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Aging Boomer Anthems: “Handle Me With Care”

Of the Traveling Wilburys Petty, Harrison, and Orbison are now departed but their melody lingers on. No matter, we’ll see them all a little further down the road.

“Handle with Care” came about through Warner Bros. Records, which distributed George Harrison’s Dark Horse record label, pressing Harrison for an extra track for the European release of his “This Is Love” single. Having arrived in Los Angeles in April 1988, Harrison discussed the request over dinner with Jeff Lynne, his co-producer on the Cloud Nine album, and Roy Orbison, whose album Mystery Girl Lynne was producing at the time. Lynne agreed to help him record the track the following day, and Harrison invited Orbison to attend the session, after Orbison had said he “would like to come along and watch”. With no professional studios available at such short notice,[10] Harrison phoned Bob Dylan, who agreed to let them use his garage studio in Malibu. Tom Petty, who had also been working with Lynne in Los Angeles, was invited the following day, when Harrison went to retrieve his guitar from Petty’s house.

In a 1990 interview for the Dutch television show Countdown, Harrison said that he started writing “Handle with Care” – with a section in mind for Orbison to sing – on the morning of the session. Lynne helped Harrison complete the music for the song when they arrived at Dylan’s house; according to Petty, Harrison had the chord sequence “pretty much” completed beforehand. In another contemporary interview, Harrison recalled that he had the opening line, “Been beat-up and battered around”, but otherwise, the lyrics were the result of a group effort. Harrison asked Dylan, who had been tending a barbecue for the musicians, to “Give us some lyrics, you famous lyricist.” When Dylan asked for a title for the song, Harrison looked around the garage and said, “Handle with Care”, after a label on a box.

All five musicians assisted in writing the song’s lyrics, and sang and played acoustic guitars on the basic track. Harrison said that having already planned Orbison’s segment, he decided to include portions sung by Dylan, Lynne, and Petty.– La Wik

Been beat up and battered ’round
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found
Handle me with care

Reputations changeable
Situations tolerable
Baby, you’re adorable
Handle me with care

I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?

Everybody’s got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I’ve been fobbed off, and I’ve been fooled
I’ve been robbed and ridiculed
In daycare centers and night schools
Handle me with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Handle me with care

I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?

Everybody’s got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I’ve been uptight and made a mess
But I’ll clean it up myself, I guess
Oh, the sweet smell of success
Handle me with care

Songwriters: Bob Dylan / George Harrison / Jeff Lynne / Roy K Orbison / Tom Petty

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Phil in Englewood January 11, 2019, 3:12 AM

    Songwriters: Bob Dylan / George Harrison / Jeff Lynne / Roy K Orbison / Tom Petty

    What an astonishing confluence…

  • csanad January 11, 2019, 6:59 AM

    When you get so much talent in one room, something is gonna happen…

  • Dirk January 11, 2019, 8:56 AM

    I miss those days, deeply. As I age, I spend a lot of time revisiting the highlights, and some low spots in my life. I find the best way to touch my past is via music. That music seems to trigger many many forgotten moments of my youth.

    Past few years I’ve gotten into killer stereo equipment. I want to hear clearly ever instrument every breath, every note, as recorded. Got to be careful, I can waste an entire day, just reliving that music those times.

    Thank you.
    Dirk

  • John the River January 11, 2019, 10:21 AM

    Dirk, what you don’t have anything better to do?

    And I agree. Absolutely nothing better to do!

  • DAN January 11, 2019, 6:39 PM

    I always thought that the BIG O was the ultimate dreamer,wondered if he had read some of carlos castanadas writings. are we the dreamer or the dreamed ? still wondering about that some 50 yrs. on & yes one can spend lots of time reliving the good times when the music had harmony ie the blue eyed soul of a few postings ago. for the audiophiles out there, might want to catch CECILIAS version of amazing grace on the cd voice of the feminine spirit.never heard such a crystal clear voice, have many versions of that song by many famous singers but shes the best i’ve ever heard. BTW . anyone out there ever heard the vocal version of walk don’t run?? sister & i heard it 60 yrs ago & just recently found out WHO it was all those years ago. LONG TIME with only parts of the song in your head & nobody else had a clue, TOMMY LEONETTI, never heard of him but the tune was on a jukebox over in wildwood calif. family vacation. popular in australia did a song about sydney i guess. CHEERS

  • Joan Sweeney January 12, 2019, 9:58 PM

    Thank you. I just sent this post to my husband as a birthday present. He’s at the tag end of the Silent Generation and not a boomer. We had a tape of the Traveling Wilburys to play in the car….

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