The cut premiered today on Petty’s SiriusXM station, with Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench and engineer George Drakoulias showing up on David Fricke’s program for the debut. The song isn’t on streaming platforms, but an MP3 can be downloaded from Petty’s website after answering a five-question quiz.
Petty’s family released a demo version of “You Don’t Know How It Feels” in June and confirmed that an expanded version of 1994’s Wildflowers LP was underway. “The family and the band are in a joyful process of discovering the Wildflowers sessions and demos, and wanted to share a tiny bit of that with the fans today,” Petty’s daughter Adria said at the time.
The late singer and songwriter was going through his archives for a Wildflowers retrospective since at least 2015, when “Somewhere Under Heaven” showed up online. It’s been estimated that as many as 28 songs were tracked for the album. He was also talking about touring the project in 2016 with backing musicians to help out with the more complex arrangements.
But after his death in 2017, plans were put on hold as his daughters and widow fought court for control of his estate. The two parties settled their differences in December 2019, dismissing their litigation against each other and pledging to work together with an equal say in Petty’s affairs.
“Each of them sincerely regrets that in their intense grief over Tom’s tragic death, actions were taken that were hurtful to one another,” a joint statement read. “We are committed to honoring Tom’s voice, music, integrity and his charitable spirit.”
No further details about the expanded version of Wildflowers have surfaced yet, but Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell has speculated that the band could regroup to perform the record when it finally does come out.
“It would be a great tribute to Tom just to do that album,” he said. “We’d probably have four or five different guest singers with us. We don’t know who they might be, though, or when this might happen.”