Where To Start With... Tom Petty
Next week Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers will release their 13th studio album, Hypnotic Eye. It's a return to much harder edged rock 'n' roll sound and the album's lyrical themes include our idea of humanity, something which Petty feels in in a dire state. Speaking to Billboard, he said: “It’s about what’s missing — why is the ‘human’ missing from humanity? I think the level of caring about other people is disappearing.”
Another subject covered in the album's lyrics is wealth, or more specifically the unhealthy, disproportionate distribution of it: “That’s a huge problem in the world right now, you can see these wealthy people who have made so much money that making more will not change an hour of their lives or their children’s, yet they’re consumed with the idea of making more. Once they do that long enough, that doesn’t turn them on any more. They want power, and a great deal of money buys power. Very few people know how to handle power and once they just become completely immoral, they’re dangerous people. This attitude is what, to me, wipes out the middle class.”
Highlights on the new LP include the juddering surf rock of 'Faultlines' and the riff-tastic rock of 'You Get Me High', while the lilting grooves of 'Sins of my Youth' and 'Full Grown Boy' offer a little respite from the raucous, heavy vibe found across most of the album, but it's another strong offering from a man with a long, glittering career already under his belt.
With that in mind, we've picked five of our favourite Tom Petty moments. Here goes...
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic Eye and Tour 2014 Announcement Video
(taken from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
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The closing track on Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' eponymous debut, its shuffling groove has you hooked right from the opening line: (“Well she was an American girl, raised on promises...”). Many albums close with a slow number, but they really saved the best until last on this record.
(taken from Damn The Torpedoes)
The opening salvo from The Heartbreakers' sophomore album, Damn The Torpedoes, 'Refugee' contains a big, euphoric chorus that sounds like it was written with stadium-sized gigs in mind. Occupying the middle ground somewhere in between Bruce Springsteen and The Stooges, it's one of our all time favourite Tom Petty tunes.
Mary Jane's Last Dance
(taken from Greatest Hits)
Recorded during the sessions for Wildflowers, but not included on the album, 'Mary Jane's Last Dance was eventually included on his Greatest Hits compilation in 1993. Featuring none other than the legendary Rick Rubin on production duties, its lazy southern groove is the perfect soundtrack to any long drive.
Learning To Fly
(taken from Into The Great Wide Open)
Taken from 1991's Into The Great Wide Open, this radio-friendly anthem is another sing-along classic with a smooth, uplifting sound that once again showcases Petty's way with a catchy melody. It's also one of the last appearances of drummer Stan Lynch before he left the band in 1994.
(taken from Full Moon Fever
There can be no Tom Petty top five without this song, and that's all there is to it. Easily his most well-known number, 'Free Fallin'' is a timeless classic that has featured on too many soundtracks to mention. Taken from his 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever, it's melodic, euphoric and shows what a class act Tom Petty is when it comes to songwriting, although we should mention that ELO's Jeff Lynne also had a hand in its creation.