Country for Tom Petty Fans
by Chuck Eddy | August 14, 2013
So, as you may have heard, Tom Petty has been saying some mean things about modern commercial country music lately, calling it "bad rock with a fiddle" at New York's Beacon Theatre in May, then telling Rolling Stone that "most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle '80s where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos," as if nobody remembered his Alice In Wonderland stuff from "Don't Come Around Here No More." But funny thing is, the rock that a lot of contemporary country sounds like is, uh, Tom Petty!
Nashville has long worshiped the guy; several current country acts, for instance, have been known to encore with "Free Fallin'" or "Mary Jane's Last Dance" or "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Petty's squirrelly vocal cadences and the Heartbreakers' hard folk rock sound -- especially Mike Campbell's big guitar jangle -- show up in a lot of country now as well. It's not so strange, given how much of it Petty inherited from The Byrds' '60s country rock in the first place.
This playlist should demonstrate just how deep his influence runs. It includes covers of Petty songs by Taylor Swift, Pat Green and Deana Carter; songs namedropping him by Keith Anderson, Tim McGraw, Trailer Choir and Trace Adkins; and 18 songs by 18 other artists that, in whole or in part, in some way or other, resemble Petty. All the songs are from the past decade or so (and no cheating by including sainted old guys like Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell, or Americana types such as Kathleen Edwards whom country radio has never played). It's enough to make you wonder why the guy hasn't crossed over to Nashville himself, Jon Bon Jovi-style. Might be too late now.