Tom Petty Countdown #64: “Into The Great Wide Open”Posted: November 21, 2012
I forced myself to really try to re-listen to this song once again, as if hearing it anew, because, quite frankly, I felt a little burnt-out on the song. It’s one of those Petty tunes that classic rock radio really beats to death, and there are a lot of his songs that deserve a wider audience that will never get a fraction of the airplay of this one.
Let’s face it; that memorable video starring Johnny Depp as a rock burnout certainly did this song a great favor, propelling it to hit status. It’s got a tepid pace, with that descending chord pattern churning away, and the moral of the story, that you’re only as good as your last hit, is as old as the music business itself.
A fresh examination, however, reveals some nuances that reminded me why I liked the song in the first place. Those little guitar breaks in between sections provide great hooks throughout. The refrain is undeniable catchy, with Jeff Lynne’s ELO-flavored backing vocals providing a bit of wonder tinged with melancholy. And, though it may be an old story, Petty tells it damn well, with knowing winks of humor and an unresolved ending (at least if you ignore the video) which lets us guess what became of Eddie once the hits ran dry.
So maybe it’s not radio’s fault for turning me against “Into The Great Wide Open.” Maybe it’s my own fault for taking its cleverness and craft for granted.
(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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