Since the Eighties turned into the Nineties, my ability to keep up with music slowed greatly. Compared to most my age, I am way ahead of the curve. But, much like my athletic ability, my best rock & roll days are behind me. Yet, Tom Petty’s continued to be one of the artists whose music I continued to consume. Actually, there are about 10 artists or so whose new material I will pre-order unheard. If you have been following this blog for a while, you know just how big of a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Daryl Hall & John Oates and Paul Weller I am. Same goes for U2, Todd Rundgren, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp and The Bangles. Everyone else has their time periods which interest me.
Still, Petty is right there for me. Okay, Costello and Rundgren are a little more hit and miss through the Nineties and the Aughts, but the rest I am thoroughly crazy about. Unfortunately, I do not own a PhD in any of them, but I probably am a Masters Level in each of those artists.
After the Day 3 in this series, one of my high school buddies wrote to me on Facebook predicting that all of the songs on Hard Promises would be on this list. Well, Mark, sorry to disappoint you, but that will not be happening. I believe the album on which I lean the most is Damn the Torpedoes as it is loaded with songs that would have been major hits if the album had been released in the MTV era. On the other hand, Hard Promises spoke to me like few albums ever had before or since, outside of London Calling, Prince’s Big Three of 1999, Purple Rain and Sign ‘o’ the Times or Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A. by The Boss. Honestly, Hard Promises and Mellencamp’s The Lonesome Jubilee both touch me on a deep personal level that could never be conveyed by words. I suspect we all have albums or songs that stir something deep within our individual psyche which causes you to think for a brief moment that someone else has had the exact same life experiences as you. Unfortunately, you realize that the artist went through something similar but had worded his or her lyrics in a manner with enough openness for anyone to project their history into to gain insight into themselves. That’s why no one should ever be burdened with the declaration of being the Voice of one’s generation. The artist, be it Petty, Carole King, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain or Taylor Swift, does not have the answers. They only possess the same questions about a similar situation in THEIR lives. Yet, somehow, Tom Petty seemed to possess a gift that allowed him to describe situations we have all been in at one time or another. Then, he added memorable melodies that were embellished by one of the finest coterie of musicians an artist held together this side of the E Street Band.
That is why it was so much fun for me to go bad through all of Tom Petty’s albums (I have most of them on vinyl! I do have his big compilations and Mojo, along with both Mudcrutch albums on CD. Still, I do intend to replace all of his CDs with vinyl one day, the way God intended music to be heard.). Listening to his albums all over again allowed me to remember just what I was thinking as a teen or twenty-something or a new parent and every other role I undertook in my life. Petty’s albums always seemed very appropriate for that particular stage in my life. That’s why Tom Petty is so special to me.
And now, it’s time to unveil my Top 25 favorite Tom Petty songs.
25. “Free Girl Now” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Echo, 1999)
24. “Here Comes My Girl” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)
23. “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Hard Promises, 1981)
22. “You Got Lucky” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Long After Dark, 1982)
21. “Runnin’ Down a Dream” – Tom Petty (Full Moon Fever, 1989)
20. “Refugee” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)
19. “Room at the Top” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Echo, 1999)
18. “I Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty (Full Moon Fever, 1989)
17. “Wildflowers” – Tom Petty (Wildflowers, 1994)
16. “Swingin'” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Echo, 1999)
15. “Free Fallin'” – Tom Petty (Full Moon Fever, 1989)
14. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Southern Accents, 1985)
13. “Listen to Her Heart” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (You’re Gonna Get It! 1978)
12. “Saving Grace” – Tom Petty (Highway Companion, 2006)
11. “Walls (Circus)” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Songs and Music from ‘She’s the One’, 1996)
10. “Keep a Little Soul” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (An American Treasure, 2018)
9. “Breakdown” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1976)
8. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Greatest Hits, 1993)
7. “Learning to Fly” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Into the Great Wide Open, 1991)
6. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Bella Donna, 1981)
5. “American Girl” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1976)
4. “You Don’t Know How It Feels” – Tom Petty (Wildflowers, 1993)
3. “Even the Losers” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)
2. “Insider” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks (Hard Promises, 1981)
- “The Waiting” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Hard Promises, 1981)
And that’s my list of Tom Petty songs. And your list is probably WAY different than mine, since we all experience his wonderful catalog of music. Let me know which of your favorites I left out of my Top 100. Nobody is perfect it comes to a list like this. At the very least, I hope it stimulates discussions and maybe some playlist creations. Peace!