Behind The Song: Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

"It was Stevie Nicks' mission in life that I should write her a song," Tom Petty said.


Writing a great song is tricky enough, but writing a standout duet is an even more difficult bit of business than that. After all, you have to make room for two contrasting perspectives without pulling the song apart at the seams in the process. And, since the majority of duets are inter-gender, you have to be able to write believably for the opposite sex.

Most people would agree that Tom Petty pulled off one of the great duets in rock history when he penned “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around” and joined Stevie Nicks on the justly celebrated recording. The only problem with that story is that the song wasn’t meant to be a duet at all.

As Petty recalled to author Paul Zollo in the book Conversations With Tom Petty, the Fleetwood Mac chanteuse was enamored with his music and wanted him to write a song for her. “Stevie came to me around ’78,” he said. “And she was this absolutely stoned-gone, huge fan. And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song. And we were a little wary of Stevie. We didn’t quite know whether to like Stevie or not, because we kind of saw this big corporate rock band, Fleetwood Mac, which was wrong, they were actually artistic people. But in those days, nobody trusted that sort of thing and we just kept thinking, ‘What does she want from us.’”

Nicks was persistent and Petty eventually attempted a song for Nicks to be included on her first solo album. He wrote a ballad called “Insider,” but when the two sang it together, Petty liked it so much he decided to keep it for himself. He included it on The... Sign In to Keep Reading

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