I’m probably overlooking someone right now, but in my mind, the two rock acts most directly associated with the state of Florida are Jacksonville’s Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gainesville’s Tom Petty. Today brings us “Damn the Torpedoes”, the third album from Petty and his band the Heartbreakers, which proved to be his breakout success. The album is rated #231 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
My appreciation for Petty and his music has definitely grown over time. Early in his career, I couldn’t get past the Dylan soundalike voice, but I was just wrong, and am happy to admit it. As with several other artists, I wish I had seen Petty and the Heartbreakers when I had the chance… another artist gone too soon.
The hard-rocking and familiar “Refugee” opens the record with a blast, and the next two pop songs, “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even the Losers” just build on the first track for a triple-header of really good Petty songs to start this album. They can’t all be big hits, but I really like the next song, “Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid)”, and “Century City” had to be a great song to see live.
Another legendary Petty song, with its iconic piano and organ opening, “Don’t Do Me Like That” kicks off side two. It isn’t hard to see why this album did so well and lifted Petty to superstar status. “You Tell Me” keeps the good groove going. “What Are You Doin’ In My Life?” is not my favorite song on this album, it is just a little too much Petty sneer for me on the chorus, but the record ends on a really high note with the sweeter sounds of “Louisiana Rain”, a really nicely written song.
He spent most of his professional life in southern California, but I appreciate the Florida roots of Tom Petty. I wish he was still here to come back and grace us with his music like he should be, but life doesn’t always work out that way.