Tom Petty Countdown #74: “Hometown Blues”

You’ve got another example here of Petty throwing changes of pace at his audience even before they knew what his pace was. Found on his first album, “Hometwon Blues” was recorded in piecemeal fashion, with the legendary Duck Dunn on bass and Mudcrutch drummer Randall Marsh handling the skins. The Heartbreakers polished things up for the album.

The chunky rhythm isn’t what you would associate with a Petty song, but, considering it was his first album, there weren’t any real expectations to confound. It was just the songwriter’s muse taking him into new territory.

What is consistent with Petty’s later work is the nuance in the lyrics. “Hometown Blues” is a striking dissection of small-town life and its inherent ennui. Even romance doesn’t quite shake up the doldrums:  “Said it’s so good, said it’s so real/Might not last but it’s no big deal.” If nothing else, though, it serves its purpose: “Honey I really need you/To help me kill a little bit of time.”

Petty’s outlook was already realistic and world-weary beyond his years, but the bouncy music keeps things from getting too depressing. Just like a small town, some bits of fun eventually surface to keep the monotony at bay.

(For the full e-book of this list, Breakdown: Tom Petty’s 100 Best Songs, check out the Amazon links below.)



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