8 tracks ► tom petty tribute


►  Too Much Ain’t Enough. To celebrate the late, great Tom Petty, my twin-friend Laura and I held a week-long tribute. Our back-and-forth exchanges revealed that Petty tunes meant more to us than we had previously realized, and I think both of us have this vague sense of wanting to thank the man for something we can’t quite name. Whereas we’d like to wax eloquent with an essay befitting his genius and our gratitude, a playlist is the best we’ve yet been able to muster.

And even that was a challenge.

For me, Tom Petty Tribute Week was a collective experience, which basically just consisted of my asking other people about their favorite Tom Petty tunes. Naturally, in so doing, I was questioned about my favorite Tom Petty songs. Thus, the birth of a playlist. Or two, as the case may be.

In trying to narrow my picks to absolute favorites, I realized that the songs grouped themselves according to two basic timelines: high school and beyond. Side A, or what I’m calling The Classics, are songs mostly from my high-school era, and Side B—what I’m calling The Epilogue—represents songs I associate with the years from high school to now.

►  Side A   •   The Classics   ►    In order of autobiographical significance. A countdown.

8  •  Free Fallin’ • Full Moon Fever   ►   Yes, I did, in fact, use lyrics from this song to eulogize myself for a morbid writing assignment in English class during my senior year in high school.

7  •  Even the Losers • Damn the Torpedoes   ►   If I had a mantra in high school: Even the losers get lucky sometimes. Yes, yes, we do. (But only sometimes.)

6  •  Mary Jane’s Last Dance • Greatest Hits   ►   From the first dirty little guitar lick, this song’s got me hooked.

5  • Refugee • Damn the Torpedoes   ►   Not only an amped-up way to cry freedom but which such lyrics: The down-to-earth “Who knows? Maybe you were kidnapped, tied up, taken away and held for ransom” right alongside the very literary “lay there and revel in your abandon.” What can I say? Everybody’s gotta fight to be free.

4  •  Wildflowers • Wildflowers   ►   Somewhere you feel free.

3  •  Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around • Bella Donna   ►   As my friend said this week, “What’s better than Tom Petty? Tom Petty with Stevie Nicks.”

2  •  You Wreck Me • Wildflowers   ►   I covered the pages of my literature textbook with lyrics to this song.

1  •  Runnin’ Down a Dream • Full Moon Fever   ►   Even my brother says I wore this track slam out—so much so that he grew tired of hearing it. But not me. I’m still picking up whatever is mine.  

Bonus Track   »   A Heart with a Mind of Its Own   •   Full Moon Fever   ►   »   My brother and I listened to a lot of Tom Petty tunes in the car together. He remembers me loving this song.

►   Side B   •   The Epilogue   ►  

8  •  Don’t Fade on Me • Wildflowers   ►   A little dark, stripped-back, restrained melody with careful, unexpected timing and lyrics of piercing observation.

7  •  Breakdown • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers   ►   A live performance of this song turned this tune into something unforgettable for me.

6  •  All or Nothin’ • Into the Great Wide Open   ►   Smooth and heavy, this song is fun to sing and expresses a sentiment to which I can often relate.

5  • Love is a Long Road • Full Moon Fever   ►   Apparently I was struck anew with Full Moon Fever when my son was young, and I have videos of him singing this tune before he was even speaking in full sentences.

4  •  Change of Heart • Long After Dark   ►   I find this song to be applicable to a wide-range of real-life scenarios. And it’s fun to sing.

3  •  It’s Good to Be King • Wildflowers   ►   The more I listen to this song, the more masterful I think it to be. Sure, it is still the groove-heavy song with fun lyrics I liked in high school, but it is also so much more. I think it is one of Petty’s best musical pieces.

2  •  Too Much Ain’t Enough • You’re Gonna Get It   ►   Those guitars, though.

1  •  Square One • Highway Companion   ►   Spare and beautiful in sound and sentiment, a tune that finds the balance between hope and heartbreak.

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