Tom Petty Tackles “Tweeter & The Monkey Man”


dylan petty wilburys

To the untrained ear, there’s not a ton of difference in the “thin, wild, mercury-sounding” vocal stylings of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. The two songwriters go way back; Petty and The Heartbreakers first backed their hero on tour in 1986. In 1988, Petty and Dyan found themselves working under a new arrangement — as “Charlie T.” and “Lucky” Wilbury in the once-in-a-lifetime supergroup Traveling Wilburys. The other members were Roy Orbison (Lefty), Jeff Lynne (Otis), and George Harrison (Nelson). Not a bad little combo.

Related: Tom Petty On His Relationship With Bob Dylan

Although it was never released as a single, one of the standout moments of the band’s debut album Vol. 1 is “Tweeter & The Monkey Man,” a Bruce Springsteen-baiting crime story with lead vocals from Dylan. The Springsteen song title references in the lyrics — “Mansion On The Hill, “Thunder Road,” “Factory,” etc. — are only half the fun. The rest comes from the winding narrative (“The undercover cop pulled up and said everyone of yous a liar/ If you don’t surrender now it’s gonna go down to the wire”), set deep in the swamps of Jersey.

Lately, Petty has been busting out “Tweeter & The Monkey Man” on tour, performing it during his run at New York City’s Beacon Theatre and this year’s Hangout Fest.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell shed some light on “Tweeter”s revival:

I like that song a lot. We’ve done “Handle With Care” and “End of the Line” before. One of us said, “Are we going to do a Wilburys song?” We said, “Let’s not do one of those. How about something else?” And Tom said, “How about ‘Tweeter and the Monkey Man?” I remembered the title, but it took until he played the chorus for me to remember how it went. But then it all came back to me, and we played it a few times. The band loved it.

It’s got 10 verses. It’s like a book [laughs]. But it’s cool. I love the way Dylan writes, just on and on. The story is like a movie. 

Watch Petty and The Heartbreakers perform “Tweeter & The Monkey Man” at Beacon Theatre below.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Posts

Nahko and Medicine for the People “Slow Down” on New Single

These days, everyone could use a bit of down time. That’s part of the message in Nahko and Medicine for the People’s...