S5E4 Deliver Me

               
Megan Volpert« PREVIOUS EPISODE   Change of HeartNEXT EPISODE »

Detail

Length: 17:48 - Release Date: September 14, 2022

"It’s one of those sneaky Tom Petty tracks that really burrows its way into your brain and sits there playing itself in the back of your mind. It definitely follows a trusted template and because of that I think it might be slightly overlooked in the catalog." Today’s episode looks at the third track from Long After Dark; Deliver Me.

If you want to listen to the track before we dig in, check out the official video: https://youtu.be/4sXP17MbvBQ

If you want to hear Tom singing on the Joni Mitchell song from last week's Petty Trivia, check that out here: https://youtu.be/_RMOct08pGY

And if you wanna watch Billy Idol rock out to "To Be a Lover", check this one out! https://youtu.be/q9g6U7iV_is

Transcript

(* 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 fourth episode of season five of the Tom Petty Project Podcast! I am your host, Kevin Brown. This is the podcast that digs into the entire Tom Petty catalog song by song, album by album and includes conversations with musicians, fans, and people connected with Tom along the way. Last week’s episode was a fantastic conversation with Megan Volpert and I hope you all tuned into that one and are going to be picking up her brand new book, Straight Into Darkness, Tom Petty as Rock Mystic. It was a wide-ranging chat and I could have spent most of the afternoon chatting to Megan as she’s an insightful, articulate, and very warm conversationalist. I also wanted to remind you all to check out he Deep Dive Podcast Network on Twitter. You’ll find podcasts dedicated to bands like Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Uriah Heep, Lynyrd Sykyrd and many more. The two shows that I’ve become really hooked on though are And The Podcast Will Rock and In The Lap of the Pods, covering Van Halen and Queen respectively. I also have some Queen-related news coming in the next few weeks, so listen out for that! 

Anyway, back to the music. Today’s episode looks at the third track from Long After Dark, Deliver Me. As always, go give the song a listen before we get started. There’s a link to the song in the episode notes and I don’t play the track itself in the episode, so I’d encourage you to give it another listen once the episode wraps to see if you hear the song differently. Still here? Really? Go listen to the song already! Fine, let’s get on with it.

In Paul Zollo’s excellent book, Conversations With Tom Petty, the song only has a single short question and response. Paul mentions that he likes the chorus and Tom says “Yeah, I liked that one. We played that one quite a bit during that period. It was fun.” Cue me heading over to setlist.fm to find out whether the song was a staple on the Long After Dark tour. Imagine my surprise when the website lists only two instances of the song being played. I’m pretty sure I read or heard somewhere that the band kept meticulous records of their setlists, so I hope that someday those are released in some format so us big old stats nerds can waste innumerable hours pouring over them and running all sorts of dreary calculations! It would be surprising if Tom’s memory was off on this but it’s also quite a surprise that the setlist website would be so far wrong.

Deliver Me starts with a pretty long 19 bar intro. After the synth and drum loop led sparsity of You Got Lucky, Deliver Me leans back into a quintessential Heartbreakers sound. The first 8 bars feature Stan keeping a rock solid backbeat going with some nice hat lifts on the four-and. With Howie just filling in some ascending and descending root notes. In case you’re wondering about this “four and” malarky I sometimes talk about, I can’t remember if I’ve explained it before so if I have, prepare to suck eggs! So in a regular four beat bar, you obviously count 1-2-3-4, if you fill in the gaps between those beats with and, so 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and you end up with spaces where you’ll often find a lot of percussive gold. A “hat lift” is that tschh-ut sound you hear when the hi-hat is opened and then closed. So you’ll hear it open on the and and close on the one, or just slightly ahead of the one sometimes. It just fills in the beat a little and makes it a little more interesting. I really like the way the two guitars are working off one another in that opening eight bars on those big meaty chords. If you listen to the mix, you can hear that one guitar is slightly crunchier and is droning on the chord and not changing a single note, while the second guitar, slightly lower in the mix, is adding that suspended note to the end of the phrase. So it’s a super simple little intro riff. After the first four bars, you get that that nice broken piano chord which leads into a big organ swell into that second part of the intro where we then get the main chord progression and Mike’s slide guitar solo, which is capped off with some harmonics. Curiously, this might be the first time I’ve really heard Mike use harmonics in this way, though I might have to go back now and check! It might also be the first time in the catalog the song starts with a solo. 

The verses follow the same chord pattern with the instrumentation dropped off in the mix and the guitars quite muted. Howie’s bass is simply sitting on the root notes and Benmont is mixed way down on those deep organ notes, swelling back up into the chorus where he brings the piano back in. After a standard 8 bars we get that one extra four count that leads us into that chorus and Stan’s ship-crack snare sound on the fill. You also get a fantastic big floor tom push on after the lines “Take this chance” and “Take this dream”. I love how the vocal is double tracked on the first two bars of each four in the chorus “Deliver me, deliver me” and “Take this chance, take this dream”. It really makes those lines pop without using a harmony. Tom just uses slightly different voicings to get the contrast he’s looking for.

Coming back out of the chorus, we don’t get that extra bar, but the song goes straight back into that intro riff with Benmont again adding those broken piano chords and organ swells. This section is only four bars heading into the second verse. The drums, bass, and guitar are played pretty much exactly the same way they are in the first verse, but we now get Benmont filling in more of that space with both piano and organ. The count is the same back out of this verse, with Howie adding in a really nice major key arpeggio, sliding into the second chorus where Benmont is again higher in the mix.

To this point, we’re getting a solid, if unremarkable Tom Petty rocker. Nicely constructed, perfectly arranged as always and hitting that groove really nicely. So where’s the bridge going to take us? Well, I’m gonna put this out there right now. This might be my favourite middle-eight from any album up to maybe Full Moon Fever. Yup, that’s how good this section is. It takes a pretty sneaky right turn straight away by adding in a 2 beat bar at the end to lead into the first part of the bridge, with Mike adding in a chiming broken chord guitar phrase. We then get a very chuggy, hard rock n roll progression. In the second half, Tom then starts scatting a little and Benmont’s organ comes back into the mix. Again this really doesn’t sound like anything the band has done to this point, so Tom is still finding interesting ways to take simple sections. The piano then trills us into the second half the bridge, which again fairly unusually to this point in the band’s career, has lyrics to go with the completely different key/chord progression, and tone.  Stan is playing side-stick, with Howie taking a melodic lead instead of the guitars and Benmont adding in the fills and licks, with the guitar sitting just behind it in the left channel playing around the same chords but in a different pattern. Tom takes the edge right off his voice during this section and we hear the first glimmer of what his tone would go on to sound like on later records with songs like Angel Dream. It’s a really clean, buttery smooth tone that brings the pace and tempo of the song back down as much as the musical change. I tell you boys and girls, this guy is simply one of the best vocalists I’ve ever listened to in terms of his choice of phrasing and style. 

We then get a big push into the chorus as the volume builds, the guitars come back and Stan starts hitting those floor toms again. The chorus runs through again with an extra couple of lines of “Take this heart, deliver me” before we fade out with that intro riff. We do get a lot more piano in this section and Howie is wandering all over the chord progression with his bass. So a fairly standard Heartbreakers outro, but coming on the heels of that wonderful middle section, it still manages to punch its way out.

Alrighty, it’s time for some Petty Trivia! 

Your question from last week was this;  In 1988, Tom sang backing vocals on Joni Mitchell’s Dancin’ Clown, from the album Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm. Can you tell me which other iconic 80s rocker also appeared on the song? The answer is: Billy Idol. This was a weird little cameo appearance from Tom that I stumbled across while digging around looking for something else and I wondered if anyone else was aware of it. Apparently, Mitchell had heard Billy Idol singing his version of the R&B ballad, To Be a Lover. She felt that he captured the spirit of the song and brought to it the fresh energy and spirit of rock n roll.  His vocals were recorded a few days after the Grammys in 1987 and Tom would later record his cameo on the song. I’ll leave a link to the song in the episode notes and see if you can spot Tom’s contributions. They’re pretty obvious even though they're fairly minimal and it’s Tom in full-on character mode.

Your question for this week is this: Of the 16 Heartbreakers and solo albums, two contain three songs with the word You in the title. Which two albums are they. And to make this a little bit easier, I’m going to start making these questions multiple choice! So is the answer a) You’re Gonna Get It and Long after Dark, b) Full Moon Fever and Hypnotic Eye, c) Echo and Songs and The Last DJ, or d) Wildflowers and Hard Promises?

OK, back to the song. I was talking to Megan last week about the tone of this album being really quite dark thematically. If you look at the song titles in isolation, there’s a definite despondency there. Deliver Me, Change of Heart, Finding Out, Straight Into Darkness, Between Two Worlds, A Wasted Life”. Obviously, the cracks in Tom’s first marriage were more than hairline fractures at this point, but more importantly, the pressure he was feeling at the time to deliver another hit record and ensure that all the people depending on him weren’t being let down leaked out into the lyrics on the album. Paul Zollo comments to Tom that “Many songwriters have said when their life is in turmoil, that’s when they write their best work.” This would seem on its face to be a fairly logical observation but Tom tells Paul “Even if I’m writing a sad song, I’m usually happy when I write it. I tend to write when I’m really up. I don’t even like playing music when I’m down.”  But still, I think consciously or subconsciously, those pressure and internalized struggles are going to find their way onto the page. That chat with Megan has really made me re-evaluate this album and rethink where some of these lyrics came from and the more I think about it, the more I’m certain that this track is probably the clearest indication of Tom expressing frustration with the album-tour-album-tour-album-tour cycle and maybe feeling like he’s on a bit of a treadmill.

The chorus, “Take this heart, set it free” “Baby take this heart deliver me”. You can definitely interpret those lines as being about a relationship, but if you put it in a professional context, this is Tom singing about feeling chained down by the weight of expectation rather than personal frustration. This seems to be resolved in the bridge when he sings “I never have made my mind up about it. I’ve just decided to let it all ride”. So there’s a sense of resignation there. Also, a quick note on that line “I never have made my mind up about it” Another fabulous example of Tom’s attention to originality in his writing. “I never have made” rather than “I have never made” is slightly more awkward to sing. The latter flows more naturally off the tongue, but the former has a ton more character. You can imagine someone suggesting changing those around and Tom smiling to himself and saying “Nah, this way is better” and he’d have been dead right. 

OK folks, that’s all for this week. Deliver Me is a pretty straight up-tempo rocker that doesn’t stretch itself too far but is really well arranged and really well performed. It’s most definitely elevated, for me at least, by that fantastic bridge and it’s one of those sneaky Tom Petty tracks that really burrows its way into your brain and sits there playing itself in the back of your mind. It definitely follows a trusted template and because of that I think it might be slightly overlooked in the catalog. I also think that for a lot of bands, this could have been a decent single to release, but they wouldn’t release four singles from an individual album for another five years. It is worth noting though that, while that bridge brings a fantastic freshness to the song, overall, it feels like an Iovine-era Heartbreakers track and doesn’t blow your brains out. So with all that considered, I’m going to give Deliver Me a rock solid 7 out of 10.

BACK TO TOP

Petty Trivia

QUESTION: Of the 16 Heartbreakers and solo albums, two contain three songs with the word You in the title. Which two albums are they. And to make this a little bit easier, I’m going to start making these questions multiple choice! So is the answer a) You’re Gonna Get It and Long after Dark, b) Full Moon Fever and Hypnotic Eye, c) Echo and Songs and The Last DJ, or d) Wildflowers and Hard Promises?

ANSWER: The answer is Wildflowers and Hard Promises. From Wildflowers, we have You Don’t Know How It Feels, You Wreck Me, and Crawling Back To You, and from Hard Promises, the three songs, all from side two, are Letting You Go, A Thing About You, and You Can Still Change Your Mind. I would add that I wasn’t counting You’re, You’ve or You’ll, even though you could make a literary argument that as those are contractions, the word You appears. But thankfully, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the pairs I picked so I think the question was as clear as it needed to be! 

Lyrics

Every woman and every man
Knows the feeling so well
Those times when the heart just can't understand
The times when you never can tell

So deliver me, deliver me
Baby take this heart, set it free
Take this chance, take this dream
Baby take this heart deliver me

Well I was born with something down inside of me
And it's carried me over, delivered me
Yeah delivered me, I'm standing' at your gate
Just out of reach of the hands of fate

So deliver me, deliver me
Baby take this heart, set it free
Take this chance, take this dream
Baby take this heart deliver me

Sometimes I wonder if this is worth the trouble
Sometimes I wonder if this is worth the fight
I never have made my mind up about it
I've just decided to let it all ride, let it all ride, let it all ride

So deliver me, deliver me
Baby take this heart, set it free
Take this chance, take this dream
Baby take this heart deliver me
Baby take this heart deliver me
Baby take this heart deliver me

BACK TO TOP

Live

Releases