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Love Letter To A Record: Big White’s Jack T Wotton On Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ ‘Damn The Torpedoes’

Written by Jack T Wotton on March 27, 2018

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.


Jack T Wotton, Big White – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ Damn The Torpedoes

Dear Tom,

“Out of the depths of my happy heart wells a great tide of love and prayer for this priceless treasure that is confined to my life-long keeping.” – Mark Twain

The first and last time I DJ’d I didn’t bring a USB. I brought with me two burnt CD’s instead. It’s all I needed for a good night.

1. Tommy Petty and The Heartbreakers — Damn the Torpedoes

2. Tommy Petty and The Heartbreakers — The Greatest Hits

I spun your tracks from the left side to the right side Tom, east to west coast on my CDJ. That night I brought the house down. At least my own house, where I was sat on the edge of my bed alone in my room eating packets of mustard whilst simultaneously reading your Wikipedia. Sat there spilling black coffee on my denim jeans as I tweaked the multi-fx knob for a fat phase drop out of ‘Here Comes My Girl’ into ‘Century City’, I found myself in a moment of realisation. The Greatest Hits and Damn the Torpedoes are the same album. Without a shadow of a doubt.

Where was I, TP, when you spent 200 days straight in a studio basement with four smelly Heartbreakers sharpening that third album blade to a threatening 9-tracker?

Where was I, TP, when you wouldn’t hand the album over to the label because they wanted to charge the public ten bucks a pop?

Where was I, TP, when you had different drivers after every session taking your tape reel masters 50 miles out of town to an undisclosed location, burying them in the ground every night, just to make sure those label scum never found them?

Where was I, TP, when you decided that making dolphin sounds with your voice was a good way to punctuate lead breaks?

Where was I, TP, when Dylan, Lynne, Harrison and The Big ‘O fell in love with you? Where was I when you made them happy again?

Where was I, TP, when you finally let Stevie Nicks write a song with you?

Where was I, TP, when your drummer quit an hour before your comeback gig at The Viper Room but it was OK because Ringo was only a phone call away?

Where was I? What were you doing in my life? While you were running down a dream, I was waiting Tom. The hardest part. Waiting to be born. Waiting to come into a world where Damn The Torpedoes exists. That’s the only world I want to live in, babe.

One day we will meet up, Louisiana rain falling at our feet. I’m imagining rock and roll heaven has diners. Oh and I was gonna ask if you can put me on the door? Let’s do home fries and black coffee on the counter there. I’ll have mine sunny side up if you don’t mind. Alright good. We’ll do home fries and talk it up, TP. I wanna know what those Heartbreakers days were like. I don’t wanna hear B-sides don’t worry. DTT is enough, trust me. I wanna know how you did it. But that’s alright if you got nothing to say, I get it. It was magic. Baby you tell me. I get it. Alright let’s do a refill, grab this bill and get outta here, we got more A&R assholes in heaven to deal with up here than we do down there. The worst kind. The ones who earn more and work less. Alright alright, no, forget about it, don’t do me like that, I got the bill let’s go.

Who knows TP? I could be so lucky… even the losers get lucky sometimes.

Forever your heart’s refugee,

Jacky

Big White’s new album Street Talk is out this Friday, 30th March via Spunk following their performance at SXSW.

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