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Please listen below to some shows that are coming up in Montreal ! Hear some great tunes as well.
It was a pirate life. Now – it’s gone.
No other Rock n’ Roll star (aside from Keith Richards) walked the walk and talked the talk more than Tom Petty.
Swagger complimented his ability to convey energy to an audience with a ‘Dude’ – like calmness. Uncanny in the world of songwriting. Combining speed with no energy. Lyrics in tune with America’s pulse while tuning out to the American pulse.
‘No negative waves man’.
Actor Donald Sutherland is surely a fan.
From the get – go, Petty would ‘not back down’. Fighting for the right to party as he hid his songs from the grip of the evil empire ( record company ). Losing almost everything to retain his integrity and in turn – giving hope to all songwriters. He was the first ‘independent’ artist before it was fashionable.
so lets get to the point
lets roll another joint
lets head on down the road
to somewhere i gotta go
and you don’t know how it feels
you don’t know how it feels
to be me”
from – Roll Another Joint
Anyone over the age of fifty remembers where they were. Damn the Torpedoes. Damn right.
The album and the songs. So distinct yet so familiar. So new yet so old. A freshness was added to ‘ The Great American Songbook.’ A velocity so acute, it was dressed to be unsharp. Therein lay the beauty of a Tom Petty tune. Rock n’ Roll was meant to be ragged, dirty and raw. Petty mirrored songs after himself. Part punk – all Petty. All raw.
Unlike most – the songs kept coming.
Just when the old lady started singing, Petty would interrupt. Loudly and with an exclamation point. The more the setlist grew, the aura surrounding ‘his Pettyness’ grew. Along with his beloved Heartbreakers – the landscape was far from safe. The pirates kept looting and pillaging. The scoundrels were allowed ‘inside’.
Travelling to the Wilburys cemented his place. Feet firmly planted among the legends he adored. Petty was one of them. His internal star; brighter than ever. His songwriting challenged.
The sun sets everyday. Sometimes it does not rise.
Like most creative artists – demons do not stop the noise at 11pm. The struggle to maintain silence at arm’s length, a lifelong battle. A war within oneself no matter the friends and adulation. The inflictions, creating yet taking away. Addition by substraction. Subtraction by addiction.
There is, no peace from the wicked.
Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand…
From – The End of the Line
That is the case with the DVD; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream (2007)
Everyone knows the hits. ‘Breakdown’, ‘Here Comes my Girl’, ‘Refugee’, ‘Freefallin’. etc etc …
Tom Petty ( in case addition is not your strongpoint) has more hits and has been around longer than any band since the mid-seventies except for The Rolling Stones. Petty and his Heartbreakers have arrived in 2016 as legends.
Watching the DVD ( directed by the legendary Peter Bogdanovich), three things arrive quickly. A trio of thoughts as clear as a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke. One – Tom Petty is a very cool dude, two – Petty is one tough Motherf*cker and finally; Tom Petty is a songwriter’s songwriter.
The film excavates the Heartbreaker’s history. Unearthing gems of information straight from Petty’s voice. Tom, in a strange Lewis Carroll kind of way, narrates his story. Vintage footage the only interruption in Petty’s disclosures. Voiced only as Petty can. Cool, dry and in the true form of someone who loves his ‘Mary Jane’.
Fitting since – it is his story …
‘Mudcrutch’ was the name of the original band.
Petty and his Gainsville, Florida buddies, arriving at legendary status in a town bordered by Alligators. Mudcrutch even forming it’s very own festival to accommodate the fans. A ‘backyard festival that became so large – it had to be cancelled due to ‘success’. A twist of irony which was the precursor to the start of Petty and the soon-to-be-Heartbreakers.
Tom Petty along with some members of the band ( Mudcrutch) headed to LA to get a record deal. Mission accomplished as the group landed not one but two offers. The returned to Gainesville, sold off their possessions and headed West toward fame and fortune. Two things which appeared imminent. A pair of non-concrete entities which arrived with some surprises.
Without giving too much away, their story began with a changing of the name, early success in England and a historic battle with their record company. Petty, upon learning he did not own the publishing rights to his songs, predated his own lyrics. Petty stood up and said;
” I won’t back down …’
At a time when most bands would not ‘bite the hand that feeds them ‘, Petty was as rebellious as a band leader as he was as a young boy. Fighting tooth and nail to keep what was rightfully his. Interestingly, the press he received for his battles, inadvertently worked for him. The adage; ‘There’s no such thing as bad press’ becoming the invisible motto for his legal struggles.
The outcome was positive and unprecedented in the music business. Petty was officially an outlaw.
The album ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ ( which became a mega -seller) was written during his court battles (hence the title) and The Heartbreakers never looked back. The momentum along with Petty’s uncanny songwriting ability, instilling Rock n Roll back into the consciences of a FM radio format that was struggling.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers saved Rock n Roll.
The nearly four hour long DVD spins the yarns. The drug – fuelled period following the band’s reception of their first triple zero cheques. The musical infighting of the band. The workaholic Petty constantly writing while his bandmates; in Petty’s words – ‘Chased women or whatever it was they did’. Everything imagined by non-fans is magnified, adjusted and added in a fascinating story of a Rock n Roll band. An historical journey into one of America’s greatest poets and songwriters.
Like any tale of the guitar string, facts emerge into the personal history of men and women who obtain ‘fame’. It is human nature to explore, identify and analyze those who achieve greatness and / or obscurity aka ‘ ‘Rags to riches’ or riches to rags’.
Bogdanovich’s microscope discovers Petty’s demons. His beatings both verbal and physical at the hands of his Father. An experience which made Petty both ‘ambitious’ and ‘tough’. A ‘dual’ personality which gave him the intensity to fight his battles. Unearthing this fact also identifies two factors among musicians in general who hit it big. Petty and his story – par for the stage.
Bono, Hendrix, Joplin, Richards, Petty – the list is impressive and long. A common denominator among music stars is they either had bad relations with their Fathers or lost their Moms at a young age. A fascinating discovery of the psyches of many stars who have touched the world’s souls through music and words.
Poetic license for their own pain.
The remainder of the DVD explores the music. Live and studio footage from Tom’s long and winding career punctuated by tales of songwriting, musicianship and relationships within music. It is an exemplary tale of ‘how to stay together’ as a unit.
More historic footage emerges with The Travelling Wilburys front and center. Arguably, the most talented group of musicians and songwriters assembled in a studio. Legend upon legend. Learning and growing off each other. A turning point for Petty and a main reason the Heartbreakers survived and became relevant post – MTV. Tom citing that experience as a refresher course for his songwriting skills.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’ ( available on Netflix) is a must-watch for music fans both passing and profound.
Fans will discover new facts and non-fans will become fans. At the least, non-fans will receive Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in a different light. An admiration earned by a bunch of Florida boys whose passion and commitment carried them through thick and thin.
The award show to top all award shows …
An occasion where all the artists who wish they were musicians get together and collect phone numbers. Cleavage replaces talent and talent attempts to keep abreast.
In all fairness, the majority of the nominees started out in music for the right reasons. In all fairness – the majority of those nominees are not American …
The Grammy Award show does have it’s moments. Memories created by words the microphones do not pick up. Verbal gems.
Here now, are the
10. Shouldn’t Tom Petty be receiving the award that Sam Smith just won?
9. Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry looked great but … what does this have to do with music?
8. Hey Mom? I waved at that Stevie Wonder guy and he didn’t wave back? Your generation of stars are very rude ..!
7. Is John Mayer a legend or is John Legend a mayor? I always forget ..?
6. Is it true that Tony Bennett is Tom Jones’ father?
5. Um …sorry about that. I was calling an usher … Please get back on stage, I think you are supposed to be singing ….
4. I know they are not really playing their instruments or singing but we have to plug them in to make it appear as they are …
3. I don’t care what I just said – unplug Madonna’s microphone! Quick!
2. Hey man – is there a place where I can hear some good tunes?
Tom Petty is the real deal …
In an age where ageing Rock stars more often than not mail in performances, Petty with his band of Heartbreakers – as refreshing as a sea breeze on a hot and humid day.
The sixty-three year old Petty, on tour with his latest album Hypnotic Eye – took the stage at 9pm with a statement which set the stage ( so to speak) for an evening void of pretentiousness.
” We are going to give you a Rock ‘ Roll show …” Claimed Tom. ” It may be long. Better call the babysitter …”
Starting with a cover of the Byrds’ tune; So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – Petty and his mates were powerful. A garage band with all amplifiers cranked to the max. A garage band one phone call away from a late night police visit. A garage band with smoke emerging through the cracks.
Petty himself, a throwback to the seventies. In speak, in appearance and most importantly – in attitude. Think of ‘The Dude’ in the film The Big Lebowski. Now – think of ‘The Dude’ with a guitar in his hands and a Dylan-esque voice. The sum of all parts becomes Tom Petty. A Rock singer who appears ‘surprised’ and ‘at ease’ in front of a large crowd. A songwriter who may be the ‘last guitar man standing’.
As Petty swash-buckled his way through ‘ Mary Janes Last Dance’, American Dream Plan B’ ( from his recent album Hypnotic Eye) and the foot tapping (stomping) cover of Big Joe Williams’ ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’; thoughts of Springsteen, Dylan and Neil Young circled the Bell Center in Montreal. Tom Petty a combination of all three yet so unique and legendary. A survivor from the 1970’s with a smoke-filled bong intact.
‘Into the Great Wide Open’ book-ended ‘Mary Jane’ with a sneer of nostalgia while ‘Forgotten Man’ (off Hypnotic Eye) reeked of a Bo Diddley nostalgic rhythm. Refreshing since ‘American Dream Plan B’ was dull and ineffective and signaled the demise of Petty’s recent songwriting ability. ‘Forgotten Man’ allowed a sigh of relief into the room as did ‘You Get Me High” ( the latest single) later on. Petty’s songwriting intact.
‘I Won’t Back Down’ was the evening’s anthem. A biographical statement on the part of Petty and more so as the years pass by. A finger to authority if there ever was one; the audience ‘au Centre Bell’ agreed. On their feet, singing, waving and embracing it as their own personal scripture. The former ‘Wilbury’, perhaps sensing a ‘capturing’ of the crowd; traveled once more into his vast catalog. The opening chords of ‘Free Fallin’ sealed the deal and pushed everyone who may have been ‘on the fence’ – into the waiting arms of Tom, The Heartbreakers and ‘Mary Jane’.
Much like the Stones, Dylan and The Beatles – Petty’s compositions are all about the songs. No drum solos, lengthy guitar ego-boosters and not a lot of banter. A man, his buddies and some tunes gather, sing and maybe loot and pillage. The only thing raped? Society and it’s hideous mask of rules and regulations.
‘A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me),’You Get Me High‘, ‘Rebels‘ and ‘Yer So Bad‘ – settled everyone in the seriousness and respect Petty has earned. For those only aware of ‘the hits’, a foursome complete with the gamete of balladry and rockers. Four songs which led into the homestretch. A home-run trot led by anthem number two …
‘Learning to Fly’ is the type of song identifiable by all ages. Everyone has endured, is enduring or yearns to endure the coming -of-age rite. The time where parents and / or their rules are shredded for independence. Petty sings the song with an underlying melancholy. A subterranean message of hope sets the audience’s heart adroit with nods of approval amid primal instincts.
Shadow people, will sing their heads
In the corner next to you
When the light is red
‘Shadow People”s words rang true. At the beginning, in the middle and near the end of the show. Everyone – singing their heads into submission. A ‘choir’ leading into ‘I Should Have Known It’, ‘Refugee’ and the show stopper; ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’. The latter? As perfect as a Rock song could be. A Menacing riff with a hard pounding drum beat, complimented by Petty’s uncanny vocal ability. A ‘gift’ to sound urgent and mellow at the same time and place. A feature saved for few.
Even the most jaded forty-and-up partisans at The Bell Center overcame their fear of the demise of Rock n Roll last night.
The exclusion of mega-hits ‘ Don’t Come Around Here No More’, ‘Breakdown’, ‘Here Comes My Girl’ and ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ ( among many others) did not dampen ‘the spirits’ of young and old alike. Petty and The Heartbreakers continued the ‘lesson’ in Rock n Roll with ‘ You Wreck Me’ and a perfect cover of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone. A duo fit for the evening’s finale.
American Girl was and is – the quintessential rock song. Complete with a theme on the mind of every boy (man?) on the planet. A rough guitar complimented by Petty’s non-threatening vocal style. Petty’s coup? Maybe or maybe not. Does it really matter …?
Stay tuned for Part two of my interview with Grand Fatilla!