Thy Wilbury Done

19 Aug


Volume 1.

  1. “Handle with Care” – 3:20
  2. “Dirty World” – 3:30
  3. “Rattled” – 3:00
  4. “Last Night” – 3:48
  5. “Not Alone Any More” – 3:24
  6. “Congratulations” – 3:30
  7. “Heading for the Light” – 3:37
  8. “Margarita” – 3:15
  9. “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” – 5:30
  10. “End of the Line” – 3:30

Volume II.

  1. “She’s My Baby” – 3:14
  2. “Inside Out” – 3:36
  3. “If You Belonged To Me” – 3:13
  4. “The Devil’s Been Busy” – 3:18
  5. “7 Deadly Sins” – 3:18
  6. “Poor House” – 3:17
  7. “Where Were You Last Night?” – 3:03
  8. “Cool Dry Place” – 3:37
  9. “New Blue Moon” – 3:21
  10. “You Took My Breath Away” – 3:18
  11. “Wilbury Twist” – 2:56

In June, Rhino Records released the complete recordings of The Traveling Wilburys, complete with bonus tracks, video footage and both wonderful volumes that the Wilburys put out these 15 odd years ago. For $30 ($19.99 on iTunes), you can own the basic set or $45 gets you a nice, bound linen bound edition complete with a 40-page book outlining TTW “experience”.


The beauty of The Traveling Wilburys was the total spontaneity of its creation. Back in 1988, George Harrison of Beatles fame was working on his album, Cloud Nine, with co-writer and producer, Jeff Lynne of E.L.O. They had been working on this album for 5 years and were finishing up the album. Warner Bros. asked for a B-side to accompany George’s This is Love single and wanted it quickly. George decided to write a new song with Lynne’s help but, as the story goes, his guitar was at Tom Petty’s house. Jeff Lynne had also been working with Tom Petty and they invited Petty to come along for the ride and assist on the song. Lynne had also been putting off his work on Roy Orbison’s new album, so he and George took Roy to lunch where they discussed “doing” the new song with Petty. Orbison then volunteered to sing on the new track. Since they needed a studio in such a short time, George called up his buddy, Bob Dylan to see if they could use his garage studio. Dylan obliged and ended up sitting in with the motley crew. They ended up sitting around picking guitars and wrote a catchy tune that they all liked and named it after a box in Dylan’s garage titled, Handle with Care.

The music and lyrics came so easy for this group and they all loved working together so much that Petty, Lynne, Harrison and Dylan agreed that they should try to complete an album. Only two “challenges”…Dylan was leaving in 10 days on tour and they needed to convince Roy Orbison. They drove up to Anaheim to Orbison’s concert and reportedly George Harrison got on his knees after the concert to recruit Oribson. He readily agreed.

Lynne and Harrison had been referring to the recording gremlins and glitches as Wilburys, referring to after recording editing of “we’ll bury them” in the mixing. They originally came up with Trembling Wilburys but the group decided that Traveling Wilburys was more catchy. They even made up a story about the Traveling Wilburys as nomadic minstrels who were all half brothers with the common father of Charlie T. Wilbury. The Traveling Wilburys comprised of:

Nelson (George Harrison)

Charlie T. Jr. (Tom Petty)

Lucky (Bob Dylan)

Otis (Jeff Lynne)

Lefty (Roy Orbison)


They gathered in the kitchen of Dylan’s producer, Dave Stewart, because they really liked the atmosphere. Over the next week or so, the group collaborated on 12 songs — 10 that made the Volume 1 compilation and two that remained unfinished. For the recent re-release, George’s son, Dhani — known on the Wilbury records as Ayrton Wilbury (a nod to the Harrison’s love of Formula 1 racing) — completed his Dad’s work on Maxine and The Last Ship, 19 years after they were started.


Amazingly, the process was filmed. So, you can see the fantastic creative supernova that was The Traveling Wilburys, directly from the mouths of Nelson, Charlie Jr., Otis, Lefty and Lucky.

History of the Traveling Wilburys, Part I.

History of the Traveling Wilburys, Part II.

History of the Traveling Wilburys, Part III.

Very illuminating about the wondrous creativity of these talented artists who jumped into the fire, wrote these songs AND recorded them in 10 days. Six weeks later, the album was complete and a remarkable part of music history. The Traveling Wilburys was vintage Rock & Roll with a new sound…or maybe it was the amalgamation of these bright pulsars coming together in a bright, shining moment that shone so brightly. Or perhaps it was the “compression” of the short timeframes and the unexpected death of Roy Orbison that ended up producing that wonderful diamond. Regardless, The Traveling Wilburys is one for the ages.

The Wilburys completed Volume 1 and filmed the awesome, previously referenced video of Handle with Care. They were a few days from filming End of the Line, when Roy Orbison passed away from a heart attack in early December, 1988. The video is sans Orbison but the Wilburys manage to include Roy by showing a guitar in a rocking chair as well as his portrait while his voice is heard on the recording. The song is a fitting end and tribute for the great Roy Orbison.

While the second volume was another great compilation, the lack of Orbison seemed to be hauntingly noticeable. The remarkable talent does shine through, however, through several wonderful tracks:

She’s My Baby

Inside Out

As if it weren’t hard enough to realize that Roy Orbison and George Harrison are gone to that big stage in the sky, this wonderful video of The Wilbury Twist features the great, John Candy:

Wilbury Twist

These particular artists were cornerstones of the music industry over several decades and those still living continue to be. Will there ever be another compilation to rival The Traveling Wilburys? It seems that today’s artists are more about their individual accomplishments to give their egos a rest and put a group like this together, you know, for the music.

However, if you were to wave a magic wand and bring artists together to create similar type group, who would it be? For me, my Wilburys would be:

Taylor Hicks, Harmonica & Guitar

James Taylor, Guitar

John Mayer, Guitar

Eric Clapton, Guitar

Van Morrison, Sax & Guitar

I know, I know….but a girl can dream.







Posted by on August 19, 2007 in Good Stuff, Influences, Music History


14 responses to “Thy Wilbury Done

  1. Jan

    August 20, 2007 at 12:13 am

    Van Morrison: Sax, guitar, vocals, and HARMONICA. I need to process the footage I have of Van the Man playing harmonica from ACL fest last year. Thanks for this post on the Traveling Wilburys.

  2. Little Deb

    August 20, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Wow. Thanks MM. I loved watching these videos. I have to confess my former lack of enthusiasm for The Traveling Wilburys. My husband bought the first cd when it first came out and I remember that I couldn’t figure out what he was so excited about. I think I was in sort of a “not into music” phase at that time or something. Anyway, I don’t think I actually ever listened to the cd. I can even remember when we would be choosing music to bring on a road trip or something and my husband would pull out that cd and I would be like “Nah, put that one back”. Thanks for making me see what I’ve been missing. Pure Magic. Off to put the cd in the stereo and paint the basement closets. At lease I’ll have some good music to liven up this wonderful chore………….

  3. Colette

    August 20, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Love that nasty song “She’s My Baby”!

    And what fun to see George Harrison & his buddies — on that video, when he’s imitating Dylan’s vocal style, he & Bobby are cracking up…

  4. Trixi

    August 21, 2007 at 7:03 am

    I’ve loved them from the very start. I haven’t gotten the new release of the double disc, but plan on it. Will come back later and watch your videos. What a super group they were!

  5. morewines

    August 21, 2007 at 8:02 am

    I have their first release.

  6. patty cee

    August 21, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    this was all so interesting. thanks! i remember the band in a kind of chummy way. they seemed to be having fun, like good friends hanging out and making stuff up, which is apparently what it was. i really liked your personal choices for the new “wilburys.” fame should be more fun for the people in the bubble!

  7. HazMatCFO

    August 22, 2007 at 6:29 am

    My new Wilburys lineup would be:

    Tom Petty
    Jeff Lynne
    Bob Dylan
    Eric Clapton
    Paul McCartney

    Jim Keltner on drums

    I’d fit Ringo in on drums but Keltner already has the job. Maybe double up on a few songs.

  8. music maven

    August 22, 2007 at 6:48 am

    HazMat–Thanks for commenting. I agree with the Eric Clapton add on the existing Wilburys, but I don’t like substituting one Beatle for another. George was so underrated as it was, that to add Paul now would likely diminish George’s brilliant contribution to this group.

    Matter of fact, I don’t think that the original Wilburys will reprise the group out of deference to George. Some holes you just can’t fill.

    New Wilburys, under an original name, of course, is more likely. I would LOVE to see your line-up, though.

  9. huckleberryfriend

    August 22, 2007 at 9:44 am

    I bought both CDs when they first came out. Think Handle with Care is my favorite song.

    Your new supergroup is missing one critical member – Donald Fagan on keyboards and vocals.

  10. marls

    August 23, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    Wow … love that dream band. Great blog.

  11. Aimee Wilbury

    January 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I really like the Traveling Wilburys — I mean, how different can you get from Bob Dylan’s folksy-rock music to E.L.O.’s classical orchestras? Or Roy Orbison and Tom Petty? And then a Beatle to bring them all together. Not for money or fame — just for fun. (Another thing: Tom Petty’s solo album “Full Moon Fever” is often considered as Traveling Wilburys Volume 2. If you agree with it, does that mean Mike Campbell is a Sidebury?) And its awful strange. I’m 15 (gonna be 16 this year) and I’m liking really old musicians while all the other high school kids have their rap and shit like that. I’ve never been one to fit in with the crowd.

    My favourite Wilbury is George Harrison. (Although I do like Tom Petty!) Last summer, a month or two after the Collection was released, I found Volume 1 and 3 at a yard sale, as well as Full Moon Fever. A stroke of good luck, I call it.

    Technically, the Wilburys did reunite — for a live concert. Except Bob wasn’t there. Dhani was. It was when George was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can see it on the official site, under “Media.”

    Back when the Collection was released, I couldn’t find any Traveling Wilburys message boards online. So I started my own — WilburyMania! (Afterwards, I found two other ones — one was abandoned, and the other one deleted.) Even though it’s members-only, it’s a nice little place. (Hope I don’t get in trouble for my little ‘plug’!)

    Goodness, I typed a lot.

  12. music maven

    January 15, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Not at all, Aimee. Thanks for the comment. I’ll visit. Love, love, love The Wilburys.


  13. Aimee Wilbury

    January 16, 2008 at 8:21 am

    There was a little typo in my link. If you can change it it’d be appreciated — thanks! <– the actual link.

  14. Ricky Deee

    November 7, 2008 at 8:57 am

    There never will be – never CAN be another Wilburys. Unless ur “magic wand” can resuscitate deceased musicians. The Big O cannot be replaced. Period.
    Find another singer with a 3+ octave range? Good luck hunting – even mine is just short of 3 and I’m said to have a big range among my fellow operatic baritones. Pity there’s no money in opera – at least not here in Australia, anyway.


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