The World of Tom Petty
by Jim Allen | August 2, 2014
Part of the key to Tom Petty's longevity must be that no matter what road he runs down, he always maintains a tie to his roots. From Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' self-titled 1976 debut all the way up to their brand-new release, Hypnotic Eye, there's a through line that holds tight to the rock 'n' roll verities Petty and his pals picked up in the '60s listening to soul, garage rock, British Invasion bands, folk rock and more. So to play rock 'n' roll cartographer and chart Petty's musical landscape, you've got to include some of the classic tunes he's covered, by everyone from The Byrds and The Animals to The Everly Brothers. You've also got to touch on other artists' tracks he's contributed to, be it Stevie Nicks' "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" or erstwhile Byrds leader Roger McGuinn's solo sojourn "King of the Hill." Of course, you can't forget side projects like the country rock outfit Mudcrutch, either. Add some fellow travelers (Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Twilley) and a couple of younger acts who have carried Petty's influence forward (The Wallflowers and even country giants Lady Antebellum), then sprinkle in a few chestnuts and deep cuts by Petty himself, and you've got a good handle on where he and his Heartbreakers are now, where they came from, and where their vision might lead.