Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” was the coldest song ever written.
I MEAN LOOK AT THESE LYRICS.
“It’s alright if you love me
It’s alright if you don’t
I’m not afraid of you runnin’ away honey
I get the feeling you won’t”
R.I.P. Tom Petty – Mike Scherf
I was late in the game when it comes to getting into the music of Tom Petty.
Being one of the oldest on the blog team, that might seem a bit weird and strange. However, Tom Petty was (I hate talking about this man in the past tense) always an American legend and was admired in the UK, but not revered in the way that other bands and artists from across the pond are.
My first memory of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers was the song and album Into the Great Wide Open, a record which I adore to this day. The man could make a simple song sound more like it was manna from the table of the Gods, he was a poet in every sense of the word and his art will stay with us for years to come.
Looking back over the bands I have come to love, I would say that at least 70% of them have ben influenced by the music of the Heartbreakers in one way or another.
They were rebels to some, lovers to others, bad asses to everyone and respected where ever they went.
It is actually funny in a way, I went on a Tom Petty binge a few weeks ago after watching a documentary about his work on Netflix called Runnin’ Down A Dream. I did not know it was over four hours in length, so I was a bit surprised at how much time had passed. But it was such an absorbing piece about the band and how determined he was about his music. It was an inspiring piece that I will be watching it again very soon.
As I write this, I have Into the Great Wide Open on as it seems to be the record I should be listening to whilst I write this.
I feel like I should listen to the album that started it all for me, to hear that voice that held me in rapture when I was also in love with Nirvana, Faith No More and The Wildhearts. There is a sadness in my thoughts as I write this, but there is also a sense of thankfulness.
I am thankful to have heard his music, to have felt chills when I heard the guitar starting on “All the Wrong Reasons”, to sing along drunk with friends to “Free Fallin’”, to wish I was the Eddie on “Into the Great Wide Open”, to have reviewed Hypnotic Eye, to have worn out a copy of Wildflowers and to have given a damn about Tom Petty.
May you rest now in the halls of your Fathers, all hail the Mad Hatter! – Eddie Carter
I’m not sure if there was ever a more consistent artist in mainstream rock n roll than Tom Petty. Americana, power pop, and even blues, he has worn many hats (Mad Hatter pun mildly intended) but never once a misstep. Every single note was delivered with honesty and conviction like not many others can, yet still easy enough to be enjoyed by nearly any age. With such consistency, his repertoire has made him sort of a dark horse in the mainstream. Just think about that for a minute: an artist turning in so much quality work, the industry began to take him for granted.
As a guitarist myself, I can’t help but to gravitate to the musicianship in Petty’s records.
Some of his signature songs are often overlooked as the guitar jams they really are. Petty’s lead guitarist Mike Campell never overplays his welcome in any song. Instead letting his contributions elevate the groundwork set by Petty’s masterful rhythm playing.
Take a look at some of Petty’s hits.
“Last Dance With Mary Jane” rocks back and forth in a retro 60s style with Petty’s vocals calling and Cambell’s lead guitar answering. “Running Down A Dream” literally sounds as if you’re running down an empty highway at break-neck speeds, ready to take on anything and everything. Even “You Don’t Know How It Feels” features a scorching guitar solo that would be meaningless without contrasting the relaxed nature of the rest of the song. My personal favorite Tom Petty song is “Good Enough” from the criminally underrated Mojo. A sultry blues jam dealing with the anxieties of temptation done in an effortless, nonchalant way Petty was famous for.
Tom Petty was one of a kind and will be deeply missed.
When the likes of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison want you in their band, I’d say you’ve done something right with your life. – Aaron Cooper
Modern America, with all her dents and bruises – racism, violence, and death – was built on muscle cars, cheap beer, and good music.
Tom Petty is and was at the very top of the list of Americana artists who consistently made good music.
Good rock and roll.
All of his records were important, timeless and well done.
I first heard him and the Heartbreakers rock my small world sometime back in the early nineties, when my friends Dad threw in the cassette, of their debut. “Breakdown” and “American Girl” reminded me why that was the golden age of America.
His simple songs were impactful in the most mysterious of ways. Like a cool breeze giving you goosebumps as you sweat in the field, working the harvest on a sweltering August day.
Tom Petty and his music is woven into the fibre of rock and roll history just as much as Elvis, Cash, and Dylan. He’s right in there, as much of an inspiration and patriarch as even Bruce Springsteen; who should be humbled at what Petty has done.
R.I.P. Tom. Thanks for never backing down! – Jeremy Erickson
It’s hard to know where to begin with Tom Petty and the enormous legacy he leaves behind.
On a personal level, to me, Petty is THE guy. He’s the man. But he’s also like me. He’s grounded and makes fun of himself. For example, naming the band The Heartbreakers was a self deprecating joke on himself! Effortlessly cool, but deep and thoughtful at the same time. He was a leader, a visionary and a stubborn man with a point to prove. A man to aspire to, to follow, but never above anyone.
From a young age he wanted to be in a band and be a musician for a living, so he made it happen. Running a music festival with his band Mudcrutch then packing up to LA to get a record deal (the hard way) is really something to be admired. Even when he did get a deal, he was still adamant that the boys he dragged along (and out of school in Benmont Tench’s case!) were going to be part of it.
He stuck by them and even to his dying day, they stood by his side. I urge you to take the time to watch all 4+ hours of the Running Down a Dream documentary if you’re a music fan, even if you’re not much of a Tom Petty fan.
It’s an incredible story.
Ok, now his music. He was always something familiar yet different. It was straight up, simple but it had power and depth. He made rock and roll music that moves you and makes you want to move, yet he was pioneering and daring. This was especially true when he transitioned from band leader to solo artist. I love the work he did with the Heartbreakers, but as a complete record Full Moon Fever is just the pinnacle of what Tom Petty has achieved. The songs and the production just took him to a new level and those songs will live on forever.
One of my few regrets is never getting a chance to see him live, but I will always have the music to remind me what a better place the world was when Tom Petty was rockin’ it. – Tom Fisher
Confession: I am a hardcore Petty Head.
Everyone who knows me fairly well can affirm my extreme devotion to his music by the fact I have annoyed just about all my family and closest friends from playing Petty all day long. (Side note: if you have never taken the time to listen to Tom Petty radio on Sirius, do it now. You’re welcome.)
You could tell me what your favorite song of his is and I could list the album it is on, when it was released, and some history behind it. But that’s not the point of being a Petty Head, really. It’s what his music means to me on a much deeper level that makes me the diehard fanatic I am. With every album in his discography, whether it is with the Heartbreakers, Traveling Wilburys, Mudcrutch or his solo project with Jeff Lynne, Petty manages to elicit a unique emotion through his music – human vulnerabilities produced in excellent song crafting and a never-tiring vocalization that is instantly recognizable.
I had a few drinks in Petty’s honor last night, and woke up weeping into my pillow this morning.
What we lost yesterday was monumental. Tom Petty will forever be my personal rock icon and I am more grateful than ever I was able to see my music hero in concert before he passed so shockingly. I got to see the blond haired god on his 40th anniversary tour, and by God was it the best concert I have ever been to. – Haley Lewis
I was bombarded as young child with Tom Petty hits and that was a good thing.
It seemed like he was always on the radio stations my parents were listening to or my dad was throwing in some random Petty cassette.
I never actually noticed who Petty was until the “Into the Great Wide Open” video was on constantly on MTV. Then I started to put a name to the songs.
Up until this day I have been content with absolutely adoring his hits without diving into any of his albums, with the exception of his 1994 album Wildflower (a CD which I stole from my mom).
I don’t really have to much to compare Wildflower to as I have never dug too deep on Petty, but this album is absolute perfection from start to finish. The hits, the deep cuts, all of it. I have some many great memories associated with listening to this album.
The reason I bring this up is the first song I thought of when hearing about his heart attack and possible passing was the opening song and title track “Wildflowers” and if you get into the vibe and lyrics it feels like a fitting last song to Tom Petty’s life. R.I.P. – Jon