Everyone knows the hit songs. They are brilliant. Hell, there is a reason you know every song by heart.
I’ve decided to come back to this. I was listening to the Spotify Playlist the other day. I thought. I shall add a bit more to this post. So I’m adding a bit more.
Everyone needs TP in their life.
First in his own words:
“I feel like a lucky man. A lot of people really struggle to find out what they want to do in life, but I knew as soon as I saw Elvis Presley, when I was 11. From that point, music became my religion, my nourishment.”
“It was also a safe haven for me. My life was very turbulent as a child and a little scary, and music made everything seem right. It has also pulled me through some other dark times. It’s very touching to be voted into the Hall of Fame because it’s an award given by your peers, and it’s a nice feeling to think you’re going to be remembered.”
I guess a big thank you to Elvis Presley is in order. If you make music today, what was your turning point? Who made you think, “This is what I want – nay need – to do.”
We have all sung out loud to “American Girl.” Or maybe it’s your go to in karaoke. Queue it up the next time you are out with your friends. If you play guitar, there’s a good chance that “Learning to Fly” has been strummed by you. Do you Drive a car? I’m thinking when “Free Fallin’” comes on you belt it at the top of your lungs. You probably air drum the steering wheel too. Bummed, and/or a wee angry, about a breakup? Cue up “Don’t Do Me Like That”. Or maybe you are more in the “You Got Lucky” camp. Setting out on a new adventure? I bet “Into the Great Wide Open” would sound brilliant or “Runnin’ Down a Dream” would fit nicely too. As I said, there’s a reason we know the hits (and there are a lot) by heart.
That’s how wide the range is of the music of Tom Petty. His reach lasted over decades. Decades. Just an amazing, long career. You have a feeling. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers have a song.
He was the singer. A songwriter. A guitar player. He was perhaps the quintessential American rock star. There will never be another like him. Plus, with the fractured state of music. There are very few “shared” artists. Add to that his longtime backing band, the Heartbreakers and you have everything. Everything. Simply put if you wanted to create the perfect rock band – well you could do a lot worse. And I doubt you could do much better
There are a lot of things I love about rock music. (I should probably write a post about that). One thing I love is that Tom Petty’s nasal voice is gloriously unsuited to any other genre but is perfect for rock. Rock welcomes you. Pop or America’s Got Talent? Forget it. You would be auto-tuned or laughed out of the studio. The not so perfect is perfect.
Plus, that seemingly bottomless bag of tunes. In his typical plainspoken fashion, it felt as though Tom Petty had written your soundtrack.
Let’s start at the beginning. He had an amazing ability to synthesize his influences. Little Richard to Elvis to The Beatles and Johnny Cash. You can hear them in two songs that are still among his most beloved “American Girl” and “Breakdown.” They are still 100% Petty and yet listen and you can hear them. Remember those songs came out in 1976. And where on his debut album.
She was an American girl raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinking that there was a little more life somewhere else
Who among us can relate to the hope? And can hear the threat of disappointment? That’s the magic of Tom Petty.
You spend your whole life to create that debut album. There’s so much material. Then the follow up. It’s not easy. Yet three years later he sold millions of album number 2. And again more songs to love for decades “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.”
From the beginning Petty burned bright. As you are aware the consistency maintained over the next couple of decades was nothing short of phenomenal. I’ll add that many in his position would’ve stopped searching for inspiration. Or ran out. His last few albums may not have sold well, but that wasn’t because of a lack of great tunes. One of the reasons I put this playlist together.
One aspect of his relevance, derived from the fact that, he could write about California without alienating listeners elsewhere. Midwesterners would drink beers as they sang along to “all the vampires walking through the Valley”. Petty found a way to take hold. You wanted to listen to his tales.
Petty picked up where The Eagles ended. He blended rootsy acoustic instruments with tougher rock rhythms. Kinda what modern country is today. They really should be thanking Tom Petty. I joke (but not really) that modern/popular country is just new classic rock.
I think my additions will be welcome. Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening.
Oh I never mentioned that fact that he never really changed his hair cut. Ever.
They are not necessarily his best songs. Radio and Streaming playlists don’t take chances. They don’t want you to change the station. Often the case with great song writers, justice is not done by the radio “gods”. We should dig deeper. Let’s dig deeper.
Let me know if there’s a DEEP, not played on radio, Tom Petty Song that should be included.
The link if Spotify not playing the embed game. https://open.spotify.com/user/chrisbronext/playlist/5go2OpPu2evqtccOomP3dK?si=q3HCQFLxTiGixNcCaQx8xQ
I love hearing the stories. I think I need to bring something like this back. Would you watch?
And, of course, one of my favorite b sides (I think only in Japan) that I put on a handful of college mixtapes. I special ordered the single just to get this track. This isn’t in (on?) Spotify so…it’s not on the above mix. Enjoy.