S2E10 Restless

No Second Thoughts
Baby's a Rock


Length: 13:33 - Release Date: January 19, 2022

Hello friends! Today's episode covers the second-last track from You're Gonna Get It!; Restless.

If you want to listen to the song before you listen to the episode, you can find it here: https://youtu.be/e5QKYC7yp3o

Don't forget that I will be chatting to Jake Thistle, live, on Facebook today (Jan 19, 2022) at 7PM EST (5PM if your on the US West Coast, or midnight in UK). We're going to talk about all things Tom Petty including the opportunity Jake had to play with a couple of the Heartbreakers, plus his connection to Tom's music and how it's influenced his own songwriting, which you also have to check out. Head over to this link to set yourself a reminder right now! https://www.facebook.com/JakeThistleMusic/posts/3067745243513078

I also gave a shout out to my very good friend Mr. Randy Woods, who kindly plays all the interstitial music for the podcast and wrote and recorded the outro tune for me too! Check out the track "Grow Your Love" from his latest album here https://youtu.be/fmyzddSY4Qc and if you like it, go subscribe to his YouTube channel and start following him on social media. You can find his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/RandyWoodsBand


(* 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 Tom Petty Project Podcast! As always, I am your host, Kevin Brown! This is the podcast that digs into the entire Tom Petty catalogue song by song, album by album and includes conversations with musicians, fans, and people connected with Tom along the way. The topic of conversation is the penultimate 9th track from the Heartbreaker’s second record, Restless. As always, please check out the link in the episodes notes if you you would like to listen to the song first, then come back and we’ll dig straight into it!

As we know from various interviews and various books, You’re Gonna Get It was recorded really quickly with a view to following up the success that Breakdown had finally achieved on the radio. With a couple of fantastic songs written and figured out live before the band headed into the studio, the emphasis was on getting the rest of the record done and Tom, when speaking about Restless admits to Paul Zollo, in Conversations with Tom Petty, “I think at that point we were driving our way through to finish the album.” You definitely get the sense that the lyrics especially were hurriedly assembled and they lack that characteristic Petty flare and don’t really have one line that pops and grabs you. Musically though, I really quite like it. It has a really great rhythm section that is way funkier than anything they had or would write up to probably Nightwatchman, from Hard Promises. 

This one starts with a great Stan Lynch drum sound. I still find it really weird that the drums on Magnolia were recorded so flat, as they’re so big and beefy on the rest of the album. We get a tight drum fill intro here with a Mike sliding down the fret to lead into the first bar of the intro. The intro takes the last two bars of the chorus and stretches that B chord out for one more bar instead of going back to the root F#. So a fairly standard songwriting trick there to lead into the first verse. So, including that drum fill, we’re getting a super short four bar intro that cannibalizes the chorus and leads us straight into that first verse. Musically, it’s not groundbreaking, but I kinda like how it’s not a straight lift from another section of the song either. 

Ron is playing a picked bass rather than his usually finger-playing style which gives those bass notes a great snap. He really leans into those double kicks on the 3rd note in the bar and fills in the rest of the bar with big, dramatic slides and the last two notes of a triplet that sits in counterpoint to the triplet that Mike is playing on the guitar. So as Mike plays his three notes in ascending order, Ron is coming down on the second and third notes. This gives that beat a nice harmonic fullness that would be missing if Ron either stayed on a single note or matched what Mike is playing. He does this in that first verse then starts to add in more movement in that bottom end in the second, with again more slides. The chorus sees him simplifying things a little but then really pushing those big slides in the back half of those sections.

Accompanying Ron in the bass-heavy feel of this one is Stan’s great drum track, which features my favourite, and one of the most subtle, drum fills on the album. Listen to the lead out of the first chorus (You look restless too) he plays a killer little lick on the hat and ride cymbal before playing a snare, floor tom combo to come back into the verse. It’s a really clever little bit of drumming that fills in that bar without overpowering it. So often when you’re listening to a Heartbreakers record, you notice something like that, where one of them just throws something in that is super cool, even in a song that isn’t necessarily top shelf. Because the song structure is so simple and doesn’t really develop, you’re looking to add in a little dynamic movement some place any way you can and I think that Ron and Stan pick up a lot of slack in this song. 

Last week I talked about how unusual the mixing of the guitar was on No Second Thoughts in that the rhythm guitar was mixed dead centre. Well, we’re back to the more typical panning on this one, with Mike’s lead sitting in the left channel and Tom’s on the right. And just in case you’re not sure what I’m talking about when I talk about the left and right channels, and sorry if this is sucking eggs for some or most of you, but if you listen under headphones, you’ll hear that different tracks are very specifically coming through one side. So if you take one speaker away from your head entirely, or take one ear bud out, say, you simply won’t hear some of the instrumentation, or won’t hear it nearly as clearly. My theory on the way this was done fairly consistently on the first two albums to kind of mirror the way you would see/absorb it live, as Mike was always to Tom’s right (or left from the audience) so you hear Mike on the left and Tom on the right. If I ever get to speak to Mike Campbell, I’ll definitely be asking him about that! The guitar on this track is fairly straightforward, with no real riff. Again the song is carried by the rhythm section. But, there are some super cool Mike Campbell licks in and around the breaks in the vocal. That fill he plays in the second verse right after “I’m a hair trigger lover” really reminds me of Stevie Ray Vaughan - even the tone to a degree has that quality; super bluesy. The rest of the track has the odd fill here and there, but it definitely feels…

The other thing I love about this song is the Fender Rhodes (I assume that’s what it is) that Benmont is playing. Ordinarily, Benmont’s virtuosity is much more restrained on the studio recordings and comes out more in the live performances, again especially on the early albums. After the first verse and chorus on this song though, we hear a lot more from Ben and he rips out a few great little licks. Listen out for a that great little chord progression he plays at the end of the second verse, right after the line “Waiting here for something”. You get that lovely warm Rhodes vibe coming through. For most of the rest of the song to this point, he’s just playing the F# root chord on the second beat of every second bar. Then we get some big hammond organ sweeps through the first part of the chorus.

I rarely find fault with a Heartbreakers song and throughout this podcast have always focused as much as I can on the positives of which there are always many. However, I have to say, that to me, this is one of the weakest bridges Tom ever wrote. It really feels like a case of “crap, I have nothing else here and we just need to get this song done, that will do.” Tom even says to Paul Zollo about this song, “I’m sure if we would have waited another day, we would have come up with something better” and I think that even if the song had a better bridge, maybe a key change, or dropping out the kick snare pattern and building some tension in the middle, that would have elevated the song. It just doesn’t really offer anything different or interesting, where that’s something that band almost always does brilliantly. 

It’s time, once again my friends, for some Petty Trivia! Where I get to ask you questions that range from lyrical, to musical, to historical, to the downright incidental!

Last week’s question was this: In the musical interlude before this week’s Petty Trivia, the riff from what song is played? The answer is Zero from Outer Space, from the the album Songs and Music from “She’s the One” which features the only F Bomb, that I can think of, in the Petty catalogue, but it fits the garage-rock punk swagger of the song so, you know, don’t get offended over a word! Remember, there’s no such thing as “bad words”, only bad intent.  I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks again to my best friend, Randy Woods, who provides me with the interstitial musical licks for my podcast. He’s given me four or five for each of the first two seasons and I like the idea of switching it up for each season, to give you something else to listen to. He’s a phenomenal songwriter and musician in his own right and I’ll drop a couple of links to his music in the episode notes so that you can check him out and maybe support him. He’s a great chap all round!

You’re question for this week is as follows: from the 16 Heartbreakers and solo records, how many song titles contain a Man’s name and can you name them?

OK, back to the song. 

Vocally, this is a solid performance, without being noteworthy. It’s fairly a stock arrangement in that regard, with a single tracked vocal in the verses and then a harmony line added in the chorus, with a call and response added to the initial “I’m restless” part. But Tom doesn’t really stretch himself and isn’t sitting that sultry lower register. He’s singing it pretty straight. We do get a bit of a push right at the end of the bridge, but it’s probably the least interesting vocal on the album. Restless is also probably the weakest lyric on those first two albums. It really has the feel of a lyric that was hurriedly added to a jam that the band had going and I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case. The underlying motif is restlessness, obviously, but thematically, Tom doesn’t really follow through on that as he might ordinarily do and a lot of the lines feel like placeholders that were never re-written. It’s exceedingly rare that I don’t find a single line in a Tom Petty song that makes me think “Damn, that’s a great line!” but this is one of the few that leaves me underwhelmed. 

Bugs Wiedel, who was in pretty much every single recording session Tom ever did, hated the song and said he never wanted to hear it again. The quote in Conversations with Tom Petty is, “If I never hear that one again, that would be okay with me.” I wouldn’t necessarily go that far and I never skip this song if I’m listening to it on my phone, because as I’ve said, I think there’s enough there musically to interest me, especially in the rhythm section, but it most definitely feels like an unfinished idea, rather than a track they would have fought to keep. I wonder if the song Parade of Loons, which was recorded for the album but was lost because of tape distortion, would have replaced this one had it been available. The fact that you can count on the fingers of one finger how many times it was played live (that I can find), probably tells you how much they thought of the end product. The other thing to note about this track is how long the fade out is. At around 20 seconds, that’s a lot of time just wandering off into the fog. Speaking of that, yesterday evening I was watching trashy 80’s action movies and I reckon the music from the verses would have been perfect for a foggy backstreet cop scene where they’re creeping round the edge of a building looking for a way in, guns drawn!

OK folks, that’s all for this week. As I said fairly close to the top of the episode, I really like the rhythm section in this song and there are nice little touches here and there, including Benmont’s Rhodes piano fills, but overall, it’s one of the very few examples of filler on a Tom Petty record. It’s usually all or mostly killer, but this one definitely isn’t and I’d be astonished if you could find a single person who would say that Restless is their favourite song on the album. With that in mind, I’m going to give the song a 4 out of 10. It’s my lowest rating so far and most likely as low as I’ll ever go for any song, but it just doesn’t really go anywhere and when Paul Zollo tells tom “Your Song Restless has a hip drum-bass groove to it”, Tom sums up my feelings in his answer; “That’s about all it has. I think that’s about it for that song.” Oh well, every now and again, you get rocks instead of diamonds and I think this one probably stands out so much more as a weaker song because of the three songs that precede it on the second side of this album, which are all excellent tracks. Let me know if you feel that my rating is an egregious error and that you’ll never listen to the podcast again and maybe I’ll send you a bag of sweets to try to win you back. What do you like? “Werther’s Originals?”, Fizzy cola bottles? Just let me know and I’ll make peace with you!


Petty Trivia

QUESTION: From the 16 Heartbreakers and solo records, how many song titles contain a Man’s name and can you name them?

ANSWER: There are five songs which fit the bill and they are the well-loved Spike, from the Southern Accents album, Billy the Kid, from Echo, Joe from The Last DJ, Jack from Highway Companion, and Jefferson, the main character from Mojo’s leadoff track Jefferson Jericho Blues, which features a sensational harmonica part from Scott Thurston.


I don't need to belong to no one
I don't belong at all
Got my face in the corner
Got my back to the wall

And pretty baby I'm restless, restless
Restless through and through
I'm restless restless
You look restless too

I'm a hair trigger lover
And I can't face up to nothing
I'm impatient with the wind
But I'm waitin' here for somethin'

And pretty baby I'm restless, restless
Restless through and through
I'm restless restless
You look restless too

Restless sleep, twisted dreams
Moving targets, silent screams
Restless city, restless steets
Restless you, restless me

I'm a face out the window
I'm a black satin sheet
And I can't stay warm
I stay out in the street

And pretty baby I'm restless, restless
Restless through and through
I'm restless restless
You look restless too