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Music

See rare footage of Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty recording 'Stop Dragging My Heart Around'

@SamWKemp

Looking to step into the studio with Stevie Nicks? That might be a little pie-in-the-sky, but we’ve bought you the next best thing: salvaged footage of Nicks and Tom Petty working on ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ from the 1981 solo album Bella Donna.

Gloriously fuzzy, this video footage shows the pair recording the vocal tracks for the single, a point in which performers tend to be at their most vulnerable. It’s a fascinating insight into how Petty and Nicks worked in the studio and a testament to their professionalism.

The pair met while he recording The Heartbreaker’s 1979 album Damn The Torpedoes. She was blown away by Petty’s talent as a songwriter and half-jokingly asked if he could record a single for her debut solo album. Petty didn’t take the request seriously until a year later when Nicks got in touch again.

To Nicks’ surprise, Petty said yes, and so he set about writing a track called ‘Insider’. As usual, he ran it by his band, and after they gave their consent he sent a demo version to Nicks. But after the pair recorded the track, Nicks couldn’t stand to take it away from Petty. “You love this so much,” she told him. “YOU take the song.”

In return, Petty wrote Nicks another song with the help of guitarist Mike Campell. He sent ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ to Nicks, who adored the track, saying, “That’s what I wanted all along.” The track, like so many great ballads, tells the story of a couple in the midst of a complex relationship. It’s the classic Nashville narrative: she wants to leave, he doesn’t want to let her go – hence her cries for him to “stop dragging my heart around.”

It was also the perfect single for Nicks, who had spent her career with Fleetwood Mac singing songs of thwarted love, often about people she knew very well. If one thing is clear from the below footage it’s that Nicks found a great deal of pleasure in singing a song that had absolutely nothing to do with her own love life. Although, it has to be said that Nicks did end up stepping into a relationship (and subsequently living with) producer Jimmy Iovine.

As you can imagine, this made the recording sessions for Bella Donna a little more complicated than they otherwise would have been. Make sure you check out the footage of Nicks and Petty working on ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ below.