I was on a plane when the idea of the Tom Petty Show came into focus. We had recently reconnected with Kevin Thomas after he moved back from the Caribbean, and Benji was at that point regularly with us when he wasn’t booked with rock stars and all of the sudden we had this huge, flexible sound—and with KT’s keyboards, we could take on Petty. It made sense, those were always the kinds of songs we looked to write: short, punchy, melodic, with a big chorus and a ripping guitar head. We already knew had at least 10 of his tunes in rotation that we never got tired of playing and most of all, it was an easy sell—EVERYBODY loves Tom Petty.
And if there’s one great thing that’s come out in the last 8 weeks since his sudden death, it’s been evident just how much the man was and is beloved. He’s one of the very few musicians that spanned several generations—the seventies Damn the Torpedoes era, the eighties Full Moon Fever peak and the nineties Wildflowers rebirth. That’s not even counting the post-2000 elder statesman phase when his Greatest Hits became one of the best-selling records in music history, he reformed Mudcrutch for two amazing records and hit #1 on the Billboard Charts with his last Heartbreakers album. He never rested on his laurels, always tried to get better, always chasing the next song. Indeed, he died one week after arguably his best and most triumphant tour. (The Atlanta show was certainly amazing.)
We always look forward to the Petty Show of course, because it’s so fun to revisit these songs and the crowd is always game to sing with us all night—we love it. Obviously, this year is different. Speaking for myself, I’ve been waiting for this show since Oct. 6. I need it. We need it. He’s been the musical compass for most of us since the first time we saw him playing “Won’t Back Down” with fucking RINGO and GEORGE backing him on MTV. Speaking for the Haraway boys who grew up on Beatles records, that was about all we needed to see. For someone I never met, it’s amazing how much I miss him. We hope that with this show we can do our small part in keeping his songs, his DRIVE and his spirit alive, not only for ourselves but hopefully for you as well. Rest in peace TP—we love you.
We’ll be opening for ourselves with a short Haraway Brothers set. We’d love it if you sang along with those tunes too. Tickets are running out, you should get them here.
Friday, Dec. 8, Smith’s Olde Bar
Doors at 8
9:00 PM—The Haraway Brothers
10:00 PM- The Tom Petty Show
VIEW FROM STAGE LEFT
There are so many records and shows to discuss, but we’re going to save that for a Dec. Ray of Light Part Two that will come next week. This being Petty Week, we’re going to focus on him. So here’s a completely unscientific and totally subjective ranking of Tom Petty’s studio albums:
- Full Moon Fever: Petty at his peak- three #1 hits. Six Top 10s. Even the Byrds cover hit #18!
- Damn the Torpedoes: Cemented the legend for Petty and Jimmy Iovine. The lawsuit record that made them superstars.
- Wildflowers: The rebirth with Rick Rubin, nobody saw this one coming, an absolute masterpiece. (A personal favorite.) Several ‘perfect’ songs.
- Hard Promises: The Waiting, Insider and Something Big, which Widespread Panic should cover.
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: His first effort yielded American Girl and Breakdown, only two of the best rock songs ever written. Fooled Again is a cool B-Side on here, so much attitude.
- Echo: The one we’ve listened to the most since his death. Tom himself didn’t like this one, because he was depressed when they made it, and sure, it’s plenty sad, especially Room at the Top. But it’s top to bottom beautiful. He went down Swingin’.
- Mudcrutch 1: The fact that the two Mudcrutch records exist is an amazing story. The fact that they’re great records is a miracle. Scare Easy is the second best “I’m a Dangerous Badass” song he wrote, behind Won’t Back Down, of course.
- Into the Great Wide Open: Still peaking after Full Moon. Great hits, but Out in the Cold is the gem.
- Highway Companion: Campbell’s solo on Square One, and Down South, the best song ever written about the South, besides Southern Accents, which is better than Dixie.
- Mudcrutch 2: This ended up being his last album. What a way to go out, with a song like “I Forgive it All.” My goodness.
- Southern Accents: Kinda weird sound, but still has the aformentioned title track and the mind-bending Don’t Come Around Here No More, a triumphant left turn if there ever was one, and his revenge on Iovine for stealing Stop Draggin’ for his girlfriend. We once recorded Rebels and sent it to Ole Miss’ assistant athletic director. Just play it before the 4th quarter, Michael– this ain’t rocket science.
- She’s the One Soundtrack: An odd listen just because of the little movie things in there, but has the gorgeous Walls, California and Angel Dream along with the killer Lucinda Williams and Beck covers.
- The Last DJ: Have Love Will Travel and Dreamville are among his prettiest songs.
- Hypnotic Eye: U Get Me High grooves like a mother and Campbell plays his ass off on this record.
- Mojo: Their “JJ Cale” record of blues jams. On their last tour, the Zeppelin-esque I Should’ve Known It was slotted right before Refugee to close the main set.
- Long After Dark: Has You Got Lucky and Straight Into Darkness, another of his perfect tunes.
- You’re Gonna Get It: The second album where they almost figured it out, with Listen to Her Heart as the evidence.
- Let Me Up I’ve Had Enough: They did this one after backing up Dylan for a year and you can hear it on Jammin Me and It’ll All Work Out.
- Nobody’s Children: Outtakes and unreleased stuff– check out Ways to Be Wicked. He sure could sing, couldn’t he?
You can stream all of these. Please do. Hope you find some new favorites in there.
See you Friday!