Musician Tom Petty was this close to giving away an overlooked duet to singer Stevie Nicks. Before the sessions of 1981’s Hard Promises, Petty never wrote a song for another person. But when Nicks asked him to, he sat down with his acoustic guitar to create a masterpiece for the Fleetwood Mac member.
“I just fell in love with his music and his band,” Nicks said in “Petty: The Biography.” “I would laughingly say to anyone that if I ever got to know Tom Petty and could worm my way into his good graces, if he were ever to ask me to leave Fleetwood Mac and join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I’d probably do it — and that was before I even met him!”
Although Petty refused to have any females in his band, it didn’t stop him from writing a song for Nicks. What song was that, you ask? He titled it “Insider” and wrote it in hopes she’d use it on her upcoming solo album, “Bella Donna.”
In 1981, Petty discussed the song with Melody Maker. “When I wrote that song, I wrote it very quickly – I mean maybe in 10, 15 minutes,” he started. “Aaah…well, maybe give me another 10 minutes for the tune. I don’t know.… I just wrote it all down on paper and then I just picked up the guitar and tried to sing each line out. It took me maybe an hour to do that. It don’t happen every day, fans! But the lyrics were real quick.”
More On the Time Tom Petty Almost Gave Away a Duet To Stevie Nicks
Although he only created the song in no more than fifteen minutes, Petty could already smell a work of art. Once Tom Petty got it in his mind that it was the perfect duet for Stevie Nicks, he changed his mind.
“She really liked the song, so we went to do the vocal and she started to sing harmony every time,” Petty discussed with Musician in 1981. “Because my track was playing in her headphones as a guide. So she said, ‘Just let me sing the harmony one time.’ So she did, and when it was over, I just sat there, in awe. She walked back in and said, ‘How was it?’ I said, ‘It’s amazing,'” Petty added. “She said, ‘I can tell by the look on your face, you don’t wanna give me this song. I’m giving it back to you right now.’ I really thought a lot of her for that.”
After beginning to feel guilty about taking “Insider” back as his own, he offered Nicks a song titled “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which appeared on her “Bella Donna” album.
Nicks truly loved “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” She loved it specifically because the song sounded “very rock N’ roll,” which was what Petty was known for and what Nicks was hoping for. “Insider,” however was more similar to what she was used to.
Either way, it sounds like she won in the end.