In 1988, George Harrison & fab friends recorded “Handle with Care” at Bob Dylan’s L.A. home

By on November 14, 2018

Night Flight’s “Traveling Wilburys: Video Profile” — which originally aired on December 2, 1988, and you’ll now find streaming on Night Flight Plus — is actually a bit of a misnomer in that this profile features only one of their videos (“Handle with Care”).

The profile does collect, however, one representative video for each member of the band: George Harrison (“When We Was Fab”), Bob Dylan (“Tangled Up in Blue”), Roy Orbison (“In Dreams”), Tom Petty (“Jammin’ Me”) and Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne (“Calling America”).

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In the original CD liner notes, Mo Ostin, Chairman Emeritus of Warner Bros. Records, calls the Traveling Wilburys — “Nelson Wilbury” (Harrison), “Lucky Wilbury” (Dylan), “Lefty Wilbury” (Orbison), “Charlie T. Wilbury” (Petty), and “Otis Wilbury” (Lynne)  — were a “happy accident.”

Ostin writes that Warner Bros. had asked Harrison to come up with a special B-side for “This Is Love,” his single from the soon-to-be-released Cloud Nine album.

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Harrison asked Lynne, Orbison and Petty to spend a day recording with him at Bob Dylan’s L.A. home.

That session produced “Handle with Care,” which Harrison played for Ostin and Warner’s A&R head Lenny Waronker, who were both blown away by what they heard.

They immediately wanted to know if Harrison could put together the band again to record a full album’s worth of tracks, and with that the Traveling Wilburys were formed in the Spring of 1988.

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In May of ’88, along with drummer Jim Keltner, the members gathered at the house of Eurythmics‘s Dave Stewart to write for a week’s worth of songwriting, recording one song per day in order to come up with enough tracks for an album.

Agreeing that they shouldn’t use their own names for the project, they were originally going to be credited to the “Trembling Wilburys” before Lynne suggested that “Traveling Wilburys” (read their rather ridiculous “Etymological Origins” by “Tiny Hampton” here).

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The video for “Handle with Care” — directed by David Leland, who later directed the Concert For George performance concert film — features brief cutaways to photos of the members as children or young teens.

Some scenes were filmed at L.A.’s Union Station train depot, standing around an old-fashioned omni-directional microphone.

The video for “Handle with Care” is the only Traveling Wilbury’s music video that Roy Orbison ever appeared in (he suffered a sudden heart attack and died on December 6, 1988, at age 52).

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The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 was released one day after the single and video on October 17, 1988.

Read more about some of the videos featured in Night Flight’s “Traveling Wilburys: Video Profile” below.

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Night Flight’s “Traveling Wilburys: Video Profile” continues with Harrison’s music video for the Jeff Lynne-produced “When We Was Fab.”

The video  was the last music video co-directed by Godley & Creme, who had directed dozens of ’80s music videos, including Duran Duran‘s infamous and MTV-banned “Girls On Film” (it aired frequently on “Night Flight”).

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The video features former Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr posing as Harrison’s “assistant.”

Jeff Lynne also makes an appearance, and there are quickie cameos by a host of famous folks: Elton John (putting the coin in the cup); Beatles road manager & one-time Apple Records head Neil Aspinall (carrying John Lennon’s 1971 Imagine album); Paul McCartney (wearing his Magical Mystery Tour-era walrus mask); Paul Simon (pushing a fruit cart); and percussionist par excellence Ray Cooper.

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Next up is Bob Dylan’s masterpiece “Tangled Up In Blue,” a single off his fifteenth studio album, 1975’s Blood on the Tracks.

This live concert performance — a close-up of Dylan’s white-makeup face recorded on November 21, 1975, at Boston Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts — was snipped from Dylan’s cult classic Renaldo and Clara.

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Dylan’s video is followed by Roy Orbison’s 1987 “In Dreams” video, featuring surreal snippets from David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet.

Orbison’s song proved to be a hit once again, but he wasn’t able to include it on a new 1987 collection, In Dreams: The Greatest Hits, so he re-recorded “In Dreams” a second time.

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For the video promoting the re-recorded track, director Leslie Libman (not Liebman) used footage from Blue Velvet featuring actor Dean Stockwell lip-syncing the song.

This was interspersed with live action shots of Orbison projected across a moving cloth blowing in the wind.

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Dylan & Petty would co-write “Jammin’ Me” for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ seventh album Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough).

The single charted at #1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Hits for a month straight.

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The video was directed by Petty’s high school buddy Jim Lenahan, who did the lighting and staging for the tour his band and Dylan’s band did together in 1986 and ’87 (our chyron also credits film editor Kathy Dougherty as one of the directors).

In the L.A. Times‘ “Sound & Vision: Adventures in Video” column (May 10, 1987), Terry Atkinson writes that Petty describes “particular media stars that he could do without (Eddie Murphy and Vanessa Redgrave among them).”

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Electric Light Orchestra’s “Calling America” was the first single from Balance of Power album, released on February 17, 1986, in the U.S.

Lynne evidently had little interest in promoting it — ELO did play “Calling America” on their last live dates in England and Germany in 1986 — but nevertheless it made it to #18 in America and #28 in Britain.

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The video was co-directed by John Beug and Jane Simpson, and featured Lynne and bandmates drummer Bev Bevan and keyboardist Richard Tandy lip-synching in front of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France, as well as shots of a subway and the Arc de Triomphe.

Watch “Traveling Wilburys: Video Profile” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.