Released November, 1979
"It's just the normal noises in here."
Yeah, just what you would've expected from Petty in 1979, but "Damn the Torpedoes" is anything but normal. It's like the band operated from within some genius brain. I don't think it's all Jimmy Iovine's doing but someone, something, made one of the greatest albums ever and in the fall and spring 79-80 I suddenly realized what it was to be an individual. I mean look at the cover! Signature black suit coat, probably velvet, a simple red shirt, and a Rickenbaker so cool I bought one. Hell, I bought the whole goddamn look. "Damn the Torpedoes," song for song, taught me what it meant to be cool and at 15 I really needed to be cool. I'd had enough of Darren Kinney spitting on me in the halls of Parkview High.
I didn't really have a connection with "I'm One" by The Who in 1979 but "Even the Losers" proved to me that the best music isn't written by bullies. The best pop songs are about everyday guys and gals getting off or getting one over on the Nugents of the world.
Ever have a summer when it was just you and the girl or guy at the lake? Or your neighbor that you've always hung out with but when the hair started to grow all you could really think about was them? That's where the guy in "Even the Losers" lives. It's the moment. That time when nothing else matters but hanging out on the roof, smoking mom's stolen Pall Malls, and pointing out things that are further away then the nearest star. Three months of lovin', touchin', and squeezin' and then at the end of it all they're gone. They're all you can think about and school really sucks.
Who knew that guys like you could get that lucky? Skipping rocks, skinny dipping, heavy petting, and maybe making it to a Babys song. It may never happen again and part of you hopes that it never does. "God it's such a drag when you're livin in the past."
Big Rickenbaker chords and a simple D-A-G melody aren't all it really takes for "Even the Losers" to work. Stan Lynch's shaker and fuck-all fills combined with Benmont Tench's great, thick, Hammond chords texture and frame the song through the first two verses and chorus. They give a little extra in the bridge but after the last chorus, as Mike Campbell plays a second solo that shoots the song home, the whole band just makes you move. The Heartbreakers spin you with the promise that everything after this moment is going to be awesome and that "even the losers get lucky sometime."
ap - 2008