It’s fascinating watching the making of the Wilburys and the process by which they realised a track. Jeff Lynn recalled, ‘Just sitting around in a circle, like 5 of us just strumming acoustic guitars and coming up with a song in a couple of hours. It was almost ready to record. It was unbelievable stuff…The whole thing took six weeks from the first chord to the finished mix of the last song.‘
Petty said, ‘The whole experience was just some of the best days of my life and I think it was probably for us all. The thing that might be hard to understand is what good friends we were..it was a bunch of friends that just happened to be really good at making music….None of this would have happened without him (George Harrison). It was George’s band and it was a dream he had for a long time.’
Handle With Care is the 4th song to feature here from The Traveling Wilburys, but it was the debut hit single as the opening track of their album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. I think it’s one of the most significant songs of the last 50 years. It peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, number 2 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart and was a top-five hit in Australia and New Zealand.
According to wikipedia: The song was the first recording made by the group, although it was originally intended as a bonus track on a European single by George Harrison. When he and Jeff Lynne presented the song to Harrison’s record company, the executives insisted it was too good for that purpose, a decision that resulted in the formation of the Wilburys. With no professional studios available at such short notice, Harrison phoned Bob Dylan, who agreed to let them use his garage studio in Malibu (see image left – wikipedia). Tom Petty, who had also been working with Lynne in Los Angeles, was invited the following day, when Harrison went to retrieve his guitar from Petty’s house. George said, I have the first lines, ‘Been beat up and battered around‘, and Dylan asked: ‘So what will we call it‘? George saw a box laying there with the sticker and responded ‘Handle With Care‘ and Dylan responded ‘Oh yeh. Good.’
Been beat up and battered around
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found
Handle me with care
But, baby, you’re adorable
Handle me with care
I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?
Coupled with a fantastic lyric, this song has a stupendous acoustic and vocal harmony. I was in awe from first listen. I don’t know how many times I have heard this song over the years, but it’s a lot and I still find it a very pleasureable listening experience. It was an exceptional launching pad for the group. Petty and his band the Heartbreakers often performed Handle with Care in concert. Lynne sang it with them at the Concert for George, a year after Harrison’s death in November 2001. The music video below for Handle with Care was filmed at an abandoned brewery near Union Station in Los Angeles.
1. Hand With Care (song) – The Traveling Wilburies