Single Stories: Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, STOP DRAGGIN' MY HEART AROUND

Thursday, July 8, 2021

When Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers broke out in the late 1970s, the band garnered legions of adoring fans. Among them: Fleetwood Mac singer, Stevie Nicks. Given her status among the rock 'n' roll hierarchy, it wasn't long before she started hanging around the band--much to Petty's chagrin.

"Stevie came to me around '78, and she was this absolutely stoned-gone, huge fan," Petty told author Paul Zollo in the book Conversations With Tom Petty. "And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song. And we were a little wary of Stevie. We didn't quite know whether to like Stevie or not, because we kind of saw this big corporate rock band, Fleetwood Mac, which was wrong, they were actually artistic people. But in those days, nobody trusted that sort of thing and we just kept thinking, 'What does she want from us?'"

"I just fell in love with his music and his band," Nicks said in the book Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. "I would laughingly say to anyone that if I ever got to know Tom Petty and could worm my way into his good graces, if he were ever to ask me to leave Fleetwood Mac and join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I'd probably do it - and that was before I even met him!"

As Nicks became friends with Petty's wife at the time, Jane Benyo, the rocker soon warmed up to Nicks' presence. When he did decide to write her a song, what he came up with was the song "Insider." Petty soon realized that the song wasn't just among the best he'd ever written, but the key to the Heartbreakers next album: Hard Promises, with the title taken from "Insider." When he broke it to Nicks that he was going to keep the song, she said that she understood. He kept her on the track, and featured the Fleetwood Mac singer in the music video.

Petty felt bad enough that he offered up a handful of other songs he had from the Hard Promises sessions. Nicks immediately snapped up "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."

"Had he not given me that song, let me candidly tell you, Bella Donna might not have been a hit," Nicks revealed to Rolling Stone in 2019. "That song kicked Bella Donna right into the universe. My biggest sadness about (her solo) Hall of Fame (induction) is that Tom is not here to enjoy this with me, because he would have been the proudest of me of anyone."

"'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around' was a song that I had written the music and Tom had written the words," guitarist Mike Campbell explained to Songfacts. "The Heartbreakers had recorded a version of it with Jimmy Iovine, and Jimmy being the entrepreneur that he was, he was working with Stevie, and I guess he asked Tom if she could try it, and it just developed from there."

When Iovine brought the finished version to Petty, it's safe to say that the singer was somewhat shook. "He plays me 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around,' the same track, with her singing," Petty revealed in Heartbreakers doc, Runnin' Down A Dream. "I go: 'Jimmy, you just took the song...' His comeback was like: 'This is gonna buy you a house.' But it pissed me off because it came out at the same time as our single ["A Woman in Love"], and I think ours suffered."

Released as the lead single from Bella Donna on July 8, 1981, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" was indeed the solo debut Nicks was looking for. A smash at radio, the iconic video was an early staple on the then-fledgling MTV network, being the 25th clip ever shown on the music channel. On the charts, the tune cruised all the way up the Hot 100 to peak at #3 over the week of September 5, 1981. The two songs that blocked Nicks from #1: Diana Ross and Lionel Richie's "Endless Love" (#1), and the Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand" (#2).