R.I.P. Tom Petty – An introduction to the music of the late great Heartbreaker

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This fan post complements Dan and my last lesson on adding some Country Rock licks into your playing based on Tom Petty and Mike Campbell’s style.  You can find more on this here: Shownotes for episode 26

And podcast here:

Back in the 90s, I remember listening in my Dad’s car to “Full Moon Fever” again and again on loop and being touched by Petty’s incredible songwriting, lyrics and amazing melodies and rhythm.  This album, more than any other was so influential on me personally and has become an album which I return to again and again.  My daughter of 2 years old will recognise many of the tunes of this album due to the fact that I play them to her as she goes to sleep frequently: Particularly “You’re Alright for Now” which lends itself perfectly to a lullaby.  I like to think that Tom used to sing it to his children too.

Alright For Now

If you have not yet seen the superb documentary on Tom Petty – Running Down a Dream – then this is an absolute must and you will gain so much insight into the struggle which he faced against the music industry and some of his difficult times.

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0965382/

NetFlix: https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/70082634

There are so many great albums and songs by Tom Petty and an entire channel devoted to him on Sirius XFM; all of this a testament to a wonderful songwriter and a fantastic musician.

This year in June I was lucky enough to get to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their 40th Anniversary Tour.  I went with my friend who I busk many of these songs with on Brighton Beach and also my Dad.  We met up there and first got to see some really great acts from Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown and the main support act for the Heartbreakers – Stevie Nicks.  Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty were great friends and Stevie is often considered to be one of the Heartbreakers.  She sums up her friendship with Tom Petty in this article in the Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/stevie-nicks-looks-back-on-her-friendship-with-tom-petty-w508749

Stop Draggin My Heart Around – Here performed at Hyde Park BST (British Summer Time) festival from the 9th June.  The two of them had a great chemistry on stage and were clearly enjoying their performance.

Tom Petty’s death came as a massive shock to me.  Who would have known that when I saw him in Hyde Park it would be one of the last times he would perform to a crowd and within 5 months he would be dead?  This summer just gone, my wife, daughter and I took a trip from San Francisco to Colorado and much of the road trip was spent listening to Tom Petty’s tracks and choice of tunes on his very own station on Sirius XFM.  The day he died, my car had broken down on a motorway and I phoned my wife to let her know I was waiting for a tow-truck.  It was then that she informed me that Tom Petty had died.  Later the news was retracted, however, the following day his death was confirmed.  I am writing this fan article to show my deepest respect for a truly great musician, songwriter and person and as a condolence to his friends and family.  My second wish is that if someone stumbles upon this article and is not yet very familiar with Tom Petty’s music, that they will take the time and inspiration to spend some time listening to and absorbing some of the best melodies and lyrics ever written.

RIP Tom Petty – may you find peace and I hope your journey into the Great Wide Open was easy

To find out what other people’s favourite songs are by Tom Petty I started up this Reddit post and have included at the bottom a list taken from this thread: What’re your favourite Tom Petty songs?

For me the best songs by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are (in no particular order):

The Waiting

American Girl

Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Free Fallin

Runnin’ Down A Dream

Even The Losers

Yer So Bad

Depending On You

Listen To Her Heart

Wildflowers

You Don’t Know How It Feels

A Face In The Crowd

I Won’t Back Down

Learning to Fly – w/ Stevie Nicks

You Wreck Me

It’s Good To Be King

Don’t Come Around Here No More

Tom Petty’s last performance

Mike Campbell really is one of the best and also most underrated guitarists that there is.  No only was he a major songwriting influence in many of the songs which we have already mentioned, he was the main songwriter for one of the Heartbreakers greatest tunes – Refugee:

He has such an accomplished ear for adding melody to a song which will always hugely complement the song which he is writing for and is an incredible guitarist with some of the most memorable melodic hooks and solos of any guitarist.

Link to Tom Petty’s website

http://www.tompetty.com/

Where you can read Mike Campbell’s beautiful words:

YOUR CONDOLENCES HAVE BEEN A LIFE SAVER FOR ME. THIS HAS BEEN SO SURPRISING AND DEVASTATING FOR ME AND THE BAND AS I KNOW IT HAS BEEN FOR YOU. IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME BEFORE I GET OVER THIS. I WILL CARRY ON FOR MYSELF AND ALL OF YOU WHO LOVE THE MUSIC. I FEEL YOUR LOVE AND AM FOREVER GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT ALL THESE YEARS. REMEMBER, WITHOUT YOU, ALL OF OUR DEVOTED FANS, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS. TOM WILL ALWAYS BE HERE ON MY RIGHT SHOULDER URGING ME ON TO KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE AND INSPIRING ME WITH HIS SPIRIT. HE IS A ONE OF A KIND AND I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR THE YEARS WE RODE TOGETHER AND THE SONGS WE WROTE TOGETHER. BLESS YOU ALL FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

I’m sure that there is so much which is missing from this article, but it is a start for me to try to explain what these great people and brilliant band mean to me.  Tom Petty – you will be sorely missed!

Feel free to comment on which of Tom Petty’s songs is your favourite and why – including if there are any songs which are missing from my list.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you.

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 Your favourites from Reddit:

  • The waiting
  • Walls
  • Honey bee
  • Straight into darkness
  • I should have known it
  • Square one
  • Crawling back to you
  • Good enough
  • A woman in love
  • Angel dream
  • Shadow of a doubt
  • Don’t do me like that
  • Lost children
  • House in the woods
  • Dogs on the run
  • Rebels
  • Swingin’
  • Time to move on
  • Down south
  • Here comes my girl
  • Southern accents
  • Yer so bad
  • Even the losers
  • Supernatural radio
  • I won’t back down
  • Don’t come around here no more
  • Free fallin’
  • Mary Jane’s last dance
  • Into the great wide open

Join the discussion – What’re your favourite Tom Petty songs?

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