Hard Promises Explained

Hard Promises
Type:Album
Artist:Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Recorded:1980–81 at Sound City, Van Nuys, Cherokee Studios, Hollywood, CA and Goodnight, LA
Genre:Heartland rock
Length:39:33
Label:Backstreet
Producer:Jimmy Iovine, Tom Petty
Last Album:Damn the Torpedoes
(1979)
This Album:Hard Promises
(1981)
Next Album:Long After Dark
(1982)

Hard Promises is the fourth album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released in May, 1981. Its original working title was Benmont's Revenge.[1] The album features guest vocals from Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac on the duet "Insider." The Heartbreakers also recorded the hit "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" for Nicks' album Bella Donna around the time Hard Promises was recorded.

This was the second Tom Petty album on the Backstreet Records label. The album's release was delayed while Petty and his distributor MCA Records argued about the list price. The album was slated to be the next MCA release with the new list price of $9.98, following Steely Dan's Gaucho and the Olivia Newton-John/Electric Light Orchestra Xanadu soundtrack. This so-called "superstar pricing" was $1.00 more than the usual list price of $8.98.[2] Petty voiced his objections to the price hike in the press and the issue became a popular cause among music fans. Non-delivery of the album or naming it Eight Ninety-Eight were considered, but eventually MCA decided against the price increase.[3]

During the recording of the album John Lennon was scheduled to be in the same studio at the same time. Tom Petty was looking forward to meeting him when he came in. The meeting never occurred; unfortunately, John Lennon was murdered before he could ever make it into the studio. In order to pay tribute to one of their influences the band decided to etch "WE LOVE YOU JL" on the master copy of the album. To this day "WE LOVE YOU JL" is seen on every Hard Promises vinyl copy pressed.[4] The album's title comes from a line in the chorus of "Insider."

Track listing

All songs were written by Tom Petty, except where noted.

Side one

  1. "The Waiting" – 3:58
  2. "A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)" (Petty, Mike Campbell) – 4:22
  3. "Nightwatchman" (Petty, Campbell) – 3:59
  4. "Something Big" – 4:44
  5. "Kings Road" – 3:27

Side two

  1. "Letting You Go" – 3:24
  2. "A Thing About You" – 3:33
  3. "Insider" – 4:23
  4. "The Criminal Kind" – 4:00
  5. "You Can Still Change Your Mind" (Petty, Campbell) – 4:15

Personnel

Additional musicians:

Notes and References

  1. Goldstein, Patrick. "Pop Eye" Los Angeles Times Sept. 21, 1980: T80.
  2. Goldstein, Patrick. "Petty Battling MCA Over Record Price Hike" Los Angeles Times February 1, 1981: N72.
  3. Marsh, Dave. "Tom Petty" Musician July 1981: 43.
  4. Conversations with Tom Petty by Paul Zollo