FFWDing to the Best Part: “Handle With Care,” Traveling Wilburys (1988)

Tuesday’s Damn Yankees post got me thinking about so-called “supergroups.”  Of course, my all-time favorite is Tinted Windows — Smashing Pumpkins, Fountains of Wayne, Cheap Trick, HANSON, represent! — but the most impressive, from an A-List-possessing standpoint, is obviously the Traveling Wilburys.  These superstars (and, ahem, Jeff Lynne) got together through happenstance, good fortune, and perhaps a little boredom, and seemed to have a damn good time making music together (even beyond Roy Orbison’s untimely passing).

“Handle With Care” essentially gives you three songs in just over three minutes.  You have the perfectly pleasant, old-time-rock-and-roll verses (led by George Harrison).  Then in comes Roy Orbison, all plaintive and soaring and talking — as he does — about loneliness.  Finally, Bob Dylan/Tom Petty join forces for a semi-snarling, almost accidentally melodic bridge.

The song is catchy, folksy, and sweet, and stands the test of time.  But the …

Best part? 2:30 – 2:45. In the last regular stanza of the verse, the harmony takes greater focus, and the story comes to a conclusion with the acknowledgment of “the sweet smell of success.”  Oh, George.  You are missed.

RUNNER UP: 3:03. After a semi-hard stop, the opening musical theme returns to play us out, this time with harmonicas!

P.S. Who’s that poor bastard playing drums?

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3 thoughts on “FFWDing to the Best Part: “Handle With Care,” Traveling Wilburys (1988)

  1. The drummer is probably Jim Keltner, longtime Beatle adjunct and popular session musician: http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Jim_Keltner.html

    I’ll grant that Jeff Lynne has nowhere near the name recognition of Petty, Dylan, Harrison, and Orbison, all of whom had many hits under their own names. However, a brief perusal of Lynne’s own discography reveals that although the vocals and tunes of the Wilburys came from the big names, the overall sound of the Wilburys is pure Lynne, as heard in tracks like:

    Don’t Bring Me Down (Electric Light Orchestra, 1979): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9nkzaOPP6g

    Xanadu (Olivia Newton-John, 1980): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA

    Got My Mind Set on You (George Harrison, 1987): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZGYYDvZnpg

    You Got It (Roy Orbison, 1988): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-6a9jC-K8I

    Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty, 1989): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1D3a5eDJIs

    Into the Great Wide Open (Tom Petty, 1991): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqmFxgEGKH0

    Lynne’s own band ELO is like the Rosetta Stone of 70s rock, starting with very Beatlesy stuff early in the decade, going through symphonic rock to land in disco late in the decade.

  2. One of my HS boyfriends was OBSESSED with Jeff Lynne (and had a fake ID with that name) so I still think there are random JL facts rattling around in my brain.

  3. Pingback: FFWDing to the Best Part: “Kind of a Girl,” Tinted Windows (2009) | Neurotic City

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