“American Girl” (from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers) – To be honest, if I didn’t know this was a huge song I’m not sure it would stick out to me as particularly memorable. But hearing the chorus screamed loudly many times over via my nightclub job has endeared it to me.
“Don’t Come Around Here No More” (from Southern Accents)- This song walks a fine, very weird line but it works. Makes you wish he took these kinds of sonic risks more frequently.
“Free Fallin’” (from Full Moon Fever)- One of the shortest hooks to achieve ubiquitous status, right? Kind of funny how this song started out as a joke and became his greatest hit. Go figure.
“I Won’t Back Down” (from Full Moon Fever) – Interesting juxtaposition here between the laid back, four on the floor groove and the bravado of the lyric. Of all the great Petty/Lynne collaborations, this sounds the least like Petty.
“Into The Great Wide Open” – (from Into The Great Wide Open) The verses are really undercooked but the way the song opens up in the chorus makes up for it.
“Learning To Fly” (from Into The Great Wide Open) – More times than not a endlessly repetitive chord progression gets old fast, but for some reason it never stops feeling good on “Learning To Fly.”
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance“(from Greatest Hits) – Chalk full of sneakily interesting lyrics like “She grew up tall and she grew up right” and “It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone.” Also the second song after “Piano Man” I ever learned and performed with a harmonica, quite an empowering form of multitasking.
“Running Down A Dream” (from Full Moon Fever) – A little more dirt under the fingernails here compared to the rest of Full Moon Fever thanks in no small part to the main guitar riff that, fair warning, will stick to your brain forever.
“Wildflowers” (from Wildflowers)- There’s a poignant push and pull that makes this one of Petty’s very best. Knowing that an old flame needs to move on but also hoping she never forgets him either.
“You Don’t Know How It Feels” (from Wildflowers)- A glorious Americana-esque romp – from the blues harmonica to the thumping drums and the lyrics about smoking dope. A song that doesn’t overtly seek approval but gets it every time anyway.
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