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Tom Petty

Once upon a time in the summer of 2001, I walked into a Best Buy and walked out with the compilation album Greatest Hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I didn’t know much about Tom Petty at that point. I knew a couple of his songs like “Free Fallin'” and “The Waiting” and that was enough to justify buying it. I popped the CD into my car stereo on the drive home and my life was changed forever. His music spoke to me. It awakened something in my soul. I felt like Tom Petty was singing to me directly. He became my favorite artist instantly.

He was a rock star, a real rock star. He had hit singles and critically acclaimed albums and put on one hell of a live show. No road trip was complete without listening to a little Petty. In an era of illegal downloads, I made it a point to buy his albums, all of them. Even his stuff with Mudcrutch, the Traveling Wilburys, and Johnny Cash. I wanted him to have my money. I was lucky enough to see him live five times. Once at the Hollywood Bowl, twice at Outside Lands, once at the Oakland Coliseum, and the last one at BottleRock in what became his final tour. Watching Tom Petty live was better than listening to his albums. Everybody would sing along to every song, spark joints during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and just enjoy experiencing a legend do what he did best.

I hate that I have to speak about Tom Petty in the past tense now. He was a big part of my life. He always will be. You are the soundtrack to my life, Tom. Thank you.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Playback – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is an American band that’s been active since 1976. Tom Petty is the leader, founder, and genius behind one of the greatest bands of all time. Playback is a box set that proves how versatile and influential his music is. It’s the one album that any Tom Petty fan really needs. It’s a six-disc compilation. The first three discs are like an expanded greatest hits collection, featuring practically everything from “Breakdown” to “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” The final three discs include alternate versions, B-sides, previously unreleased songs, demos, and early songs from Petty’s first band Mudcrutch.

It’s a very thorough box set that makes you appreciate Tom Petty more than you ever would have thought possible. Some of the tracks that he cut from other albums appear in this compilation for the first time. Some of those songs are simply incredible and deserve to be released as singles. “Trailer” is one of my favorite Petty songs of all time. It probably would be one of yours too if you ever heard it. It’s got that kind of rambling, jangling rock and roll sound to it. “Up In Mississippi Tonight” is an early track that deservers more attention as well. A couple of song showcase Petty’s dry wit like “Heartbreaker’s Beach Party” and “Moon Pie.” He’s not just a rocker, he’s got a wry sense of humor as well.

Playback would get a perfect rating but it was first released in 1995 so it excludes the second half of his career. They should make a sequel box set compilation called More Playback or Playback In The Saddle Again. Tom Petty is the shit. The Heartbreakers aren’t too shabby either. Get this album. Ask for it for Christmas or use your Hanukkah money to buy it. It’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Greatest Hits Album

A greatest hits album is an album by a musical artist or group that contains some of their biggest hits. A lot of artists don’t like them because they feel like their singles belong to the album from which they came. They don’t like taking songs from different albums, eras, and phases and cramming them together. But you can’t deny the appeal of a greatest hits album to the audience. You get an album of all the best songs without any filler material. You get to experience more of the range and scope of their music. And it’s less of a dent on your wallet, which is always good. The first greatest hits album I ever bought was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was the best decision I ever made. I knew that I liked “Free Fallin’” and “The Waiting” but I had no idea what was in store for me. I bought it, opened it, and shoved it in the car stereo and went for a drive. The first few chords of “American Girl” came on and my life was forever changed. I played that CD on repeat for the next few weeks. I went out and bought almost every single Tom Petty album I could. I’ve seen him in concert three times, soon to be four. I became a huge Tom Petty fan, all thanks to his greatest hits album. I’ve gone and bought a bunch of other greatest hits albums from other artists ranging from Neil Young to ZZ Top to the Doobie Brothers. Each greatest hit album purchase has led to me buying other individual albums from those artists. A good greatest hits album is like an advertisement that you pay to listen to, and then you go out and spend more money on their other albums. You get more entertainment, they get more cash in their pockets, everybody wins.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Tom Petty Hits

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Free Fallin’

I’m a big Tom Petty fan. I have most of his albums, I’ve seen him in concert a few times, and I even have a couple of his DVDs. “Free Fallin’” is one of his best songs. It’s the one Tom Petty song that everybody knows even if they aren’t Tom Petty fans. It’s classic Petty. It has a simple, uplifting melody with poetic lyrics that makes it timeless and accessible to everyone. But I can’t stand to listen to it anymore. It’s too overplayed. It’s always on the radio. It’s been covered by dozens of other artists. It’s been in a bunch of movies and TV shows. And it’s the song that everybody plays for me because it’s the only one of his songs that they have on their iPod. It’s a great song but hearing it all the time makes you hate it. Hearing any song on repeat will eventually drive you crazy and you’ll end up trying to puncture your eardrums with a Q-tip. Tom Petty has been active for over forty years. He has more than one great song. I wish people would play his other ones more often.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Girl on LSD by Tom Petty

Another unreleased Tom Petty gem about drugs and girls.

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You Get Me High by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Here is one of my favorite unreleased Tom Petty songs, perfect for setting a chill mood.

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“American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

“American Girl” is one of the best songs of all time. That’s not even a debate. It’s a fact. It’s one of the best songs of all time. The more I repeat it, the more it’s true. It’s quintessential Tom Petty. It sums up his music and entire career in less than four minutes. It had a driving tempo, a signature guitar rift, and poetic lyrics that anybody can relate to. The lyrics can be complex: “God, it’s so painful when something that’s so close/Is still so far out of reach.” But they are also mind-numbingly simple and cliché: “Oh yeah/Alright.” The song basically represents Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It came off their debut album, it never made the charts in the US, but it still became part of the soundtrack of our lives, whether you know it or not. It’s one of the most covered songs and a staple of garage bands around the world. It’s fun to play, it’s fun to sing, and it’s fun to listen to. It’s timeless. You can’t get sick of it. However, you can get sick from cunnilingus, just ask Michael Douglas.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Runnin’ Down a Dream (documentary)

If you like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and have 4 hours to kill, you should check out Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary about the band. Tom Petty is the shit. He’s one of the last real rock stars. You know his songs even if you aren’t too familiar with him. He’s on more movie soundtracks than John Williams, he’s played the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and he’s been selling out shows with his band for more than thirty years.

The documentary starts at the beginning with a young Thomas Earl Petty growing up in Gainesville, Florida with an abusive father, a loving mother, and a passion for Rock n’ Roll. Petty grows up and hones his talent, finding his future bandmates Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench on the way. You learn about his first band Mudcrutch and hear testimony about how driven he was to succeed. Mudcrutch dissolved and Petty formed a new band: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The documentary goes through the members, albums, songs, tours, anecdotes, tragedies and triumphs of the band and the man.

They use a lot of rare footage and personal videos from the band to tell their history. When they are talking about the drive to California and the car breaking down, they show the car broken on the side of the road. They talk Ron Blair eating a bunch of hash before a TV appearance and point out how glazed his eyes are.

If you’re a fan of Tom Petty’s music than you’ll love this film. His hits are constantly playing in the background, they show lots of concerts, and you get to know the man behind it all and see what drives him. He’s a poet, he’s a storyteller, and his music is timeless. Don’t let the four hour long running time intimidate you. It’s hard to cram thirty+ years of history into a few hours.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Tom Cochrane

Tom Cochrane. Tom Cochrane is a musician/artist best known for his hit single “Life is a Highway”. The unfortunate part is that he is constantly mistaken for Tom Petty. This is most likely because of Napster and the days of mistakenly named MP3 files. Tom Cochrane’s voice could be misidentified as Petty’s but his lyrics are amateur and betray any real artistic integrity.

Critically Rated at 4/17.

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