Tom Petty And The Traveling Wilburys Talk About Tugboats, Tom Thumb, And The Terrible Twos

traveling wilburys

Tom Petty:

Thanks for coming over, guys. I truly appreciate our little chats. Tonight, there are three topics I’d like to get off my chest and into the great wide open.

Bob Dylan:

I, too, appreciate our little chats, Tom. I can’t wait to hear what you want to talk about!

Roy Orbison:

Yeah, getting together at least once a week to talk about things is a great way to keep the juices flowing. I like you guys. Maybe not as much as my guitar, or my sunglasses, but pretty close.

Jeff Lynne:

Hey, Tom! Do these three things have anything to do with electricity, lights or orchestras? Because, as you know, I’m the lead singer of a band called Electric Light Orchestra, and…

Tom Petty:

Yes, Jeff, we know. And even though we’re all very impressed with your day job, I don’t want to spend tonight talking about electricity, lights and orchestras. Maybe next time, okay?

Jeff Lynne:

Sure, Tom.

George Harrison:

Well, what are the bloody things you want to talk about, Tom?

Tom Petty:

Tugboats, Tom Thumb, and the Terrible Twos.

Bob Dylan:

I was hoping you’d say that!

Roy Orbison:

Yeah, those are things we’ve never talked about before, and we’ve talked about a lot of things!

Tom Petty:

Tugboats have an interesting history that dates back to 1803. I guess you can say it all started in your country, George and Jeff.

George Harrison:

Al-right! Did you hear that, guys? Tugboats started in England!

Jeff Lynne:

Let Tom finish, George.

George Harrison:

I’m sorry, Tom. You were saying?

Tom Petty:

It was January 4th, 1803 when Sir Thomas Dundas commissioned the world’s first steam-powered tugboat — a 56-foot long “tow-i-nator” that tested its mettle on the River Carron in central Scotland, which is, as we all know, under the rule of Great Britain.

Bob Dylan:

I like bagpipes, Tom.

Tom Petty:

That’s nice, Bob. Anyway, after these early tests in the United Kingdom, tugboats grew in popularity and relevance. They saw plenty of action by the Union during the Civil War here in the states. Armed to the teeth with ammunition, tugboats helped block Confederate waterways, which slowed materials from getting through and advanced the Union cause.

Roy Orbison:

I read somewhere that even today, tugboats in the Atlantic and the Pacific are like little engines that can — and do — haul big ships into harbors safely.

Jeff Lynne:

Without them, a lot of ships might still be stranded out there…and stuff that businesses and cities ordered 100 years ago might be lost at sea!

George Harrison:

I bet you some of those captains would be dead by now!

Tom Petty:

Something tells me you’re right, George. Shall we move on to Tom Thumb?

All:

YEAH!

Tom Petty:

The History of Tom Thumb was published in England–

George Harrison:

England? Did you hear that, boys?

Jeff Lynne:

George! You interrupted Tom again.

George Harrison:

I’m sorry, Tom. I just miss England so. Please excuse my sudden outburst.

Tom Petty:

That’s okay, George. I’m glad to see you’re so excited. Do you want to hear about Tom Thumb?

George Harrison:

You bet I do!

Bob Dylan:

Hey, Tom, you remind me of Tom Thumb.

Tom Petty:

How so?

Bob Dylan:

Your name is Tom, and you have a thumb.

Roy Orbison:

He has 2 thumbs, Bob.

Bob Dylan:

That’s even better than 1 thumb! Hey, Tom, can we call you Tom Thumbs?

Tom Petty:

Well, some people say I’m all thumbs when I play my guitar, but I think they’re jealous! Let’s just stick with Tom Petty for now. Okay, where was I? That’s right, Tom Thumb. You see, he was a little guy, some say no bigger than his pappy’s thumb! In the book he gets swallowed by a cow, he wrangles with giants, and he befriends King Arthur, who isn’t a bad guy to be friends with.

Bob Dylan:

How old is Tom Thumb?

Tom Petty:

The book was published in 1621.

Bob Dylan:

Do you think they ever threw rocks at him?

Tom Petty:

Why do you ask?

Bob Dylan (sniggering):

Because everybody must get stoned!

Tom Petty:

Bob, do you remember our agreement about talking like that and being a member of this band?

Bob Dylan:

Yes, Tom. I’m sorry.

Tom Petty:

Now then, who’s ready for the terrible twos?

Jeff Lynne:

Is that another fairy tale, Tom?

Tom Petty:

No, the terrible twos are quite real. The terrible twos are a period in a child’s early social development, usually around age 2, that is marked by defiant and unruly behavior.

George Harrison:

You mean like The Sex Pistols or the Rolling Stones? Should we call them The Terrible Twos?

Tom Petty:

Not unless the songs they wrote were written when they were 2. No, I’m talking about little kids who act so miserably you want them to run away and join a rock and roll band.

Roy Orbison:

Like we did when we were little, right boys!

All:

YEAH!

Tom Petty:

So I guess we don’t have too much to say about the terrible twos, huh fellas?

All:

WE LIKE THE TERRIBLE TWOS!

Tom Petty:

Okay then, who wants pizza?

All:

WE DO!

George Harrison:

Uh, Tom?

Tom Petty:

No, George, pizza was not invented in England.

George Harrison:

I was going to ask you if you had any Dr. Pepper.

(laughter)

 

 

 

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