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MaryJanes2ndLastDance

You Wreck Me, was it a hit? And other questions.

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Or was it popular because it was on Wildflowers?

Or both? It didn't seem to get played a lot on the radio; seems like it was performed on tv a few times. Sometimes a TPATH song will play over the PA system when I'm working out, one of the big hits but not You Wreck Me. 

Do you think it's as recognizable as Don't Come Around Here No More or American Girl or any of the big singles?  From online footage it seems the audience always reacts positively to those first chiming, heavy chords. 

Have a favorite performance of the song? The shorter versions when it was first played on tour or the later longer ones. I'm fond of the versions from the 40th tour.

What do you think of the song overall? It's certainly a welcome burst of energy on Wildflowers; these types of songs would appear less and less on album till Hypnotic Eye, which is chock full of 'em in terms of energy and attitude. 

cheers

 

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Ok, I bite. Somewhat tricky questions, but I pitch in.

First. YWM was the 2nd single off Wildflowers (itself very much an album-album). As far as I can remember, it got at least some moderate attention. So, I suppose it was a hit of sorts, right there. Perhaps not as big as it "should" have been, if you ask me (and you kinda did). At least over here, it seems a nobrainer that this is the radio friendly driving song that could've and would've filled the gap between Mary Jane's Last Dance and Walls, in those early dying days of the physical single. But instead - voila - You Don't Know How It Feels called shutgun and put YWM in the back. Even the title track - Wildflowers - that wasn't even a single, seemed to get more attention early on. (But this may have been imagination on my part - I seem to recall that YWM did alright over the radio over in UK at least.)

Second. All of the above may seem weird. At least to me it really seem like YWM should have been the first single and really is the certified hit from the era. But, I think the slight mind game at work here is how Tom himself (and by all means, his audience) quickly realised that YWM, in his own mind, was a hit and within a few tours he made it his mission to make it so. Simply put: it worked. And we all know what that meant to Tom. (Note: YWM was actually one of the last songs to make it into the fixated core of Tom's display cabinet. Later career "hits" - Walls, Room At The Top, The Last DJ, Saving Grave - have come and went over decades, tours and shows, but not until Mojo's I Should've Known It was there another one that was made more or less permanent. I think that's important. Many of the other songs mentioned, and then some, would probably have felt like bigger or more succesful singles, had they been worn out in the live set the same way YWM has.) Somewhat simplified, perhaps, but I think this helps to explain why it feels like such a hit today, despite the fact that singles sales, radio play or popularity outside of the TPATH fanbase, back in the day may be less than spectacular. Fact it: it was a single and it was made a huge live staple. YDKHIF was arguebly the bigger hit back then (althought to me that song basically is just one big middle finger in the direction of Stan Lynch), both of them were played frequently for the longest time and were taken to heart by the audience. But I would say that YWM, probably wins the long haul - it seems real big from here and now - due to extra persitense in sheer amount of performances (I suppose both YDKHIF and YWM is in that rigid top twelve of most ever played songs - with quite a huge gap down to nr 13 - but that YWM is the most played by far. All of the other songs up there are huge single and radio hits, btw). The song also shows some nice punch and energy, like you noted, in the song structure. It's a fun song that can be hard to ignore the first few hundred times you hear it.

This "live classic" aspect of the song may also go to show why, in my mind, YWM seem to be at the end of the album, the way it so often been at the end of the show, while in reality, it's really in the begninning of the disc. Either way, I have had a tendency to think the song somewhat overrated. I loved it when it was fresh out of the sleeve. I also love those first live takes of it. Then, while the song got cemented in the shallow end easy pleasers, so to speak, I kinda lost interest and thought it didn't quite amounted to much special for many years. Until last year - you are right - to me, last year's version is arguebly very good, not only is it perhaps the best "reading" of the song that we got, it also was one of the best, sharpest and interesting moments in last year's set.

 

 

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I don’t have anything to add to this thread other than I wish I was into Tom Petty in the 90s - sadly I was primarily into Blur, Pearl Jam and Nirvana and hip hop - I can’t believe I was so late to the Petty party. But at least I got there in the end :) Love YWM by the way.

EDIT:

Not that I wasn’t aware of TP - I certainly remember watching the videos for Free Fallin’ and Into the Great Wide Open and liking the songs, but clearly not enough to buy the albums, explore more and go to the gigs, until the last couple of years. Annoying.

 

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I learned many years ago that it doesn't matter if a song is #1 on the radio, or #100. It's what you hear and love that makes it a top hit in your heart. Your ears only let the song into your heart and that's where the love begins. Most of the songs I love were LP fillers and never on the radio.

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^ Good point. Same here. Nevertheless, I for one find a song's general popularity (or unpopularity) interesting. Certainly the dimension of how a song can gain (or miss out on) classic status from the amount of live play it gets.

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5 hours ago, Lifeshouldbesung said:

don’t have anything to add to this thread other than I wish I was into Tom Petty in the 90s - sadly I was primarily into Blur, Pearl Jam

 Greatest rock band of all time in my opinion and a live juggernaut.

5 hours ago, Lifeshouldbesung said:

go to the gigs, until the last couple of years. Annoying.

 What shows/tours did you see?

cheers

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11 hours ago, Shelter said:

but not until Mojo's I Should've Known It was there another one that was made more or less permanent.

 Right. Perhaps worthy of its own topic. Why did that song last through the subsequent tours? I'm guessing it's because it was a solid slab of rock riffage, a chance for Mike and the band to get heavy. The audience seemed to like it well enough and it added to the "oomph" of the main set, you've got the heavy riff groove of ISKI followed by the huge hit of Refugee and the fast moving Running Down A Dream, quite a trio.

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7 hours ago, Shelter said:

Nevertheless, I for one find a song's general popularity (or unpopularity) interesting. Certainly the dimension of how a song can gain (or miss out on) classic status from the amount of live play it gets.

 

15 hours ago, Shelter said:

both of them were played frequently for the longest time and were taken to heart by the audience. But I would say that YWM, probably wins the long haul - it seems real big from here and now - due to extra persitense in sheer amount of performances (I suppose both YDKHIF and YWM is in that rigid top twelve of most ever played songs - with quite a huge gap down to nr 13 - but that YWM is the most played by far. All of the other songs up there are huge single and radio hits, btw). 

   That's the crux of it. Sure the song made #2 but has it become a radio staple? I don't think so. So is the song popular in concert because of Wildflowers being such a beloved album or because Tom kept playing it? Probably both. I guess this and ISHKI have that in common, both singles (though one more popular than the other but still nowhere near the level of the Greatest Hits) that became regular parts of the concerts.

 

15 hours ago, Shelter said:

I kinda lost interest and thought it didn't quite amounted to much special for many years.

 There have been times where I've skipped the song because it was played so much or enjoyed the studio version for its brevity and sound quality and the freshness after hearing so many live versions. I still like the song but listening to it comes and goes. They really seemed to inject new life into it on this tour though.

cheers

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As far as fast(er) rock songs go, You Wreck Me is definitely one of the better ones. IMO. (Why they chose YDKHIF, of all songs, as a single back then remains mysterious to me.) I like Wildflowers a lot, it's one of my favorite albums, but like Shelter said: It's an album-album. Not a singles-album.

Which is a funny discussion/distinction nowadays, when everything comes down to playlists and neither album nor single play a significant role, at least not as physical formats.

What I like most about You Wreck Me, as strange as it may sound, is the last verse.

"I'll be the boy in the corduroy pants

You'll be the girl at the highschool dance".

Those two lines, to me, make the song, both lyrically and arrangement-wise. They show why Tom was way above average as a songwriter and the Heartbreakers were way above average as a band.

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When Tom originally brought the song to the band it was called "you rock me".

The band rejected it saying you can't sing you rock me. Then Tom came up with "you wreck me" and it was fixed by changing one word.

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9 hours ago, Jay said:

When Tom originally brought the song to the band it was called "you rock me".

The band rejected it saying you can't sing you rock me. Then Tom came up with "you wreck me" and it was fixed by changing one word.

Exactly. I think it's in the Conversations book where Tom states he sings "rock" on the album, so the recording predates the name/lyric change.

I've been trying to figure out what the heck he's actually singing, I can't tell if it's wreck or rock.

But isn't that genius, altering one word (and altering it in a way that's still phonetically consistent) and making the song work on a whole new level?

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It's "Wreck", plain and simple.

Moreover. If no other lyrics were changed, it's extremely obvious to me how much better the words "you wreck me", works with the counter line "you break me..." , that I even find it utterly hard to believe that Tom ever wrote "you rock me". It's simply suppar, given the context. Oh, well, I suppose we can all have bad days, but if that is actually what he originally wrote, I am glad that it was put straight. Like mentioned, minor detail, huge difference.

On the other hand - and here I really speculate - with regards to recording the song, I suppose such a phonetic difference as "ock" vs "eck" can perhaps be tweaked in mixing. But again, I really think though, that the simplest and least exciting explanation - as always - is likely what happened in this case. That is, Tom brought the song in an consensus had it that it was a good song, but that it had to be "Wreck", so that's then how it was finally cut. Everything else feels like elements of myth, to me.

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13 hours ago, Thelonious said:

You Wreck Me reached #2 of the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts but didn't make it into the Billboard Hot 100.

Which makes a huge difference. TP has had several hits on the rock chart. Just look at wikipedia. Out in the Cold was number 1 on there

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I was never totally crazy in love with YWM live. I would concur about the boy girl couplet lines  which always puts a smile on my face when I hear them ☺

ISHKI is a certified hot live rocker, many nights in person it was the top level highlight of the shows I've been at. The crowd really get into it every time too..a non hit hit so to speak and is up there for me as one of the top drawer latter era songs..again it showcased how much the band could really rock out when they cut loose. 

On another note can someone please tell me why You're so bad was an immovable live albatross that never moved aside. I must admit I'm not keen on it at all but it was always played! ☺

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Yer So Bad is a good song, one of those perfectly placed punchy tunes that kick off Side Two. I didn't know it was a single but that would be my guess as to why it was played so often though a quick check of setlist.fm showed they stopped performing it from '04 to '13. So there were a number of shows and tours without the song. 

Beyond it being a single (which I don't know if I ever heard it on the radio) I think it's just a crowd pleaser with those opening lyrics. It's short and fast and fun and fits in to the set list formula they had of bringing up the energy after the mid-set acoustic/mellow part of the show. It's a transition piece to the heavier conclusion of the main set.

I don't listen to it much anymore because I listened to it a lot over the years, but every so often I'll let it play through.

cheers

 

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