Let’s stop dragging this countdown around cuz I ain’t gonna do you like that. We’re just gonna breakdown the Top 20 and get right to it.
Hi-Top Top 50 Greatest Tom Petty Songs
20. Learning to Fly
Believe you me the Heartbreakers knew a thing or two about the white gold, the nose candy, the Peruvian marching powder, the cocoa, snow, the flake, sugar, the ol’ Bing Crosby, the bathroom mirror. Cocaine. The song is about cocaine.
Benmont Tench shines again. I think somewhere earlier on the list I may have called Mike Campbell the secret sauce of the Heartbreakers but truthfully that’s probably a more accurate description for Tench. There’s something utterly distinct about his keyboard and organ work that is unlike anyone else. There’s no mistaking a Heartbreakers song for any other band once you hear those keys.
18. Yer So Bad
Some might say 18 is too high for “Yer so Bad”. Those people are what I like to call “fools”.
17. Into the Great Wide Open
Not many rock n rollers did the whole MTV thing better than Petty. He just really took to and took advantage of music videos in a way most other rock bands and artists didn’t. Like can you picture more than one Springsteen or Mellencamp video? Petty has a bakers dozen videos that are instantly recognizable and remembered. This one staring Johnny Depp is among the best.
16. Don’t Do Me Like That
Another Heartbreakers classic that is just completely driven by Benmont Tench’s keys.
15. You Wreck Me
This is a Lil’ Dogg personal fave pick right here. I doubt most people would put this one so high, probably doesn’t crack the Top 25 on most lists but this is my list so here it is.
14. You Don’t Know How it Feels
Sometimes a little harmonica is all you need.
13. Runnin’ Down a Dream
The greatest “driving your car on the highway and playing drums on the steering wheel” song ever created. You know the part – da duh da duh da da
The man constructed a song like nobody else. The build up to the exploding chorus in this one is just an absolute master class in songwriting.
11. Free Fallin’
Yes. I did it. I put “Free Fallin'” outside of the Top 10. Is this a great tune? A classic? Possibly Petty’s most widely known mainstream pop hit? Yes to all of that. And 11 is NOT BAD. The eleventh best Petty song is better than 99.9% of all music ever recorded. It’s just that there are 10 better Petty jams. “Free Fallin'” is almost too easy. In fact the story goes that Petty made up the first part of the song as a joke, strumming the simple chords and singing lyrics off the top of his head. He was just that good at songwriting that even when he was messing around he couldn’t stop himself from inadvertently creating a classic. Tom Petty was just that talented.