“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was the first single from Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album, Bella Donna (1981). The track is the album’s only song that was neither written nor co-written by Nicks. Written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell as a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, Jimmy Iovine, who was also working for Stevie Nicks at the time, arranged for her to sing on it. Petty sang with Nicks in the chorus and bridge, while his entire band (save Ron Blair, whose bass track was played by Donald “Duck” Dunn instead) played on the song.
A performance of the song in the studio was used as the promotional video. The video was the 25th video to be played on MTV’s launch date on August 1, 1981. Petty and Nicks also sang together on the songs “Insider” (from Petty’s 1981 album, Hard Promises) and “I Will Run to You” (from Nicks’ 1983 album, The Wild Heart), and frequently performed impromptu live versions of these and 1960s classic “Needles and Pins” in many shows throughout the 1980s.
As of 2017, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” remains a mainstay of Stevie Nicks’s solo performances, and on July 9, 2017, Nicks performed the song together with Petty and the Heartbreakers at the British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park in London, in what turned out to be their final performance of the song together before Petty’s death in October 2017.
The song peaked at No. 3 on the American Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks. However, in the UK, the song only managed to peak at No. 50. The song also appeared in the 1981 film Taps.
n a November 2003 interview with Songfacts, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist and primary songwriter Mike Campbell explained the song’s origins:
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was a song that I had written the music and Tom had written the words. The Heartbreakers had recorded a version of it with Jimmy Iovine, and Jimmy being the entrepreneur that he was, he was working with Stevie, and I guess he asked Tom if she could try it, and it just developed from there.
We cut the track as a Heartbreakers record and when she decided to do it we used that track and she came in and sang over it. It became a duet. It’s basically all the Heartbreakers on that record.
The lyrics are about a woman who feels weighed down by relationships and wants to part despite a strong sentimental attachment to her lover. The melody is described by All Music as “dark and sinister”, probably because of the dense drumming of Stan Lynch which is the most prominent feature of the song’s rhythm. Apart from the intro before the first verse and a solo following the second verse (where there is some fairly heavy riffing), however, the guitar sound is laid-back in typical Heartbreakers style. The song was originally recorded for Petty’s album Hard Promises, but the producers felt the song came from a female point of view and it was left unreleased until it was agreed to be put on the Bella Donna album instead. A demo version of the song, recorded without Nicks, was eventually released on Petty’s boxed set Playback in 1995.
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was released as a 7″ vinyl single in the picture sleeve featured above in many territories. Promo 7″ singles were also released in some territories, including the US, in the same picture sleeve, but the disc featured the title track on both sides.
A highly collectable 12″ promo single in a unique glossy sleeve was released in the US.