For TP’s birthday this year I thought I’d do one of amylee’s lists of 11, and these are eleven of his lesser-known songs, some from his solo albums and some with the Heartbreakers. And guess what, I love all of them – they’re all in my top 50. And I don’t think I’ve posted any of them before. But if you want to play the dump-one-keep-one game, feel free – I won’t be cross.
We’re starting off with one of TP’s most autobiographical songs: Makin’ Some Noise which is on the band album Into The Great Wide Open. Rock’n'roll, TP!
A desperately sad song next, about a bloke who’s being put through the wringer by his partner, and has been all but destroyed by it…from the TP&TH breakthrough album Damn The Torpedoes, You Tell Me.
Contrariwise, You Wreck Me is an upbeat, joyous song from the solo album Wildflowers – and those are the Heartbreakers playing there, so it’s not as solo as all that. This is the only song in the list that they ever play live any more – on this year’s tour they played it every night. It’s also the first song you hear in the Peter Bogdanovich documentary Runnin’ Down A Dream, the film that revealed the considerable delights of TP&TH to me back in 2010, and those three opening chords made me sit up I can tell you.
No Reason To Cry is the most recent song on the list, from the 2010 TP&TH album Mojo, which was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs. I knew secretly you wanted to know this.
The drumming and the guitar solo on Keeping Me Alive are very Hollyesque, and indeed TP is a big Buddy fan. This is the song that producer Jimmy Iovine didn’t want on Long After Dark – he thought it was too country. But then, he’s from New York so he probably thinks everything is too country.
Hard On Me, also from Wildflowers, is another song about coping with difficult relationships. Coincidentally Richard Thompson has a song called Hard On Me too. I can tell the difference, though.
I don’t usually approve of special editions of albums that have ‘bonus tracks’ so you have to buy the same stuff twice, but I’ll make an exception in this case and I’ll tell you why. I was looking at my special edition of Highway Companion the other day, checking a lyric in the booklet, and I fell to admiring the look of the thing – the colours, the lettering, the way it’s laid out – and I thought “I wonder who art-directed this?”. So I looked at the credits and it said: ‘Art direction – Tom Petty’. This is Home, a bonus track on that album, and it includes one of my favourite TP lines ‘You spill honey, you’re gonna get flies’. There you go. I looked that up in the booklet.
Things get a bit heavy again on The Damage You’ve Done from the TP&TH album Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) which is pretty heavy in itself.
By contrast Damaged By Love (see what I did there?) is full of sad, sweet yearning. This one’s easy to play. I can play it! It’s another from Highway Companion.
Blue Sunday is one of TP’s cinematic mini-epics. I don’t think she actually meant him to go to sleep in the car…and I’m a bit worried about those bloodhounds. This is on The Last DJ. I love the way the guitar and piano work the riff.
And finally…TP&TH with a horn section! That’s because Dave Stewart co-produced the Southern Accents album and he was having a thing about horns at the time. It meant they had to take some horn players along when they took it on tour, which must’ve made it more expensive: perhaps that’s why, unusually for them, they had a sponsor for that tour. Levi’s jeans! I’m not that keen on horns as a regular thing, but if it’s only now and then I’m fine with it. The horns add a sort of mournful distance to this song, which is about looking back at the failures of the past, and it’s called The Best Of Everything.
Happy birthday, TP. I wish you the best of everything, today and always.