“And you don’t know how it feels / You don’t know how it feels to be me,” Tom Petty laments in one of his classic tunes.
Unfortunately, we all don’t know how it feels to be an absolutely iconic artist. Tom Petty has sold over 80 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He was the lead vocalist and guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which was formed in 1976.
One of his most popular albums was “Wildflowers” from 1994. The album features universally beloved hits like the title track, “You Wreck Me,” “It’s Good to Be King,” “A Higher Place,” and others. One of the most popular tracks on the album, produced by Rick Rubin, is the song “You Don’t Know How It Feels.”
The song is an artist’s plea. Petty was singing about his desire for both personal and professional autonomy. The highly personal song was No.1 on the U.S. Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. At the time of its release, the song had been censored by different stations for some of its lyrics. The word “roll” was taken out of “let’s roll another joint.” Other stations would play the word “joint” backward. One even replaced “roll” with “hit.” There were endless variations of the song.
“The strangest thing happened. I wrote this song not thinking that it was controversial in any way and I nearly left this song off the album ’til the very end, and we put it on. Imagine my surprise when this song comes on television and they say, ‘Let’s roll another noojh,’ which sounded worse to me than joint. Because, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a noojh, but it sounds really wicked,” Petty said, according to Song Facts.
Home Studio Version of Tom Petty Tune
Now, fans of Tom Petty and his deep tunes can listen to “You Don’t Know How It Feels” in a totally unchanged way. Maybe we’ll be one step closer to knowing after all.
According to Rolling Stone, the demo of “You Don’t Know How It Feels” was recorded back in 1993 at Petty’s home studio. The demo version had different lyrics than the album version. He had intended to release an expanded version of the “Wildflowers” album. The songs would all showcase his original visions for the tracks. It’s something the album itself seems to long for.
“That album was really about sound in a big way. I would like to go out there and perform the entire album as it was originally conceived with all of the songs,” he told the news outlet in 2017. Unfortunately, Petty died from an accidental drug overdose on October 2, 2017. It was right after Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ended their 40th-anniversary tour.
The unreleased version of the song features an animated video as well. It tells the story of a werewolf and his love interest. The two take a drive down a beautiful moonlit path through the toasty desert. While Petty obviously couldn’t be in the video, producers included the late singer creatively.
You can spot his silhouette in the full moon during one portion of the music video.