Saturday, December 15, 2007

It Took Me 20 Years to Figure Out...

...that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' "Runaway Trains" (1987) and Don Henley's "The Boys Of Summer" (1984) are remarkably similar. I guess that isn't too surprising considering that Heartbreaker Mike Campbell co-wrote and played on both songs. But even knowing that, I somehow never made the sonic connection.

This morning I was trying to remember "Runaway Trains" and started conflating it with the Henley song. It got to the point where I was interchanging the instrumental breaks in my head. After my epiphany, I played both of the records (yes, I still have them on vinyl) to make sure I wasn't imagining it. Then I went back to a book I read last year called Conversations With Tom Petty (I re-read the sections about both songs just to make sure I hadn't already read about the similarity and forgotten). In it, Petty says that Campbell offered him the music for "The Boys Of Summer" (Campbell writes music, not lyrics), but he didn't like the chorus and never got around to rewriting it. Of course, it was a huge hit with Henley's lyrics.

If you didn't figure it out for yourself 20 years ago, check it out. And if you like Petty, you'll enjoy the exhaustive Conversations book (unfortunately, the biggest Petty fan I know doesn't like to read!).

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