Stop Draggin' My Heart Around
by Stevie Nicks (featuring Tom Petty)

Album: Bella Donna (1981)
Charted: 50 3


  • Petty met Nicks while he was recording his group's album Damn The Torpedoes. She asked him half-jokingly if he could write her a song that she could record for her first solo album. Petty didn't take her request seriously at first, but Nicks reiterated her request a year later as Petty was putting together his Hard Promises album. Petty wrote a ballad called "Insider" at his home, played it to the Heartbreakers (to their approval), recorded a demo with his band, and sent the demo to Nicks. After listening to the demo of "Insider," Nicks visited Petty at his studio, taped the song with Petty and the Heartbreakers, then gave the tape to Petty, saying, "You love this so much... YOU take the song." He did, and included it on Hard Promises.

    Shortly after "Insider" was finished, Petty and company recorded a song that he and guitarist Mike Campbell composed about a year earlier - "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" - and sent that demo to Nicks' producer, Jimmy Iovine. She loved it, saying, "That's what I wanted all along." Nicks and Petty ended up doing it as a duet.
  • This song is about a couple with a complicated relationship. She wants to get rid of him, but he has a hold on her heart. When she tells him to stop dragging that heart around, he explains that he's just trying to protect her, as "you need someone looking after you."

    Many of the songs Nicks has sung over the years involve hearts in different states of breaking, and many are about her intimate relationships, written either by her or her Fleetwood Mac bandmate/soulmate, Lindsey Buckingham. This song is one of the few she could sing without dealing with the emotional baggage behind it, as it has nothing to do with her personally.
  • Nicks wanted Petty to produce Bella Donna. He gave it a shot, but it didn't work out and Jimmy Iovine was brought in. This created an interesting dynamic as Iovine and Nicks began living together while they were making the album.
  • This was the biggest hit for either Stevie Nicks (as a solo act) or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (who had a competing single out - "Woman In Love" - that didn't chart). Five years later, they joined forces again and hit #37 with a live version of the Springfields/Searchers classic "Needles and Pins."
  • In addition to being The Heartbreakers' guitarist, Mike Campbell has played on albums by many other artists, including several by Stevie Nicks. He told us how this came together: "I had written the music and Tom had written the words. 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. We cut the track as a Heartbreakers record and when she decided to do it we used that track and she came in and sang over it." (Read more in our interview with Mike Campbell.)
  • This had the good fortune of being released around the time MTV went on the air. They didn't have many videos at the time, so this got a lot of airplay. It introduced a younger audience to Nicks and Petty.
  • Bella Donna was Nicks' first solo album. Her output with Fleetwood Mac sold extremely well, but solo success was hardly ensured. When Nicks finished the album, her producer Jimmy Iovine told her she didn't have a single, and if she didn't record "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," "your record's going to tank and then you're not going to have a solo career."

    Nicks was dismayed about removing one of the songs on the album to make room for the track, but she took Iovine's advice. "I went home and said, 'You've got to drop this self-esteem you've got going on right now and realize that the whole reason you even hired Jimmy Iovine was because he produced Tom Petty and you always wanted to be in Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers," Nicks said while introducing the song in concert. "I said: 'Okay, I'll do it.' So, anyway, 'Stop Draggin' My Heart' became a huge single, all because Mr. Tom Petty was generous enough to give me that song."

    The song was released as the first single and rose to #3, setting the stage for more hits. The next single was another duet: "Leather And Lace" with Don Henley, which reached #6. It wasn't until the third single that Nicks was finally on her own: "Edge Of Seventeen" reached #11.
  • A few years after this was released, Dave Stewart of Euryhmics wrote "Don't Come Around Here No More," which he and Iovine started producing for Nicks. By this time, Iovine and Nicks had broken up, and when she came over to work on the song, things didn't go well and she stormed out. Iovine brought in Tom Petty and they completed the song with him, something Nicks knew was fair considering "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" went on her album. (as told in The Dave Stewart Songbook)
  • On her 2001 album Trouble In Shangri-La, Nicks thanked Petty in the liner notes. She asked him to write another song for her, but he refused and encouraged her to write it herself. After that conversation, she started writing songs for the album.
  • Tom Petty had a connection to another song on the album. His wife, Jane, told Nicks that she was "at the age of 17" when she met Tom. Like her husband, Jane was from Gainesville, Florida, and had such a strong country accent that Stevie thought she said "edge of 17," which provided the title for one of her most popular songs.
  • In the liner notes to her TimeSpace album, Stevie Nicks said: "Jimmy (Iovine) played this song to me while he was still finishing Tom's album; it was one of those songs that Tom was not going to do, and he told Jim that I could do it. I wasn't used to doing other people's songs, so I didn't really like the idea at first, but I loved Tom Petty, so I agreed to try. So we went into the studio and sang it live, together. I was completely entranced, and I instantly fell into love with the song. Duets were the things I loved the most... maybe this was a second beginning. And we would sing like no one else, and nobody else would ever sing like us." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Shawna - Phoenix, AZ
  • Chrissie Hynde would often play the Petty role in this song when she toured with Nicks in the '00s. They would often ham it up and crack each other up during the duet.
  • Petty and Nicks reunited to perform this song when Petty was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year on February 10, 2017.
  • Before giving her induction speech, Harry Styles sang this with Nicks when she entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 as a solo artist.

Comments: 14

  • Jay Alenby from DenverThis story is not consistent with other stories about this song from the recording engineers. Tom Petty did not write this song for Stevie Nicks. He was pissed when Iovine gave it to Nicks. Tom Petty had already recorded the song weeks before Iovine asked Nicks to come into the studio to record vocals for it.
  • Eric from Camas, WaThe melody of the verses bears a strong resemblance to that of the verses of CSNY's "Ohio," the only real difference being the beat.
  • Chris from Alden, NyThis song was actualy inspired by Tom Pettys divorce from his wife, after she had taken him to court.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyHere's #10 on my all-time list. I've always loved Stevie Nicks' voice and the way she phrases songs: She's more like a jazz/blues singer, sort of a cross between Billie Holliday and Joni Mitchell. (If you like any of these singers, you should check out Madeleine Peyroux, if you haven't already!)

    In this song, I feel,l Nicks brought out a dimension to Tom Petty we didn't hear much on his work with the Heartbreakers. I mean, their work isn't shallow, but they never had to show quite the range of emotion we hear in this song. What this song (and Stevie) did for Tom Petty now makes me think of Sean Penn in the film "Dead Man Walking." Before "Dead Man" came out, everyone knew Sean had the talent and could do a "meaty" role. But he didn't have the opportunity to do that before "Dead Man." Likewise for Tom Petty and this song.

    Plus, this song showed just how well Tom could write: Again, I like much of what he did with the Heartbreakers, but I think this song expanded the range of what he could write--as well as sing.

    Major kudos to Stevie and Tom!
  • J from Pittsburgh, PaIn Carol Ann Harris' book, she says Lindsey Buckingham called this song "Stop Draggin My Career Around."
  • Dennis from Las Vegas, Nv"then gave the tape to Petty, saying, "You love this so much... YOU take the song." He did, and included it on Hard Promises...... um this aint on my copy of Hard promises......
  • Jeffrey Walton from Maui, Lahaina, HiI met Stevie at her mother Barbaras' House in Paradise Valley Arizona right before WILD HEART was released. Stevie was sitting at her Mothers Breakfast table drawing. It was about midnight and she was wearing legwarmers and the pupils of her eyes looked like black moons. The drawing was of a dragon with a tear in its eye holding a heart in its mouth. Hence the song "Stop draggin my Heart Around!
  • Steve from Torrance, CaStevie also sang on "You can still change your mind", which appears on Tom Petty's "Hard Promises" album with "Insider".
  • Karen from Homestead, FlI was a very jealous person back in the day. You are awesome. Thank you Stevie
  • Karen from Homestead, FlFinally, I have grown up enough to realize Tom and Stevie put perfect words together I'm now 38 and no longer bitter, Stevie you look and perform absolutly A1 Thank you for your beautiful words and voice. thanks, karen
  • Julian from Anaheim, CaI heard Tom and Stevie were doing more than singing together, if you KNOW what i mean. Anyways this is a killer song, it rocks.
  • Melissa from Seattle, Wai love this video for this song. tom worked with stevie on alot of other songs . l like the demo 24 karate gold.. ( which was never released) and a few more..
  • Lisa from Ball Ground, GaThe song that Stevie wrote as a thank you to Petty on Trouble in Shangri-La was "That Made Me Stronger."
  • Jessica from Saint Louis, MoWeird Al Yankovic did a parody of this song, "Stop Draggin' My Car Around."
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