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Traveling Wilburys - Handle With Care (1988)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 1.61
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Handle with Care" is a song by the British-American supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. It was released in October 1988 as ...

"Handle with Care" is a song by the British-American supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. It was released in October 1988 as their debut single and as the opening track of their album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. The song was the first recording made by the group, although it was originally intended as a bonus track on a European single by George Harrison. When he and Jeff Lynne presented the song to Harrison's record company, the executives insisted it was too good for that purpose, a decision that resulted in the formation of the Wilburys. The song was written primarily by Harrison, although, as with all the tracks on Vol. 1, the writing credit lists all five members of the band: Harrison, Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.

"Handle with Care" was the Wilburys' most successful single. It peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, number 2 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart and number 21 on the UK Singles Chart, and was a top-five hit in Australia and New Zealand. Petty and his band the Heartbreakers often performed the song in concert. Lynne sang the song with them at the Concert for George, a year after Harrison's death in November 2001. Directed by David Leland, the video for the song was an MTV favourite in the late 1980s.


The Wilburys filmed a music video for "Handle with Care" in early October 1988, at an abandoned brewery near Union Station in Los Angeles. It was directed by David Leland, who had recently directed Harrison's HandMade Films production Checking Out. The video features the group members performing the song around an old-fashioned omnidirectional microphone. The band were dressed and styled by Roger Burton, whose stylist credits included the films Quadrophenia and Chariots of Fire, and music videos for David Bowie, Eurythmics and UB40.

The video was the last to feature Orbison, who died of a heart attack on 6 December. Lynne recalls that, as they all travelled together to the film shoot, Orbison kept the band entertained by reciting entire Monty Python comedy sketches by himself. Lynne continues: "And he's got this enormous and most infectious giggle you've ever heard, and we'd all be giggling like schoolgirls after a minute or two and all fall about!" At the time, Lynne described the video as a "nice film, where we're just playing, with nice shots of guitars and heads and feet", and free of "gimmicks and fireworks". Orbison was dressed in a long black coat, black trousers and red shoes, and wore his usual diamond-encrusted Maltese cross broach.

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