assuming that it’s Tom playing that left channel part and Mike the right, only because the right channel is more lead than rhythm, but there really isn’t particularly a lead guitar part in this one. The guitars just hold the song together and let the vocals and the rhythm section add in the colour changes.

You get a good tension early on in the verses in this song and what builds that tension is that progression which is E, G6, F#m7, E, but is then anchored by Ron’s walking bass just keeping the E root in place This is also what that muted 2nd guitar is doing on those first four bars, just keeping that floor level. And when Ron comes in, he adds some solid, simple little runs up that E scale, but never drops into the chord progression with the guitars.

So we get an intro of 4 bars with no drums or bass, then 4 bars with the that rhythm section coming in. So a really short, 8 bar intro, after which, we’re into the meat of the first verse. It’s an arrow-straight 8 bar verse which then breaks into the major key chorus to lift that ominous darkness that’s hanging over the song to this point. That release feels like the sun coming through the clouds and lifts the song into a much more positive space. 

Heading into the second verse we have the introduction of Benmont’s organ part, which we also do hear very, very quietly in the chorus, but is brought up to add a lead back into that second verse. The verse goes back into that same chorus and as we build back out, Benmont is again matching Ron’s position sticking on the E to give that chord progression more weight. If those parts also stepped down through that E, D, Db, B root change, you’d lose that atmosphere that it builds. Whenever Benmont is playing anything through this song, it’s just accentuating that root E note in the verses predominantly. 

The middle eight switches up the chord progression, changing key to A and working its way around to C#minor for four bars. We then get a neat little songwriting trick coming back out of this section as we after the 8 bar phrase, we add a couple of bars onto the end to let the bridge hang for a beat longer and to go back to B and lead us back into the original key for the verse again a little more naturally. We then get another verse and chorus in the familiar pattern. Once we come back out of the last chorus back in the progression that opens the song, we get some more, higher-pitched keys and it’s almost like a single E, like, E6 almost, hammering out 8ths into the fade.

Playing it fairly straight, but there’s a cool little snare fill leading into the first verse. The fill into the second is a neat little double kick repeat that again, adds something to the song without really getting in the way of anything. Just shows that you don’t need to fly around your toms of crash the cymbals heavily to add an accent to the rhythm. Coming out of the bridge, we then get some hat lifts and some floor toms mixed fairly low which come around again during the outro. So really good variety of fills from Stan on this one. The song is quite repetitive in terms of the chord progressions and the base melody so it’s good to have those little fills and phrases coming in from Stan. Complimenting this is Ron’s outstanding bassline. Even though he’s playing off that root E through the verses, he’s adding some great fills of his own to round out the sound. Whether he’s playing between that octave E, or adding in those short runs and slides, he’s doing the same thing that Stan is doing and filling in the space left by the guitars, which are really just holding down a very simple, straight pattern. The other neat thing that Ron does is, during the chorus, which is just A and E with a B thrown in, he’s going A up to E up again to A then back down to E, back down to A. Then he alternates that a little. It’s a cool little hook to again just add a simple thing to create some movement within the steady structure of the song.

Tom sings this one pretty straight, doesn’t sneer or snarl, doesn’t belt, just hands the lyrics on a straightforward melodic framework. The lead vocal has plenty of reverb on it but I think it also might be double tracked, to give that real depth. It’s a restrained, wonderfully melodic vocal track that closely matches the guitar’s chord changes throughout the entire song. 

Time once again for some Petty Trivia! In last week’s Dog on the Run episode, I asked you what is the longest recorded track on a Heartbreakers or Solo studio album? 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.

Today’s trivia question is this: Which song, from Full Moon Fever, was most frequently the Show Opener on the Strange Behavior tour?

Anyway back to the song!

Lyrically, again this is a simple song. Tom is telling his lover that he has her back no matter what and he wonders if that loyalty and dependability is going to be reciprocated. It’s a common theme through rock n roll and Tom has written about similar themes over the years. As with the melody, it’s simple and catchy. “Will you stand by me when the time comes” will most definitely stick in your head after you’re done listening to it.

To be honest, though I can see the new wave comparison, however tongue in cheek, as Elvis Costello could have stolen this lick too (while our tongue is in our cheek), but to me this is a song that has a Byrds-esque feel to it with that atmospheric progression in the verses that remind me a little of Eight Miles High. It also has those wonderful gentle third harmonies and a very clean vocal delivery. Again, what I find really interesting about this song is that melodically, the guitars, keyboards, and the vocals are really played straight, kept really simple with the movement in the song coming from that rhythm section, and predominantly, Ron’s bassline. It’s a super interesting choice too for the lead off track on the album. Again, with the huge hits that we have on Side Two, it’s a bold move to open with something like this, but in my mind, it’s a more natural album opener than Rockin’ Around. I think that it disarms you a little, with it’s slightly mellower feel, as you then drop into the darkness of the second track You’re Gonna Get It, which is the polar opposite of the hopeful positivity of this song.

OK folks, that’s season two up and running! I’m happy to be listening to You’re Gonna Get It again. My usual way of tackling these episodes is, when I’m prepping for the season, I listen to the album on vinyl once, just to sort of sit and hear it as a whole and to remind myself of any songs or parts of songs that I’d forgotten about or maybe not noticed. Then a couple of days later, I listen again under headphones, with a notepad handy, to jot down any general thoughts or things I want to follow up on or dig further into. The final listen is again to get a feel for the whole album before I dive into each track individually. Overall, I think When The Time Comes is a solid 6 out of 10. It has a cool feel to it, it’s easy to sing along to, and a pretty good choice for the album opener. Again, I’ll leave it at a 6 because it’s nowhere near Tom’s best work lyrically or in terms of structure, but it’s a still fun song and one you’d never skip if it came up on your playlist randomly. I did find one live version of the song, from the Hammersmith in London in 1980 and interestingly, they only do half of the bridge. Otherwise it’s a pretty straight arrangement with Stan singing high harmonies and Mike playing a little more lead in the outro that would have sounded great in the recorded version. I’ll add that into the episode notes for ya!


Petty Trivia

QUESTION: Which song, from Full Moon Fever, was most frequently the Show Opener on the Strange Behavior tour?

ANSWER: The answer, maybe somewhat surprisingly, is Love is a Long Road, which was one of only two songs from 1989’s, solo effort Full Moon Fever that was cowritten with Mike Campbell. Even though it wasn’t the show opener for the majority of that tour, it was still the most frequent one used to lead off the gig.


This might sound strange, might seem dumb
Depends on the side that you take it in from
Depends on the time, depends on the day
Depends on a lot of things, who can say

I just want to let you know that I will stand by you
Through whatever might come, wherever you run
Will you stand by me when the time comes

Baby do you understand, am I making this clear
Are you tuning me out cause I'm coming off weird
Well I don't care that's all right
That's okay, I don't mind

I just want to let you know that I will stand by you
Through whatever might come, wherever you run
Will you stand by me when the time comes

This ain't the right time to say what's on my mind
I know, but I look in your eyes
And there is no real life at all
Baby hold on

And someday soon you'll come around
You know where I can be found
When you heart feels right, seek me out
We can talk more then babe, but right now

I just want to let you know that I will stand by you
Through whatever might come, wherever you run
Will you stand by me when the time comes