On a rainy day earlier this summer, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Lilly Hiatt found themselves back home in Nashville, swapping harmonies during a poignant, folky cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ “Walls.”
“This was a special day,” remembers Hiatt. “Aaron and I got together this past summer at John Little’s studio, Magnetic Sound, with no real direction. We just knew we were all in town and wanted to make something together. A storm was brewing as we decided to record a song that means so much to us. We chose ‘Walls’ because we all are massive Tom Petty fans and relate to that song from the opening line to the last word.”
“The melody is as timeless as the Everly Brothers,” adds Tasjan, whose guitar work drives the song forward, “and we thought it’d be a great fit to sing as a duet. Tom’s music really brings people together, and we were happy to be singing one of his many incredible tunes together that day. Now that he’s passed, we wanted to release it in his name and provide people another opportunity to donate to the Music Health Alliance in Tom’s remembrance.”
With proceeds from the song’s Bandcamp sales going toward Music Heath Alliance, a nonprofit organization that helps secure insurance and other medical services for musicians, the duo’s scaled-down revision of “Walls” is both beautiful and bittersweet. For Hiatt, the song reflects the atmosphere that swirled its way through the studio that day, with two road-worn musicians reconnecting and reinterpreting the sounds of their influences.
“Guards came down and magic followed,” she says of the recording process. “It was pouring rain all day and I felt gleeful, like a little kid. I think we all did. Some days are diamonds, and this certainly was one of those. Tom Petty, you will be greatly missed.”