Monday, August 30, 2010

Petty! Loyalty!

If you haven't seen Peter Bogdanovich's Tom Petty documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, you should definitely take a look. I watched the director's cut this week, and it was four hours well-spent. It presents Petty as an extremely gifted guy and a guy with an unshakable loyalty. But the loyalty is to making great music more than it is to his band members. It was pretty clearly Petty's was or the highway.

Some of the most interesting scenes in the movie were discussion where a band member (soon to be an ex-band member), is upset with the direction Petty wanted to take the band. One of the best is when bass player Howie Epstein says he isn't interested in playing on a particular song because he doesn't think it is very good. The song turns out to be the Petty classic Free Fallin'.

But that got me to rethinking Petty's loyalty. The man has kept at least the core of the same band together (with Ron Blair even returning), through an over 30 year career. And as BSD and I discussed this, BSD pointed out that since 1982 the best three Petty albums were the three solo albums, not the eight Heartbreakers albums over the same period. So if that is the case (and I agree that it is), why does Petty bother to keep the Heartbreakers together at all? Maybe Petty's loyalty is a little more complex than the documentary would have you believe.

1 comment:

bigsmithdude said...

Petty knows what works, and in his case, it is the contributions of Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, both of which are all over the solo albums. he learned early on that while he can certainly sing and write great songs, often times he is only as good as the back line of musicians supporting him. he ain't no dummy from the south...


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