It should come as no surprise that a prolific songwriter like Eddie Vedder would take inspiration from the likes of Tom Petty. In his latest album Earthling, Vedder put in a secret, but not so secret anymore tribute to the late artist.
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The two got to discussing the first single off the record “Long Way” as Springsteen remarked that he could hear “the ghost of Tom” in the song. Of course, that ghost he’s referring to is none other than Tom Petty.
Vedder expanded on Springsteen’s comments discussing how the song started out with him playing a Guild four-string tenor bass. After recording his playing, he added on some drums and vocals and said it all got together “in an afternoon.”
“I didn’t know what the chords were because I’m playing a Tenor, Vedder said. “I’m just making shapes and sounds and all that.”
When he gave the song to his producer Andrew Watt, Vedder realized that the chords he was playing were pretty standard. “I thought I was coming up with some really interesting ones that’d never been played before,” he said. “It was very simple chords and that was kind of how Tom Petty would write.”
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Vedder realized that he may have been subconsciously channeling inspiration from Tom Petty, so he decided to go all in. “I got to be fairly close to Tom and maybe subconsciously you start writing songs or you write songs that you need to hear,” he said.
“We thought we should put some B3 [organ] on it and we know Benmont [Tench] from The Heartbreakers, so we called Benmont and he came down. I think it was the first time he had pulled the organ out of storage since the last show. It was very, very powerful.”
Springsteen was caught with surprise at the story. “It’s a beautiful sort of secret tribute there,” he told Vedder.