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(Credit: Mark Spowart / Alamy)


The Tom Petty song inspired by Electric Light Orchestra


Tom Petty was a man who was happy to wear his influences on his sleeve. Even though it was a uniquely southern-fried version of their sound, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers brought the Rickenbacker-heavy jangle of The Byrd back into mainstream rock, while the sunny melodies of The Beatles’ psychedelic rock era were never far from Petty’s mind.

It turned out that Petty was a walking encyclopedia for music. That included classic garage rock, old-school soul, Buddy Holly, and everything in between. That aptitude didn’t stop when Petty himself became a contemporary star, as he was constantly keeping his ear to the ground for how the tides of popular music were turning. Petty wasn’t afraid to adapt to the times because he knew, no matter what, he was always going to sound like himself.

That’s why Petty wasn’t afraid to take some cues from Jeff Lynne and orchestral rock giants Electric Light Orchestra. Lynne would eventually become Petty’s bandmate in the Traveling Wilburys and his producer on albums like Full Moon Fever, but if Petty had gotten his way, he and Lynne would have been collaborators a lot sooner. Before he and Lynne officially began working together, Petty pulled from Lynne’s style while writing the Long After Dark single ‘Change of Heart’.

“I was trying to write an ELO kind of song,” Petty confessed in 2005 for the book Conversations with Tom Petty. “I think the inspiration was ‘Do Ya’. I was a fan of ELO. And I knew Jeff Lynne when he was in The Move. We used to listen to The Move. We’d get the records imported from England. Benmont [Tench] would get them. So I actually wanted Jeff Lynne to produce our second record, You’re Gonna Get It.”

Adding: “I don’t know why it never happened. I think it was that he was too busy, and he didn’t do outside productions at the time. But I wanted to bring him in then and do a record with him. I always had this hope that we could get to work with him.”

Specifically, it was the way Lynne used progressions in ‘Do Ya’ that inspired Petty. “I loved the way he used chords,” Petty gushed. “So I was trying to write my own kind of riff like that. And I think the words came later. I don’t think I had the title till later. […] But, yeah, I think I wanted it to sound like ‘Do Ya’. [Sings crunchy guitar chords.] I wanted to do something that had that kind of guitar, and that was the kick-off point. Not one of my great songs. But it’s a good rock song.”

Check out both ‘Change of Heart’ and ‘Do Ya’ down below.