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Best Live Version of Mary Jane's Last Dance

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I don't know if there's a single performance to point it but there are tours, two to my mind where one can get the best live versions; not with about a thirty second to minute solo and some climatic noise for the big wrap-up but where the band extended the song.

The Wildflowers Tour: Usually begun with Benmont's solo, offering a little atmosphere before the song kicks in. Very moody jams.

The Last Dj Tour: Usually begun with Tom doing some kind of "Dj speech" leading to long versions with a lot of atmosphere and then launching into a double time outro. Fantastic!

Is there a particular version you enjoy? The one from the Homecoming '93 show? Acoustic at Stan's last performance with the band? The slightly longer version minus the big jams that became the standard over the years? The all kazoo version?

cheers

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On April 10, 2018 at 5:01 PM, Mudcrutch said:

I always liked the Hamburg Docks version. Both Tom's and Mike's guitar playing hit the climax of the song at just the right timing.

That's an enjoyable concert; there's a couple of really good live shows with good sound quality from that tour. As for the song itself, I felt they cut it short just when it was really getting good.

cheers

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41 minutes ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

You have to go to 1:16:39 for the song:

 

If I could give you a 1,000 "Likes" for this, I would.

If I had been in the audience during this, they would have had to call EMT I think.  Did you catch this tour?

Had you not told me about this version, I would have come across by chance, if at all.

Do you happen to know any background info about this tour?  Was it a particularly grand time in Tom's life?  I ask because, while it's true I'm no expert on him, from what I do know and have seen, he is rarely so energetic on stage as he was during this.

From my heart, I thank you for posting this.  :wub:

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5 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

One of the last times they played it with Stan. One of the few times actually...!

 

That girl's voice at the beginning scared me.  :lol:

I just love his smile.

Poor Howie.

And I still don't understand why Stan left.

One more thing.  The nineties did Tom in I think.  He was never the same after that physically.  I hate drugs.

Which guitar is mike playing during this?

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On 4/14/2018 at 10:10 AM, Lorra said:

Do you happen to know any background info about this tour?  Was it a particularly grand time in Tom's life?  I ask because, while it's true I'm no expert on him, from what I do know and have seen, he is rarely so energetic on stage as he was during this.

From my heart, I thank you for posting this.  :wub:

This is from October 2002, just days after the release of "The Last DJ".  Tom and the band did a 2-night stand at The Olympic Theater in Los Angeles, and it was simulcast to theaters around the country.  I recall paying $10 to see it in Seattle.  They put out a DVD from (I guess) the best versions from both nights.  The website had a thing where the first 100 people that pre-ordered the DVD, received a copy signed by Tom. I got one of those, as did probably many other people here.

As far as it being a grand time in Tom's life - I wouldn't expect that to be the case. The record is a rather melancholy look back at better times.  George Harrison had died less than a year previous, and Howie had been fired from the band, and would pass away a couple of months after this show.

Still, it's one of my very favorite records in his entire catalog.

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On April 14, 2018 at 1:10 PM, Lorra said:

Did you catch this tour?

 No, I caught the tour before the official Last DJ tour that summer, heard three new songs from that album (Have Love Will Travel, Lost Children and Can't Stop the Sun) and the really good version of Too Much Ain't Enough. 

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Ok, I jump in on this..

I would agree with a lot of what's said here. I definitely think they took the song (MJLD) to some of the more interesting places it's been, in around 2002 and 2003. Most of the 2002 versions I've heard are truly fantastic, and so are the version they close the April 19, 2003 show at the Vic with, for example. (As of very recently, that show is now again on youtube, btw. Sound only.) 

That said, this is a song that almost never failed to amaze me. True, it may have been one of the last songs to be added to the long list of mandatory songs in the TPATH set, but still.. it's not exactly fresh. It was there for the better part of 24 years! Yet, it never wore itself out nearly as much as some of the songs just marginally older. Worth mentioning, I think. The song is certainly one of their finest ever moments.

And I am also very partial to this version.. :) 

 

On 4/14/2018 at 7:10 PM, Lorra said:

Do you happen to know any background info about this tour?  Was it a particularly grand time in Tom's life?  I ask because, while it's true I'm no expert on him, from what I do know and have seen, he is rarely so energetic on stage as he was during this.

 

15 hours ago, TomFest said:

As far as it being a grand time in Tom's life - I wouldn't expect that to be the case. The record is a rather melancholy look back at better times.  George Harrison had died less than a year previous, and Howie had been fired from the band, and would pass away a couple of months after this show.

Yeah, I wouldn't expect it to be the case either. After all that happened, I'd say he was not in his best place yet. To all what TomFest mentions, add a few years of personal chaos, divorce, substance abuse and what have you, in the late 90s years prior, and the LDJ era will be Tom just barely starting to come back into shape. Back in 1999 he was pretty much in the middle of the storm, not knowing perhaps that some of it was only the beginning, and he held up pretty well, the way you do at times when you are being totally sucked up, even in bad things. At least that's what it seems like from what's doucmented. But by 2002 I personally always thought that he looked quite pale and broken. His tired sunken eyes quite the contrast to his then-new longer hair, his ever cool swagger and energic performance.

2002 is as if Tom hung on to the music and performing with all his life, here. Combined with the highly unusual set list (a very strange set up, by Tom's standard) this may be exactly what makes this show and this era so intense and so great. I've been returning to this era recordings a lot lately and it's really deeply fascinating, they were really on a strange and wonderful roll there for a year or two. I realize there is a somewhat perverse streak to that, finding this chimmering quality in hues of desparation and darkness. But my conclusion is that Tom was just slowly starting to bounch back around this time, getting his nose above the surface, so to speak. His marriage to Dana in 2001 seems like quite a pick-up at the bottom of all things in some respect, and in 2002 he was still struggling with some heavy shit, no doubt. But most of all, by then he had hope. Not least thanks to Dana. And to the band. And to the ideas for the LDJ concept/album. To playing playing live. He was on a mission again, at least that's how it seems to me. .. He just had to carry the thin visible ghost of his recent rough past on his face for a little time longer.

Fact is, at least to me, that already in the spring of 2003 Tom had found his way back to what seems like a much more healthy and content balance, looking a lot more at peace.*  Still, there are reasons to believe that whatever perfect storm of troubles hit Tom around the millenium, he had to live with the consequences from both his own and others' bad trips, so to speak, for the rest of his life. As someone suggested - without speculating too much - physically he might not never fully recovered from what he put himself through in those years, and while allowed and long, beautiful and prosperous delay, all these things may have proven fatal additions to his condition in the end. 

So, as for "particularly grand time"... I would rather say that he'd just stepped out from some particularly grand darkness, and I think that you can tell it in his eyes.

-----

* It's almost as if losing Howie, was like cutting the last bad tie to those dark times. At least it seems it was the last and final in a long line of bad blows for Tom, at least in a while. I used to wonder why Howie didn't seem to mean more than he did to Tom, how Tom could handle this disaster with Howie so seemingly lightly, as if they only let him slip and didn't bother to voice much sadness or regrets when he died. Never talked very much or in any depth about him at all, basically.  But put into this larger context, it's actually quite natural the way it all played out. At first Tom had his own bad struggles to fights - God knows about the status of the others around this time - and then, at the end, Tom was finally getting a grip, coming through, not only alive, but quite happy too.. I suppose the closeness to Howie's faith, from several angles, just became too much, too painful.. to dangerous even. Perhaps later, the issue could have deserved a bit more dealing with, as I see it, but around the time it happened, I've really come to terms with how complicated this all was. Back then it just struck me as if they didn't give a sh*t about his great man. But time has told me it's not that easy.

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Shelter, it looks like that MJLD version you like is from around the summer of 1993, when they were actually recording it for the Greatest Hits record. From the Going Home (TV movie?)....The Heartbreakers had an impromptu session, while Tom took a break from recording Wildflowers. So that would've been one of the earliest band performances of the song.

But what about this: What about the FIRST TIME they played Mary Jane's Last Dance in concert? According to setlist.fm, that would've been on August 14, 1993 - the Viper Room grand opening.

https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/tom-petty-and-the-heartbreakers/1993/the-viper-room-west-hollywood-ca-2bd94cf2.html

Could you imagine seeing this show? At the bottom it says that the setlist is incomplete, as it only mentions 4 songs...but all 4 of those songs listed, all were previously unreleased at the time! Talk about hearing some new/unreleased music! I wonder if there was ever a bootleg recording from this show.....Crawling Back to you?!....a song that wouldn't be released until 15 months later in November 1994.

https://www.setlist.fm/news/08-17/setlist-history-mary-janes-last-dance-debuts-at-viper-room-on-8141993-13d6bd25

 

 

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^ Been thinking the same thing. Here's an official WANTED! flyer for any recording of said show! Never heard of one in all these years, but that does not mean it doesn't exists. Would be so cool. One of the grails for sure.

(As for the above video, obviously the photage is often used to frame the studio version, straight up, just over-dubbing some live noise in the beginning and end. At least that's what I recall. And yes, Going Home video, right you are.)

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21 hours ago, TomFest said:

This is from October 2002, just days after the release of "The Last DJ".  Tom and the band did a 2-night stand at The Olympic Theater in Los Angeles, and it was simulcast to theaters around the country.  I recall paying $10 to see it in Seattle.  They put out a DVD from (I guess) the best versions from both nights.  The website had a thing where the first 100 people that pre-ordered the DVD, received a copy signed by Tom. I got one of those, as did probably many other people here.

As far as it being a grand time in Tom's life - I wouldn't expect that to be the case. The record is a rather melancholy look back at better times.  George Harrison had died less than a year previous, and Howie had been fired from the band, and would pass away a couple of months after this show.

Still, it's one of my very favorite records in his entire catalog.

Maybe my post wasn't clear enough as to what I meant.  It wouldn't be the first time.  :)

What I meant when I asked if it was a grand time in Tom's life, it was because, from what I've seen (and compared to many of you here, that's very limited), he wasn't usually so energetic on stage.  He really got into playing his guitar during that version of the song and seemed to move around more than usual. So I thought that if things were going particularly well for him at that point in his life, it would account for his energy on-stage.

You are very, very fortunate to have gotten one of the DVDs signed by him.  I still can't get over that he's dead.  It seems like forever, and it's only been seven months.

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On 4/14/2018 at 11:27 AM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

One of the last times they played it with Stan. One of the few times actually...!

 

There's nothing quite like that amazing Last DJ 2002 tour version of MJLD. This TV performance above, however, is a close second for me. The Gainesville 1993 performance is up there too. I always thought it was a shame they included the 2006 version of the song on the Live Anthology. It's not bad, but it's tame compared to earlier performances that I think better showcase the song.

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On April 16, 2018 at 12:59 PM, High Grass Dog said:

I always thought it was a shame they included the 2006 version of the song on the Live Anthology. It's not bad, but it's tame compared to earlier performances that I think better showcase the song.

I agree. It's not bad but it's a far cry from the superior 95 or Last Dj versions. Why include a version that hews very close to the original instead of one with consistent jamming that transformed the song? I don't get it. It's the Live Anthology. Certainly they could've found a performance with a good vocal! And if space were a consideration, better to cut a cover. I figure there were a lot of people who'd never heard a lot of TPATH live shows, they would've enjoyed the extended with double time ending of the song. Oh well.

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On April 16, 2018 at 10:22 AM, RedfordCowboy said:

Could you imagine seeing this show? At the bottom it says that the setlist is incomplete, as it only mentions 4 songs...but all 4 of those songs listed, all were previously unreleased at the time! Talk about hearing some new/unreleased music! I wonder if there was ever a bootleg recording from this show.....Crawling Back to you?!

 Would be interesting to hear Stan's take on the song. If there are ever more live recordings released, it would be nice if they focused on unique shows like this, and the one from 96 where they opened with Zero From Outer Space.

cheers

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6 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I agree. It's not bad but it's a far cry from the superior 95 or Last Dj versions. Why include a version that hews very close to the original instead of one with consistent jamming that transformed the song? I don't get it. It's the Live Anthology. Certainly they could've found a performance with a good vocal! And if space were a consideration, better to cut a cover. I figure there were a lot of people who'd never heard a lot of TPATH live shows, they would've enjoyed the extended with double time ending of the song. Oh well.

I think it was just an oversight actually. The Live Anthology project started as a release built around the 2006 Gainesville concert before it mushroomed into the career-scanning mega package. My theory is MJLD was selected early in the game (I'm a Man, Oh Well, RDAD, Southern Accents and IGTBK all come from that same show) and simply never revisited when the project expanded. Missed opportunity for sure.

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3 hours ago, High Grass Dog said:

The Live Anthology project started as a release built around the 2006 Gainesville concert before it mushroomed

 Really? I had heard ages ago about them putting out some kind of retrospective live collection and I think that predates the '06 tour. They could've just released the Gainesville show, while not a favorite of mine I think it would've been a hit since their only other official live album they were known for was Plantation and people would love hearing Stevie duet with Tom etc.

However if your info is correct and it did indeed mushroom than they should've gone with the long version of Mary Jane. On top of that, the version on the Anthology barely takes off at all before coming to an abrupt close. As you said, "Missed opportunity for sure."

Good thing there's so many fan recordings out there!

cheers

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9 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

 

Wow, nice find MJ2LD! I have been looking for this version for years! This technically counts as Howie's last ever appearance and performance with the band. Since they only broadcast "American Girl" on the RRHOF show, footage of MJLD has never appeared, even though we know it was filmed (there was even a brief two-second clip of it in the RDAD documentary). I keep hoping it'll surface someday, but hearing the audio is great.

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On 4/18/2018 at 8:20 AM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Would be interesting to hear Stan's take on the song. If there are ever more live recordings released, it would be nice if they focused on unique shows like this, and the one from 96 where they opened with Zero From Outer Space.

cheers

Totally agree with you, MJLD2!! The only show the band played in 1996, in Beverly Hills, and the only show packed with songs off of the yet-unreleased "She's the One" album. This is #1 on my bootleg wish list. BTW, is that a thread somewhere, a list or rare/desired bootleg shows? That would be fun to explore. I would include the 1996 show and the 1993 Viper Room show on there for starters.

 

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