The most iconic songs from an iconic performer
American Girl (1976)
The ultimate iconic Petty track – and the song the Strokes spent their entire career ripping off.
Best bit: That first chord – so much promise, so much jangle, so much joy.
Free Fallin’ (1989)
Written with ELO’s Jeff Lynne, this was made for swooning to whilst driving around LA. Try it.
Best bit: When Petty croons: “She’s a good girl/Is crazy ‘bout Elvis.”
Learning To Fly (1991)
Like The War on Drugs? Then this dreamy early 1990s hit will have you in raptures.
Best bit: The way it chugs. It’s simply chug-tastic.
I Won’t Back Down (1989)
Defiance never sounded so good. This cut from Tom Petty’s first solo album – ‘Full Moon Fever’ – is Tom at his most meditative.
Best bit: When the chorus comes in the first time. Those harmonies. Mate.
Runnin’ Down A Dream (1989)
Further proof of Tom Petty’s hatred of the letter ‘g’, ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’ is another roadtrip classic. Windows down, cruising at 60 perfection.
Best bit: How the whole thing sounds like an engine in top gear.
Even The Losers (1979)
A song for everyone out there who thinks they’ll never make it/get the girl/have fun. Even the losers get lucky sometimes, guys.
Best bit: The near perfect line: “We smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon.”
Don’t Come Around Here No More (1985)
This soulful smasher was inspired by an encountered between Stevie Nicks and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics which ended up with Stevie telling Dave not to come to her house any more after a big old drug party.
Best bit: The sweet, sweet backing vocals. Pretty sure that’s the noise angels make.
Into The Great Wide Open (1991)
An epic story crammed into three and half minutes, this is the tale of a wannabe rock star who makes it big then makes it small again. Filmic.
Best bit: The video is a Hollywood tour de force, with Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway and a pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc all vying for screentime.
Mary Jane’s Last Dance (1993)
Produced by Rick Rubin, this harmonica heavy tune is a classic country tune that’s been fed through the classic rock filter. Jukebox genius.
Best bit: Another tune with a killer video – quite literally. This one sees Kim Basinger playing a dead lass that morgue worker Petty decides to take home. It’s more fun than it sounds.
Handle Me With Care (1988)
The supergroup to end all supergroups, as well as Petty Traveling Wilbury’s featured Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne. Unsurpsingly, this is one heck of a tune – folky but fierce.
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Best bit: Just, like, all of it.
A playlist featuring Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tom Petty and Traveling Wilburys