I can’t really tell you exactly when I started listening to Tom Petty. My biggest musical influence was (and is) my dad. He never forced me to listen to anything, but the music was always around and I just latched onto it. Songs like Refugee, American Girl, Even The Losers, The Waiting, etc. were just immediately songs I knew, even if I hadn’t sought them out. The first Petty song I can remember that I actually gravitated towards on my own was Don’t Come Around Here No More. Being of the MTV generation, it was totally the music video that drew me to that song. It probably helped that it was on MTV every three hours, but it was just so weird I couldn’t help but be mesmerized. A Willy Wonka/Mad Hatter looking dude in a crazy top hat swallowing an Alice in Wonderland looking girl who was just turned into a cake? And the little burp at the end. I was hooked. A couple years later I remember my dad being VERY excited about the collaboration with some of his musical hero’s. Dylan, Orbison, Harrison, Lynne, & Petty. That first Wilbury’s album got played A LOT in our house. Petty’s music has continued to be a mainstay in our family.
Tom was destined to be a musician from the start. In elementary school he had a hard time connecting as all he wanted to talk about with other kids was the records he was playing at home. I can relate! His love of music was solidified when he was introduced to Elvis at a very early age by an uncle who was working on the set of an Elvis movie shoot. Then in 1964, like so many others, he saw the Beatles on Sullivan and said “that’s what I am going to do.”
Tom Petty leaves behind a musical legacy almost unmatched. 40 years of massive hits, poignant poetry, and music that transcends genres. Below are my top 10 Petty tunes…which on any given day can change a little, especially the order. Not a list based on sales, or requests, artistic integrity, etc. Just songs I get jacked up to hear…give these a listen.
And there’s a couple bonus videos below. Honourable mention to Tom’s live cover of Gloria…which highlights his incredible talent for storytelling. Plus a little gem featuring Tom Petty’s AWESOME appearance on the Simpsons. This is anything but bland, generic rock.