The track finds the Lumineers deftly transforming Petty’s ramshackle 1996 rocker into a simple folk-stomper, bolstered by acoustic guitar, accordion and tambourine. Lumineers singer and guitarist Wesley Schultz cloaks his vocals with a bit of distant static that adds a poignant warmth, as he and the rest of the group harmonize, “You’ve got a heart so big/ It could crush this town/ And I can’t hold out forever/ Even walls fall down.”
In 2017, the Lumineers opened a handful of shows for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, while that same year they performed “Walls” at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year Gala, where Petty was the honoree. Schultz recalled, “After we played, Petty told me how much he liked and appreciated the version, which was a great honor. This is our way of paying homage to him.”
All proceeds from the Lumineers’ cover of “Walls” will be donated to MusiCares, which provides people in the music industry financial, medical and personal assistance in times of need. The Lumineers released their most recent record, Cleopatra, in 2016.
Petty died last October of an accidental overdose of pain medication. Last month, the first official posthumous Petty release arrived, the expansive box set An American Treasure, filled with studio outtakes, demos, alternative takes, live songs and fan favorites. Petty’s team is reportedly also considering a deluxe edition of his 1994 LP Wildflowers and a live set commemorating his 1997 residency at the Fillmore in San Francisco.