Opinion: Tom Petty’s last dance

“It is grueling to do a very, very long one,” the great Tom Petty admitted to an interviewer last week, at the conclusion of a 53-show concert tour. “This was quite a long one. It’s sometimes physically hard. But then the lights go down, you hear the crowd and you’re all better. You feel like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”

A few days later, of course, Petty was dead at age 66. He went into cardiac arrest at his mansion in Malibu and never recovered consciousness, which isn’t a bad way to go if you think about it.

But for a lot of us left behind, that one hurt. Petty was a great talent who never seemed to lose a sense of himself, of where he came from and where he stood. That’s not something that you can say about a lot of people in rock and roll, especially not those who had careers even approaching that of Petty. If you’re interested, go read the interview linked above, because it really gives you a good sense of him as a person, musician and bandmate.

That last word, “bandmate,” was particularly important to him.

“The thing about the Heartbreakers is, it’s still holy to me,” he told Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Tims. “There’s a holiness there. If that were to go away, I don’t think I would be interested in it, and I don’t think they would. We’re a real rock ’n’ roll band — always have been. And to us, in the era we came up in, it was a religion in a way. It was more than commerce, it wasn’t about that. It was about something much greater.

“It was about moving people, and changing the world, and I really believed in rock ’n’ roll — I still do,” he said. “I believed in it in its purest sense, its purest form. … It’s unique to have a band that knows each other that long and that well.”

Thanks for bringing the rest of us along, Mr. Petty. It was hard choosing just one song from the Heartbreakers’ incredibly rich songbook, but after listening to most of their tunes, I settled on this one. The video, however, is pretty weird.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

41 comments
Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

Most excellent tribute to Petty in Gainesville today during the LSU-UF game when 80,000 UF fans sang in unison to Petty's "I Won't Back Down" - gives me chills every time I watch the video.

BDCoole
BDCoole

Sorely missed and terribly sad.

YouLibs
YouLibs

Can we post WAV. files here?

Bruno2
Bruno2

In the obituary that JK Toole linked below, the author said about Tom Petty: "Petty was a master of precision and brevity. He could say more with less than any writer I know."

I think this song supports that sentiment.   No prologue, jumps right into it from the opening note:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv4-m-cIZf4

Bruno2
Bruno2

Jay: "Petty was a great talent who never seemed to lose a sense of himself, of where he came from and where he stood."

Thanks for putting up the Petty tribute, Jay.

Trying to capture the essence of Tom Petty is a challenge, because he never gave you a whole lot to grab on to.  He transcended the normal confines that our egos place upon us.  He was whatever he was doing at the time, with no overlays.

Musically, Tom was transcendent at times, although he never strayed too far from straight-up rock-and-roll. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e25p0Y3Vd38

~moonbat_betty~
~moonbat_betty~

I fig'rd Last Dance with Mary Jane was about a dude trying to quit smoking the ganja...

Last dance with Mary Jane...

Sucks Petty went too early. I worry for our boy Willie.

My favorite Petty and the HB is "Here Comes My Girl."

However, I feel compelled to post this as of now:

http://tinyurl.com/pf64e8k

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

We got something. We both know it but don't talk about it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

"The video, however, is pretty weird."

_____________

That's Athens, GA's, own Kim Basinger in the "Mary Jane" video.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Don't come around here is pretty weird video as well. Evidently the record company wouldn't allow them to show toms face when he was eating cake Alice.

"You can do it but you can't look like you are enjoying it!"

I think I heard this song was meant for Stevie nicks.

USMC2841
USMC2841

Never had to ask, "Who's this?" even when he released new stuff.  His sound was refreshing and unique.  He'll be sorely missed.

kitty72
kitty72

My favorite song of his is "I Won't Back Down". Going to download that this weekend. I didn't really think much about his music. It was always just there and I enjoyed it. Hope you are rocking up there, Tom. 

honested
honested

Back when 'punk' and 'new wave' were new, the youthful adherents were often sufficiently disturbed to make one shy away. I wasn't sure if the entire genre was embraceble.

Then I saw the Heartbreakers at the Fox shortly after having seen the Clash across the street and settled things.

For those not old enough to remember "Midnight Special" was the predecessor to MTV.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBuIM-ekVjA

kitty72
kitty72

@TBS  Love the Traveling Wilburys. I think the name is cool.

TBS
TBS

@Visual_Cortex


Had you been since the renovation?

I thought they did a great job.  

TBS
TBS

@Visual_Cortex @TBS


Imo it was a great place to see a show before the renovation.  They just made a cool place even cooler.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@TBS @Visual_Cortex

Right. My first reaction upon hearing they were closing the place for renovation was "what's wrong with how it is now?"

But they've made it a little more user-friendly, and I'd imagine it's probably a more pleasant place to work, too.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

And there's this, which I sure hope is true:


In an accompanying interview I did at the same time with Mike Campbell, he tells me that when they finally got to meet Roger McGuinn, he said he’d heard "American Girl" on the radio and thought it was him. He was with his manager, and turned and said, “When did I do that?” And the manager said, “That’s not you.” Roger thought it was something he’d recorded and forgotten about, and then when he found out the truth, he wanted to meet Tom and Mike.


JKToole
JKToole

@Visual_Cortex The real secret, and if you look at Petty and Campbell playing any of their vintage Ric's in later years is tuning down and a capo at the first fret. The necks are just too narrow for 12 strings at the nut.

The beauty of Tom Petty signature model was the wider finger board and different radius - and of course that lovely checkerboard binding.

That chime Petty talks about in the article comes from the fact that Ric strings their 12's in the reverse fashion of every other 12 string out there. The pick makes contact with the standard tuned string (rather than the octave) on the down stroke.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TBS

BINGO!

An unprecedented collection of musical talent.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

No, don't second guess this, Jay. It's the perfect selection.