Rebecca Lehmann | Copper Nickel | Spring 2019 | 11 minutes (2,188 words)
I rediscovered the music video for Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” in the fall of 2015. My son was less than a year old, and I’d just returned from maternity leave to my job as an English professor in upstate New York. On Fridays, I’d put in my headphones, walk to campus, keep the light in my office turned off so nobody knew I was in, and write poems.
Sometimes a song I listened to on my walks would get stuck in my head, an earworm, playing over and over. This was the case with “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” and watching the song’s accompanying music video on YouTube only pulled me in further. The video, like many of Petty’s music videos, has seemingly little to do with the song. The song, from the 1985 album Southern Accents, tells the story of a breakup. Petty croons about a relationship gone bad, imploring a former lover to stay away, leave him alone: “I don’t feel you anymore. You darken my door. Whatever you’re looking for — Hey! — don’t come around here no more!” A creeping sitar riff repeats throughout the piece.