Tom Petty E-Book Free for Limited Time

For those of you who might have been interested in checking out my e-books but didn’t feel that the price was right, there is a promotion for the next few days on Amazon by which my Tom Petty Top 1oo e-book is free. I wanted to share the news with my loyal readers first so that you can take advantage. It only lasts ’til the weekend. Check it out in the link.


CK Retro Review: Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty

It was essentially his first ever solo album, although Tom Petty wasn’t alone by any means on 1989’s Full Moon Fever. Heartbreaker sidekick Mike Campbell was along for the ride, along with several Wilburys. The result is an album that stands as perhaps the finest of his career in terms of top-to-bottom quality. Here is a track-by-track review.

(The quotes following the songs were taken from Breakdown: Tom Petty’s 100 Best Songs, my recently published e-book which can be purchased in the link below.)


12. “A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own”- This boogeying number didn’t make my list of Top 100 Petty songs, the only one on Full Moon Fever that missed. That’s more a testament to the quality of the album than it is a knock on “A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own,” which boasts some humorous lyrics.


11. “Love Is A Long Road”- “Petty’s nasally singing is a bit affected here, but it’s ultimately secondary to Mike Campbell’s thunderous guitars. They’re the main selling point of a track that really tears it up when played live and would stand out on any normal album. On Full Moon Fever, “Love Is A Long Road” suffers for being a really good song among great ones.”

10. “Depending On You”- “Notice how those refrains play off the verses, as Petty plays it coy with his talk-singing in those parts before powering into the choruses, like a conversation that starts simply before the intensity ratchets up. It’s just a little touch that makes this otherwise humble little number sound downright powerful.”

9. “The Apartment Song”- “Best of all is the brief, Buddy Holly-inspired, guitar-and-drum breakdown. At any moment during that portion of the song, you half-expect Petty to break into a few bars of “Peggy Sue”. It’s that kind of anything-goes approach that made the album so special and transformed “The Apartment Song” from a leftover to a winner.”

8. “Alright For Now”- “To the long list of rock lullabies, feel free to add this unabashedly pretty offering from Full Moon Fever. Tom Petty and Mike Campbell do some intricate finger-picking on acoustic guitar without ever raising the volume level too high. Wouldn’t want to wake up any dozing youngsters now, would they?”

7. “A Face In The Crowd”- “Elegant in its understatement and suggesting a lot without really saying much of anything at all, “A Face In The Crowd” proves Petty’s ability to create waves of emotion without spelling everything out. That it feels like a minimum of effort was exerted on this Full Moon Fever track is even more of a testament to TP’s talent as a songwriter.”

6. “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”- This song was not included in my Petty Top 100 because he didn’t write it (Gene Clark did), but the letter-perfect rendition on Full Moon Fever not only honors Petty’s debt to The Byrds but also injects a jolt of sunny adrenaline to anybody who listens to it.

5. “Zombie Zoo”- “I suppose if you dig deep enough, you might be able to find a commentary on the conformity of youth culture or something like that, but why bother? With that horror-movie organ at the start of the song and lines like “You like Boris Karloff and you don’t even care,” it’s best just to enjoy the aural delights of “Zombie Zoo.” Consider it the victory lap on a triumphant album.”


4. “Yer So Bad”- “Petty’s sense of humor is all over this one, veering from mischievous (pondering the relative unworthiness of yuppies and singers in the first verse,) to gallows (the jilted lover contemplating suicide in the second.) You can imagine the band getting a good laugh as Petty brought those lyrics into the studio. Jeff Lynne gets a co-writing credit here, with his apparent contribution being the structuring of the chords to help Petty get from one section of the song to the next.”

3. “Runnin’ Down A Dream”- “According to Paul Zollo’s career-spanning interview book Conversations With Tom Petty, Petty claims that he and Jeff Lynne watched in stunned amazement as Mike Campbell blistered through the memorable solo at the end of “Runnin’ Down A Dream” in one stunning take, slack-jawed at the brilliance they were seeing and hearing. When it came time to edit the song for release on Full Moon Fever, Petty couldn’t bring himself to cut out any of the magic his guitarist had given him.”


2. “I Won’t Back Down”- “Then the song veers quickly back to the mantra of the refrain, with TP’s good buddy George Harrison seconding that emotion on backing vocals. “I Won’t Back Down” isn’t so much about taking some righteous stand as it is adhering to a certain, unwavering code. It’s about integrity really, and few artists have ever exuded quite as much of that elusive quality as Tom Petty.”

1. “Free Fallin'”- “I suppose that some people find some uplift in these lyrics; as for me, I feel like they speak to middle-age aimlessness. That’s what makes the set-up of the refrain so clever: He says he’s “free,” only to pull the rug out from you with the punch line: “Free fallin.’” Maybe he’s looking for a new world because his misdeeds, committed more through a matter of human frailty than any meanness, have left him without a home on this one.”

(E-mail me at or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia. E-books and books based on material that debuted on this site are available in the link below.)

Tom Petty E-Book

Good news, everybody. Endeavour Press, my co-conspirators in endlessly detailing the songs of rock’s finest artists, have just published an e-book on my Tom Petty list. It’s called Breakdown: Tom Petty’s 100 Best Songs. As I will be taking down many of the Petty essays from the blog, it will be the only place to read the complete list, so I encourage all TP fans to give it a look see, especially considering the very affordable price. Here are the Amazon links:



If you do purchase the book and you’ve got a minute, please write a review on Amazon and, if you’re on the UK Amazon site, hit the “Like” button.

As for the blog, I promise my Radiohead list is in the offing real soon, and I’m starting to think about exclusive blog content of some sort to give something back to my loyal readers who have been with me since the start. Talk to you all soon.

(E-mail the author at

Tom Petty Countdown #5: “Insider”

The story behind this song is that Petty wrote it with the intention of giving it to Stevie Nicks, then thought it too good to let go. Nicks understood and agreed to sing back-up on “Insider,” Petty eventually gave her “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which the two rode all the way to the bank, and all was fine with the world, right?

Well, not quite, because, while there’s no doubting that “Stop Draggin’” is a great song, “Insider” is not just better, but is one of the best songs that Petty has ever written. And yet it remains largely unheard, tucked away quietly on Side 2 of Hard Promises. I’m begging you, casual TP fans, look this song up, and you’ll be as floored as I was when I discovered it upon purchasing the CD many years ago.

First of all, it is a tender band performance, featuring what may be Benmont Tench’s finest moments with the Heartbreakers. His organ propels the music in the verse, riding over the acoustic guitar and hitting all of the right emotional notes without ever overdoing it. His pounding piano in the wordless bridge is more elemental, as he bashes way in conjunction with the frustration of the narrator.

Then there’s the stunningly great duet that Petty and Nicks perform here. On “Stop Draggin,” it was more of a he said/ she said vibe, but here, they’re on the same team. As Petty woefully tells his tale yet keeps his emotions on a low boil, Nicks acts as his id, letting loose with all of the pain he’s too proud to show.

Above all, it’s a wonderful song, with music that sighs and then surges as each new wound rises to the surface, and lyrics that nail the plight of someone whose vision of a perfect love is ultimately betrayed. When Petty draws the curtain to revel the third party who has ultimately interfered with this scenario, it’s with a mixture of disgust and concern: “I’ll bet you’re his masterpiece/I’ll be you’re his self-control/Yeah you’ll become his legacy/His quiet world of white and gold.”

In the final moments, as he tried to define his own role in this farce, he comes to the shuddering realization that he simply wasn’t what she wanted: “And I’m the one who oughta know/I’m the one you left to rust/Not one of your twisted friends/I’m the one you couldn’t love.”

On this last line, Petty’s voice practically quakes, the façade finally coming down. It is an overpowering moment in this amazing song. This guy may say he’s an “Insider,” but few songs have ever so expertly detailed the helplessness of what it’s like to be on the outside of a relationship looking in.

(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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Tom Petty Countdown #13: “Rebels”

Petty nearly ended his career over this song, as he shattered his hand by punching a wall in frustration over his inability to nail a proper recording. I can see his point. The drums are way too glossy for the earthiness of the tale, there’s an awkwardness in the return to the chorus at song’s end, and the whole thing lurches from section to section instead of flowing.

Sometimes a song is so good though that it’s hard to damage it too much. “Rebels” is just such a song. From the very first line, Petty creates a character who is defined by his mistakes: “Honey don’t walk out, I’m too drunk to follow.” His voice is all self-deprecating shame in the first verses as he depicts his various misdeeds in hilarious fashion.

But the third verse reveals another side to this guy, as he sings with wounded pride about the grievances he perceives that his forefathers suffered, grievances that affect him acutely in the present day: “Even before my father’s father/They called us all rebels/While they burned our cornfields/And left our cities leveled/I can still feel the eyes of those blue-bellied devils/Yeah, when I’m waikin’ ‘round at night/Through the concrete and metal.”

It’s a brave songwriting stance to take, even though it is just words in the mouth of a character, to depict the North side of the Civil War as the bad guys. The only other time I’ve heard it pulled off well is “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band, and even then, the character is filled with more sadness than anger.

But Petty nails it. And when he bursts into that chorus, with the 12-string ringing out alongside him, it’s hard not to get pulled along in the emotion, no matter what part of the country you call home. That’s a significant achievement, and, in the face of that, all technical problems the song might have seem pretty meaningless.

(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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Tom Petty Countdown #28: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”

You would think from the video of this duet with Stevie Nicks that turned into a big hit (#3 on Billboard) that the song was a proper collaboration between the band and the Fleetwood Mac chanteuse striking out on her own. But in fact, Petty and Mike Campbell wrote the song for the Heartbreakers to record, which they did. Producer Jimmy Iovine then convinced Petty to give this song to Nicks for her own album, Bella Donna.

So what you end up getting is Nicks’ singing overdubbed onto the Heartbreakers recording, with Petty’s original vocal mostly edited out except for a single verse and during the refrains, when Nicks harmonizes over the top of him. The result was so seamless that it stands as one of rock’s great duets.

It works wonderfully as such because of the lyrical content. If Petty had sung it by himself, it might have come off as a one-sided and condescending request to a young girl (“You need someone looking after you”) to let the man take charge of her life. With Nicks on board, it becomes a running argument that hits surprisingly profound levels, aided and abetted by The Heartbreakers soulfully restrained performance.

From such an unlikely beginning, a hit song was born. With artists of this caliber, it turns out they don’t even have to be in the same room together to create magic.

(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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Tom Petty Countdown #32: “Straight Into Darkness”

The Heartbreakers had a pretty high batting average in the late 70’s and early 80’s when it came to songs released as singles going on to become legitimate hits. Here was one case that I think they should have pushed a song as a single, because “Straight Into Darkness” is a practically flawless rock song that was left to languish as an album cut on Long After Dark.

This is one of those of those numbers with nary a wasted moment. It cleverly builds anticipation in the listener with the subtle piano play of Benmont Tench in the beginning. The first verse is also very downbeat and restrained, but when Petty busts out with the line “Then one day the feeling just died,” the band takes its cue and explodes into the crackerjack refrain.

Once there, you’re in Heartbreaker heaven, with the Searchers-style riff cementing each of Petty’s powerful lines. He wraps things up with a glimmer of hope and wisdom in the final verse, a refusal to give in to the darkness: “I don’t believe the good times are over/I don’t believe the thrill is all gone/Real love is a man’s salvation/The weak ones fall, the strong carry on”

Grace and hope find their way in the midst of the despair, and Petty finds his way to another classic, one that a lot more people should know.

(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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