The song Tom Petty claims was stolen from him

Tom Petty

Most of the time, composing songs is a cutthroat industry. There is just as much rivalry between musicians who strive to create something better than anything else on the charts. However, there is also admiration for the notion of their favorite musicians getting along. It’s one thing to be at war with every other rock group on the planet. Tom Petty found himself in hot water when the song “Ways to Be Wicked” was taken right out of his repertoire.

But Petty had already accumulated an enormous library of timeless songs before he had even begun to collaborate with the Heartbreakers. Nothing could blow up, but nobody writes a song better than “Don’t Do Me Like That.” Once a sizable band is on their side, they don’t anticipate success eluding them.

Because of his background in music, Petty was aware that he needed to be meticulous when writing songs. For most songwriters, the creative process never ends. It typically entails giving it your all each and every day, aiming to produce at least one song suitable for an album.

Actually, former producer Denny Cordell put Petty in his place. Ron Blair remembered in Runnin’ Down a Dream that Tom was working on a song, but it wasn’t coming together. Denny asked, “What else do you have?” and Tom replied, “That was it,” as he glanced down. And Denny, in a very kind way, told him, “Look, son, you got to have songs when you come in the studio,” kind of reading him the riot act. I believe his songwriting rate doubled at that point.

Jimmy Iovine welcomed Petty to the New York producer’s studio with an abundance of music for Damn the Torpedoes. “Ways to Be Wicked” had the potential to be a great song if Iovine hadn’t gotten to it before Petty. Still, no one could write songs like “Here Comes My Girl” and “Refugee” as well as Petty could.

Petty recalled that Iovine took the song and gave it to another band before he could finish it, stating, “That was the one that Jimmy stole,” during a conversation with Paul Zollo. He delivered it to Lone Justice after taking it there. It was really difficult for us to obtain. However, Jimmy took our best effort and gave it to Lone Justice. He never really asked me anything. I learned about it afterwards.

While listening to the Lone Justice version of the song isn’t bad, there is still a little too much Heartbreakers magic in it. Although the Heartbreakers’ rendition can be found on the compilation Playback, it seems like something they could have expanded upon for a record like Southern Accents had they decided to turn it into a double record.

Granted, after Iovine started working on Stevie Nicks’s solo records, Petty did receive some payback. Petty collaborated with producer Dave Stewart to rework the lyrics of the song. It eventually became “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” one of his own masterpieces. Though it’s hardly the most accommodative course of action, in the Wild West of songwriting, everything is fair.

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