In the spring of 1995, a friend of mine working with a band fronted by Pete Droge, who was opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They came to Albany to play at the Knickerbocker Arena.
After their set, my exhausted friend left, and so did I, hearing only the first couple songs of the Petty concert. But I figured I’d see him and the Heartbreakers again someday, which proved to be incorrect.
Petty was very popular at FantaCo in the 1980s. My boss Tom had this weird affection of changing the lyrics of the songs from Girl to Squirrel. American Squirrel, Here Comes My Squirrel. It was weird but sort of funny.
I talways thought that the Traveling Wilburys Vol 2 was the collective albums that the artists put out between Vol. 1 and Vol. 3. This would, of course, include Tom Petty’s first “solo” album Full Moon Fever, which featured Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down.
The latter song seemed to be Petty’s mantra, such as fighting with his record company over its failed attempt to raise the price of one of his album. I remember an urgent version at that TV concert after 9/11.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers backed Johnny Cash on his second American Recordings album, Unchained (1996). It won a country album Grammy, but I foolishly thought it would be a big crossover hit. It only got up to #170, and lasted a mere two weeks. Tells you what I know.
Someone was mourning the death of Tom Petty on Facebook, and some jerk said that if you didn’t mourn the folks killed and wounded in Las Vegas, to which someone asked, “Can’t you do both?” Be sad about mass murder AND the loss of someone who had provided part of the soundtrack of their lives for the past four decades?
I’m going to wait awhile, maybe October 20, 2020, which would have been his 70th birthday, before I decide my favorite Tom Petty songs. But these are a few that came to mind in the past few days:
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (from “America” A Tribute to Heroes”)
And here are just some of the stories I read:
Tom Petty Was Rock ’n’ Roll’s Ambassador to the World Even if he would have been the last one to admit it