Song: “I Should Have Known It”

A powerful guitar riff and singer combine to melt your ears with this one

According to my daughter, this one qualifies as “a banger.”

Covers of Tom Petty songs continue to emerge to whet our appetite for the June 21st release of Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty. The approach — including Dolly Parton’s excellent cover of Petty’s “Southern Accents” — has already moved the needle in noticeable ways.

And then this one dropped, with one of today’s most popular and arresting performers covering “a banger” that definitely reminds you of the range Petty possessed as a songwriter and performer — there is more than a little Led Zeppelin in this one.

And a lot of Chris Stapleton.

More than a decade ago, Chris Stapleton and Tom Petty connected in a memorable way after Petty complained in a 2013 interview about how Country music had lost its purpose:

Well, yeah I mean, I hate to generalize on a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. I’m sure there are people playing Country that are doing it well, but they’re just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets. But that’s the way it always is, isn’t it?

Stapleton responded with an open letter challenging him to collaborate — to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak:

Dear Tom Petty,

I think it’s safe to say most modern country artists, including me, would list you as an influence. Your recent comments lead me to believe you see room for improvement in modern country music. I, for one, would like to see you put your money where your mouth is in a tangible way. So, in the interest of making Country music less “shitty” (your words), I suggest a collaboration. I’m extending an open invitation to you to write songs with me, produce recordings on or with me, or otherwise participate in whatever way you see fit in my little corner of music. In the event that you actually read this and are interested, look me up.

Chris Stapleton

The two became acquainted soon after, with Stapleton opening for Petty a few times. Their relationship expanded to include Mike Campbell, and the two co-wrote the song “F*ck That Guy” for Campbell’s post-Petty band, The Dirty Knobs.

The song today — “I Should Have Known It” — was released as a single for the 2010 album Mojo, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, matching Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ previous best chart ranking in 1980 for Damn the Torpedoes. This made Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers only the second group — the other is the Rolling Stones — to notch a Top 10 album on the US charts in each decade since the 1970s.

This was Petty’s most enduring song among his post-2000 material. He played it in concert until his death in 2017 — a total of 188 times. It’s a demanding song to play from an equipment standpoint, requiring a detuned guitar (or three!).

In the version recorded for Petty Country, Stapleton sings with his wife — Morgane Stapleton (née Hayes) — providing harmonies. She is an accomplished singer-songwriter herself, having written and sung on songs for Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, and others.

The version below from 2022 includes Mike Campbell.

  • Trivia: Stapleton was voted “Most Stylish” in his high school class, and was also the valedictorian.

Thanks to artists like Stapleton, Parton, and others, Petty Country — and the great songs it will usher forth again — seems destined to allow Petty to posthumously make Country music less “shitty” for some time to come. Heaven knows Stapleton has been doing his part for years now, as well.