Despite — or maybe because — being one of the biggest bands on the planet, after the Hard Promises tour Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers went back into the studio to record their fifth album in 6 years, Long After Dark.
But for at least one Heartbreaker, bassist Ron Blair, the pace was too much, and he left the band, to be replaced by Howie Epstein, who had just come off of a successful run on Welcome Back, Kotter.
But before he left, he got to play bass on one last great TP song, maybe my favorite Tom Petty deep cut: the aching, piano-driven mid-tempo stomp “Between Two Worlds.”
With Benmont Tench mercilessly pounding his piano like he’s keeping the beat. Mike Campbell spewing nasty licks in one speaker while Petty is playing buzzing rhythm in the other, “Between Two Worlds” sounds like the dilemma that he’s describing in the lyrics.
I got a dirty, dirty feelin’
That I just can’t shake
Yeah my brain keeps burin’
And my body just aches
Like so many of the songs on Long After Dark, it’s weary as hell; the result of trying to do too much in too short period of time. But, then in the pre-chorus, “Between Two Worlds” temporarily changes from the drone it’s built and jumps into a an almost ecstatic question.
Yeah, I know a woman’s body is only flesh and bone
A woman’s body is only flesh and bone
How come I can’t let go?
Of course that question is rhetorical. He knows exactly why he can’t let go, no matter how much he wants to. And he clearly really really wants to.
I’m between two worlds
I said “oh yeah”
I’m out of my mind
I’m between two worlds
And then after the first chorus, with a “hey!!” they go back to that pre-chorus — but only instrumentally — for just a couple of measures, and it’s always surprising as hell; one of my favorite moments on all of his records.
After that, he’s muttering about “the danger zone” like he’s Sterling Archer, and Campbell is beating him over the head with his guitar, and in response, near the end of the song, Petty himself takes a solo, which surprises Stan Lynch so much, he stutters on his drum roll, no doubt much to Jimmy Iovine’s chagrin.
“Between Two Worlds” was never a single, but it’s probably my all-time favorite song to sing like Tom Petty, pinching up my nose to sing “I gnaw a wooomon’s body is anly flash an bawhn” and swallowing and mumbling “Ihime outta mah mynd” whenever it comes on the mix.
Between Two Worlds
Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page