The Traveling Wilburys were a British-American supergroup formed in early 1988 after joining together to record a song to accompany a single by ex-Beatle George Harrison (1943-2001).
“Handle With Care” was meant to be that song, but when it was complete, it was decided the track was far too good to be used as a B-side, and the group decided to record a whole album. Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1 was the result, released in October 1988. It was the most successful song by the project, and I know it well, but I couldn’t recall its title when going to look for it until today. I’ve enjoyed hearing the collection but never really looked deeply into it before now.
The band included Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty (1950-2017) and Roy Orbison (1936-1988). (Incidentally, Petty, Lynne, Harrison’s son Dhani and others collaborated on a version of Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for his posthumous induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Please check out my post on that song.)
Volume 1 was a massive commercial success for the group, though Orbison’s sudden death two months after the album release overshadowed the achievement. The four remaining members made Traveling Wilburys, Volume 3, intentionally numbered incorrectly, releasing it in 1990.
Reading up on the supergroup project today, I learned that each member took on nicknames as Wilbury brothers on the albums:
“Nelson Wilbury” – George Harrison
“Otis Wilbury” – Jeff Lynne
“Lefty Wilbury” – Roy Orbison
“Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr.” – Tom Petty
“Lucky Wilbury” – Bob Dylan
“Spike Wilbury” – George Harrison
“Clayton Wilbury” – Jeff Lynne
“Muddy Wilbury” – Tom Petty
“Boo Wilbury” – Bob Dylan
Officially, the albums did not credit drummer Jim Keltner as a Wilbury, though he was dubbed “Buster Sidebury.”
One of my brothers has played Volume 1 often at family parties in his home, and I can remember my late mum bopping around to it with delight. It’s been a long time since we were all together, and I look forward to us listening to the recording the next time we’re able to meet up there.
Until then, I find “Handle With Care” to be a good reminder of how to be with and care for others while all of us feel different kinds of stress, isolation, and deal with unemployment, loneliness, illness or other losses in this pandemic.
“Been beat up and battered around
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found
Handle me with care”
(from “Handle With Care,” by George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison)
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the official music video for the song from the Traveling Wilburys YouTube channel:
Full, non-official lyrics available courtesy of Genius.com.