Unfortunately for all of us, the question mark hanging over Tom Petty’s dire health status last Monday was answered definitively shortly after it’s announcement. The 66 year old rocker from Gainesville, Florida first hit it big with the group Mudcrutch, which he later rejoined in 2007 and toured with in between Heartbreakers tours. He also co-founded the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with his good friend George Harrison. Also working in that band with the Heartbreaker and Beatle were Jeff Lynne of ELO, Roy Orbison, yeah, and if that’s not enough also Bob freakin’ Dylan. But Petty is best remembered for his main act as leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a band that just celebrated their 40th anniversary with a final tour that proved to be all too final for fans. I feel privileged to have gotten to see them on this last tour, but more than that, I feel privileged to have heard the Heartbreakers at all. Today, as I have done more times than I have liked, I am remembering the main man of the Heartbreakers in all his bizarre glory by compiling a list of 40 of my favorite songs of his in honor of his biggest band’s anniversary. However, I have a few entries from his time with the others I’ve mentioned. Let’s start with one of my favorites. It comes from the second Heartbreakers album, You’re Gonna Get It! which has my favorite cover of any of theirs (see above).
“Baby’s A Rock and Roller” – Loud, proud, and powerful Petty and the Heartbreakers. A distinctive announcement that their girl can rock and roll and so can they.
“Don’t Come Around Here No More” – One of Petty’s hilariously or disturbingly weird (or both) videos that doesn’t much relate to the context of the song, but is certainly entertaining. To be fair, the tales of Alice in Wonderland are always kooky.
“End of the Line” – One from the Wilburys that prominently features Petty.
“Feel a Whole Lot Better” – A cover of The Byrds classic that deals out the same degree of “stay out of my life” declaration with Petty adding an extra dose of
“Handle With Care” – The most famous of The Traveling Wilburys songs. Roy Orbison is amazing on this. Petty mostly signs backup, but it’s still a great one he helped to make.
“Here Comes My Girl” – The most normal, well-behaved of his videos by far.
“Honey Bee” – Gotta love this rendition of the blues classic. Fun to play on guitar!
“It’s Good to Be King” – What a weirdo.
“Jammin’ Me” – How I love him so.
“Learning to Fly” – Superior to the Pink Floyd song of the same name.
“Lover of the Bayou” – One from Mudcrutch.
“Makin’ Some Noise” – The final verse refers to a real occurrence when Petty heard a guitar being played in a California canyon and responded by playing his back. Soon they were jamming!
“Refugee” – My friend Mike’s favorite from Petty. At least back in college. Tastes change’ this song’s appeal has not. Still awesome.
“Running Down a Dream” – After a couple grounded videos we’re back to bizarre.
“Something Big” – One of my favorite of Petty’s “story songs” that tell a narrative of some character hewing out a rough existence whilst being thwarted by his own vices.
“Trailer” – My favorite from Mudcrutch.
“Walls” – A good song to have at your wedding. This “Circus” version is my favorite tempo.
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – This one has received a lot of attention in the last week as it features an all-star line up of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers playing at the Rock Hall’s Induction Ceremony in 2004 in honor of George Harrison who was inducted posthumously as a solo artist that year. The reason why it has popped up so frequently in the wake of Petty’s death is because it features him singing while then-newly inducted Prince – one of last year’s most notable and surprising deaths – shreds the living heck out of his guitar making it cry with intensity that is all to our delight. This was the only time that the two legends played together. Amazing. The look on George’s son, Dhani’s face as Prince comes up is the same as the look on all of ours.
Like Prince, Petty also had the honor to play the Halftime Show at the Super Bowl, and while I still maintain Prince played the greatest Halftime Show ever seen, Petty got to do it at the greatest Super Bowl ever played (Super Bowl XLII), and he put on quite a show too.
“Wildflowers” – Perhaps the most appropriate farewell song to the man himself”
“Yer So Bad”
“You Don’t Know How It Feels” – One of my favorite (I have said that a lot, but I mean it) songs to play when I’m not having a great time. I’ve never actually rolled another joint, or even an initial one, but I have sang about a ton whenever this song comes on.
“You Got Lucky” – Yes, we did, to get to hear this man’s magic.
“You Wreck Me” – Played this to great applause at wedding a few weeks back. Yes, much of it was mine, but many others clapped to! The easiest three chords to play to sound badass with.
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – The first of Petty’s songs that I listened to after hearing the initial report of his death. Creepy video; phenomenal song.
“I Won’t Back Down” – My sister’s favorite.
“Free Fallin'” – My favorite!
Thanks for reading and listening! Be sure to fly on back here next week for the latest celebration of Mach 1 Day (October 14th). Until then, if you wish to drop me a line, send your regards to firstname.lastname@example.org.