S2E9 No Second Thoughts

Listen To Her Heart


Length: 12:15 - Release Date: January 12, 2022

Hello friends! Today's episode covers the 8th track from You're Gonna Get It!, No Second Thoughts.

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

I talked a little about the killer live version from 1981, recorded in Philadelphia, that was included on the Live Anthology boxset. You can find that here: https://youtu.be/T483OoprENY

One last link I wanted to give you is Bob Dylan's masterpiece, Not Dark Yet, from 1997's brilliant Time Out of Mind. The chord progression in the chorus of this song really reminds me of the same progression, albeit in a different key, in the yeah yeah ooh yeah yeah section of No Second Thoughts.


(* 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. Today’s episode is  the ninth episode in season two and covers the eighth track on the second album, No Second Thoughts.

If this is your first episode, we don’t actually play the song in the body of the episode notes due to complications with licensing, so go check out the link in the episode notes if you want to listen before we dig into the song. Once you’ve done that, come right back and we’ll chat about No Second Thoughts.

In Warren Zanes biography, Petty, Tom says that Denny Cordell basically left them to make the record themselves rather than actively producing, with Engineer Noah Shark guiding most of the sessions and the band recording the tracks basically as quickly as possible to get the record done and released. It’s astonishing that it turned out the way it did, given those recording conditions. No Second Thoughts was put together by overdubbing the vocals and other instrumentation onto a loop of the band playing percussion.

Like Luna, or Strangered in the Night from the debut album, the song opens with some studio noise and a monkey-like screech, apropos of nothing. We then get the percussive loop which will play throughout the song, with congas and likely some tapping on an acoustic guitar body. There’s also a very GeorgeHarrison-esque super-short 7th note lick which Mike plays that almost has a sitar-quality to it and starts the song off from a kinda weird place as that motif doesn’t recur anywhere else in the song.

Unlike most of the rest of the first two albums, the rhythm guitar is mixed dead centre, along with the bass and vocals. It’s a real camp-fire, buskers strumming pattern that, ya know, is intended to simply accompany the vocal. There’s not a riff or a significant guitar lick anywhere near this song, so a 17 year old could definitely impress their girlfriend, or boyfriend, with this song by just strumming and singing along. Again, the whole vibe of the song is very loose yet very personal. You feel like Tom is singing directly to you through the speakers.

In listening to the song for this episode, I found that I absolutely adore Ron Blair’s bass part on this one. It glides around that percussive foundation so serenely and moves around the octaves effortlessly, like a big fish lazily swimming around a lake on a warm summer’s day. The basic pattern through the verses is just playing the chord roots an octave apart, matching the chord changes, except for a wonderful touch where he plays root-fifth on the last bar after the last ooh yeah. It resolves that section beautifully and again just adds in a little tweak that you can easily miss on first listen. In the chorus, we get a little more bass action and a couple of those trademark Ron Blair one-step slides and a fantastic high slide right up the neck leading into the middle eight.

The lead guitar is mixed really quite low in this one and I’d absolutely love to hear those tracks isolated some day to hear exactly what Mike is playing. Toward the end of the first verse, you can just hear a whisper of a slide guitar in the ooh yeah section. That slide is then more prominent in the same section the second time through, but it’s still subtle and really low in the mix. In the middle eight we get a kind of not-solo, but just more guitar texture, that has a laid back country feel to it. That Am - G - C progression in that middle section just sounds beautiful and this is when you really notice Benmont’s organ sound ghosting through the background. Everything in that middle eight is subdued and restrained and it’s clearly just a little breathing room in the middle of the track rather than a change of pace or direction. 

Another thing you can hear throughout the song, in the left channel, is a very percussive, heavily flanged or phased part that really sounds like a bass-heavy jews harp. I still can’t quite figure out if that’s a guitar or Benmont playing a heavily-processed keyboard part. Another question for one of the band if I ever get to speak to them!

Tom’s vocals on this one are sultry and smooth, but he’s not in full seduction mood like he is on Mystery Man. We still get those really cool vowel bends that Tom’s accent throws up sometimes and which he accentuates at times to give a phrasing more punch, so the way he sings hand in the first verse or down in the second, he’s putting a little character into those words just by leaning into that bend. That’s a vocal thing that you can’t fake either. If I try to sing that line exactly the same way, I can do it fairly easily, but it sounds completely wrong coming out of my mouth, because I’m not from the south and it sounds forced. In the last episode we talked about how Tom thought that phrasing and meter are really important and those subtle little choices are another great example of when to use them sparingly. He doesn’t bend every vowel sound at the end of each line, but picks and chooses the moments to use it. There’s also the way he throws away the words “second thoughts” in the chorus after the bridge. He just lets them fall to the floor as if what he’s singing about is hopeless. We get harmonies on the yeah yeah oh yeah yeah lines. Those harmonies are also made so much deeper by that soft slide that Mike is playing as it adds in a harmonic part that almost sounds vocal. I thought at first that the vocals might actually be Stan, but as those parts are brought up in the mix a little in the outro, you can tell that it’s definitely Tom. 

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: Aside from Denny Cordell and Tom himself, who is the third person given a producer credit on the album? The answer is, co-producer Noah Shark, who also played percussion on the album and leaned on Tom in regards to the album title and artwork. The band had done a photo shoot with the legendary Annie Leibovitz and had a great shot they intended to use for the cover. Denny Cordell wanted the album to be called Terminal Romance, but as Warren Zanes writes in Petty, “Noah Shark had Petty’s ear and he was adamant. You’re Gonna Get It, both album title and cover image, was a much Shark’s vision as anyone’s.” Stan Lynch for one, wasn’t enamoured of Shark’s influence, but Mike Campbell says in the same book, “We realized, most of the ideas Noah comes up wth seem to make things better. So we just started listening to him more while we made the first record and relied on him when we did the second.”

Your question for today is a sneaky one! In the musical interlude before this week’s Petty Trivia, the riff from what song is played?

OK, back to the song. 

Hand on heart, this is one of those deeper cuts that I overlooked for a very long time. It’s not a song I’d have ever pick to play for people as an example of Tom’s music. I think part of that is because I basically wrote the lyrics off as being slightly weak, due to the rhyme-heavy verses, you know “band, sand, hand” etc. but the more I’ve listened to it, the more I’ve realized that it’s another one of Tom’s song that is using the words to paint an abstract picture rather than telling a very specific story and building them to that glorious, and gloriously simple, chorus.

I think that this track, more than other on the album, captures the frenetic energy of the recording process for the record. It has such a loose, jam-room type vibe to it and you could absolutely see the song being recorded as a full out rock n roller, even though it’s great in this arrangement too. It’s also one of only a handful of songs that Tom wrote that puts my in mind of his contemporary Bruce Springsteen. I think it’s that Yeah yeah ooh yeah yeah over top of that Am, G, C progression. I know that that chord progression has been used a thousand times, but it has ta sort of working-class angst to it that I always associate with Springsteen. That chord progression turns up again (in a different key) on one of my favourite late-period Bob Dylan songs, Not Dark Yet, when he sings the title line in the chorus. There’s just something about those three chords, played in that sequence, in that timing, that really hits your emotional centre. At least I think so! The other thing I love about the song is the cool structure. Verse, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, verse outro. So not your standard rock n roll structure, but as always, exactly what the song needs. 

No Second Thoughts is probably the most distinctive track on the album in the same way that Luna stands out on the debut because of its unique vibe and the minimal production, but it’s also one that I’ve grown to really appreciate and connect with. It’s also a song I think I’m definitely going to arrange for piano. Maybe I’ll throw it up on my YouTube channel for you folks once it’s done!

OK folks, that’s all for this week. I’m going to give No Second Thoughts an 8 out of 10. That may seem high to some people, but it’s just such a unique,cool-feeling song that I’ve really come to connect with. It was only played live a handful of times but thankfully, a performance from July 27th in Philly was captured and is included on the Live Anthology. This version has more prominent organ and piano and an accompanying drum part. It’s also played at a slower tempo and has an even more country feel to the performance, featuring a great three part harmony on the ooh yeahs. It’s a killer version and one that I listen to almost as much as if not more than the original. I’ll link to that version in the episode notes.


Petty Trivia

QUESTION: Your question for today is a sneaky one! In the musical interlude before this week’s Petty Trivia, the riff from what song is played?

ANSWER: 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!

Here's the little teaser video I posted online with Randy's audio.


She threw down her golden band
Crushed it with her feet into the sand
Took her silent partner by the hand
Yeah yeah, oh yeah yeah

Somewhere near the edge of town
She said she was torn and turned around
Can you help me cast this evil down
Yeah yeah, oh yeah yeah

We'll drive for the line now
There's nothing to be lost
You and I will cross over
With no second thoughts

We'll drive for the line now
There's nothing to be lost
You and I will cross over
With no second thoughts

Dreams fade, hope dies hard
She cups her eyes
Looks out at the stars
Says, "I feel we've travelled very far"
Yeah yeah, oh yeah yeah
Yeah yeah, oh yeah yeah
Yeah yeah, oh yeah yeah