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Doof's Top 50 Tom Petty Songs

An artist who's been in the Doof listening rotation since the very start, maybe since I was eight or nine years old. So nostalgia is a factor here, and if a finger can be pointed to any artist to explain my subsequent love of country rock/americana then it should probably land here. I'll admit I find the early Heartbreakers stuff a little old fashioned so if you feel that era is underrepresented I feel you...but this is just my take.
50Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Long After Dark

'You Got Lucky' [3.5]

The 80s. No one escaped.
49Tom Petty

'Cabin Down Below' [3.5]

Groovy number with a cool atypical low singing delivery from Petty. Close to jam rock here.
48Tom Petty
Highway Companion

'Big Weekend' [3.5]

Sounds exactly as you'd expect a country rocker with that name to sound. Solid dust kicker.
47Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
She's The One OST

'Change the Locks' [3.5]

Great humorous vocal delivery from Tom, they even ending up using a take where Petty cracks up at himself delivering these lines. Tongue in cheek badass swagger with loads of ad lib 'look out's and 'yeah's thrown in.
46Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Long After Dark

'Finding Out' [3.5]

Underrated deep cut rocker from one of Tom's less well known albums.
45Tom Petty

'Honey Bee' [3.5]

'I wouldn't hurt my little honey beeeeeeee' - oh really. 'I'm a boy in short pants when I see my honey bee'. This'll be a fun one then. 'Buzz awhile!'. Lol.
44Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedoes

'Louisiana Rain' [3.5]

Fittingly epic closing ballad to 'Damn the Torpedoes'.
43Tom Petty

'You Don't Know How it Feels' [3.5]

A little plodding for a second track maybe, but solid and the harmonica was a good choice. 'Let's get to the point, let's roll another joint' - if ever there was a lyric to win an audience over...
42Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedoes

'Even the Losers' [3.5]

Nostalgic rocker with that underdog spirit Tom would keep on returning to.
41Tom Petty

'You Wreck Me' [3.5]

One of his best blues rockers, a bit obvious maybe, but it's always an enjoyable listen.
40Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

'Feel a Whole Lot Better' [4]

Petty at his most Beatles flavoured on this Byrds cover.
39Tom Petty
Highway Companion

'Saving Grace' [4]

Driving bluesy opener for a latter career album that captured a bit of the old late 80s/early 90s Petty magic.
38Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

'Zombie Zoo' [4]

All a bit 'granpaw dun't understand tham goths' but still a fun rocker.
37Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
She's The One OST

'We Grew Up Fast' [4]

Impressive slow building rocker boasting some well judged intense vocals. Tom could sound authentically bitter/angry and still radio ready, and that's such a bonus for a performer of pop/pop rock tunes.
36Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

'The Wild One Forever' [4]

Histrionic as you like, very OTT but has a kitschy appeal all its own. Almost Bowie or Iggy-like in his embracing of his inner diva.
35Tom Petty

'Don't Fade On Me' [4]

Tom wasn't all about writing pop hits, he could also deliver some authentic sounding blues/country/folk and this is one of his most successful forays into this sort of territory.
34Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Hard Promises

'The Waiting' [4]

Some top class 'yeah yeaaaahs' in this one and a chorus practically begging for radio airplay.
33Tom Petty
Anthology Through the Years

'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around' [4]

Well this shows why all those Fleetwood Mac comparisons make sense, a really effective duet between Nicks and Petty (well, Nicks definitely dominate the vocals all told but still).
32Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

'Depending On You' [4]

A really insistent song that just marches along at a constant pace with really singalong lyrics and vocal hooks.
31Tom Petty

'It's Good to Be King' [4]

'The world would swing if I were king' - Petty matches these sentiments to a grand composition with a sort of wistfulness stirred in ain't gonna happen, he'll only be king when 'dogs get wings'.
30Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
You're Gonna Get It!

'I Need to Know' [4]

Was the second Heartbreaker's album a case of Tom trying to toughen up. This has a rockabilly snarl to it which is maybe not entirely convincing...but the song is still a lot of fun.
29Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Southern Accents

'Rebels' [4]

One of Tom's most successful underdog anthems - 'one foot in the grave, and one foot on the pedal...I was born a rebel.'
28Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Long After Dark

'Straight Into Darkness' [4]

Another one that reminds me of Fleetwood Mac in a huge, huge way. One of the Petty tracks that's grown on me the most over the years.
27Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Into The Great Wide Open

'Two Gunslingers' [4]

Some heavy handed metaphors here but it's an enjoyable romp nonetheless.
26Tom Petty

'Higher Place' [4]

Really upbeat feel good tune with some nice harmonica and washes of keyboard.
25Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
She's The One OST

Angel Dream (no 2) [4.5]

Similar to the above track. A wispy acoustic love song, and one of the man's prettiest compositions.
24Tom Petty

'Wildflowers' [4.5]

Memorable opening title track built around a masterful mix of acoustic guitar and keyboard. One of Petty's most understated moments.
23Tom Petty

'Crawling Back to You' [4.5]

Very Fleetwood Mac style soft rock ballad with cooing vocals.
22Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedoes

'Here Comes My Girl' [4.5]

All about the contrast between the stripped back almost spoken word verses and the unapologetic lush sentimentality of the chorus. A straightforward love song Petty style.
21Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Into The Great Wide Open

'Into the Great Wide Open' [4.5]

A fun dig at the romantic notion of making it big in the music industry - obviously Petty makes sure he matches these lyrics to a song of supreme catchiness and quality that seems altogether effortless.
20Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Southern Accents

'Don't Come Around Here No More' [4.5]

Some psychedelic elements and a case of 80s production overload helping the 'out there' quality to the music. If you think all Petty songs sound kinda similar this is the track to listen to next.
19Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

‘I Won’t Back Down’ [4.5]

That classic snarly Petty vocal delivery makes this song and gives it its attitude. Great backing vocals during the chorus.
18Tom Petty
Highway Companion

'Square One' [4.5]

One of Petty's most touching acoustic efforts, his ageing vocals really help sell the song.
17Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

‘Love is a Long Road’ [4.5]

This song is the definition of radio rock with a bit of an 80s influence. Petty can always be relied on to deliver a decent chorus - but so often it’s his verses that steal the show. That’s certainly the deal here.
16Tom Petty
Highway Companion

'Night Driver' [4.5]

Fantastic atmosphere to what is the standout song from 'Highway Companion', every part of this song has a sleepy half-dreamt quality to it, especially the organ whenever it shows up.
15Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

'Breakdown' [4.5]

One of Tom's earliest hits taken from the debut Heartbreakers album. As I said, the early stuff is more old fashioned, but this works thanks almost entirely to Petty's charisma/attitude in the vocals. 'Go ahead, give it to me'.
14Tom Petty

'Wake Up Time' [4.5]

The vocal delivery is 99% Dylan here and the composition sports lashings and lashings of cheese...but I'll be damned it Petty doesn't pull it all off. An ingenious set closer, and an honest to god tearjerker to boot.
13Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

‘Runnin Down a Dream’ [4.5]

Solid rocker with a classic guitar solo and one of his most memorable riffs.
12Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
She's The One OST

'Walls' [4.5]

Catchy, catchy, catchy. How Petty could write what were, for all intents and purposes, cheesy sentiment radio hits like this and yet make them feel so addictive and gritty I don't know. Make no mistake, it's the hardest thing, you don't see many other artists pulling the trick off successfully.
11Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
You're Gonna Get It!

'Listen to Her Heart' [4.5]

'You think you're gonna take her away with your money and your cocaine' - welcome to the music industry! A slightly more unconventional arrangement in so much as the verses and chorus just sort of blend as the song motors along. Early in the man's career but this song already seems to sweat effortless cool.
10Tom Petty
Anthology Through the Years

'Mary Jane's Last Dance' [4.5]

The Beatles influence is there again in the chorus, faintly psychedelic. A bit of a mishmash of styles but all the elements blend together so well it all feels natural. The line 'she's standin' in her underweeeaaaaar' is delivered like a champ.
9Tom Petty

'To Find a Friend' [5]

Or 'Yer So Bad pt 2' in reality. Similar feel, similar story of relationship woe. Is the narrator entirely trustworthy - is it hard to find a friend? Or is it in fact harder to 'keep' a friend?
8Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedoes

'Refugee' [5]

Another mega hit, showing that our Tom was here to stay at the top of the rock radio playlists for the foreseeable. Awesome screams, awesome organ tone.
7Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

‘Free Fallin’ [5]

One of the two Petty songs everyone knows (‘American Girl’ being the other of course) and I’m guessing loved and loathed in equal measure. That’s just the way it goes with songs this ubiquitous. For me, with the associations I’ve built up, I can’t be cynical about it. Just those first few chord strums and I’m won over, it’s a strange hit in a way - an anthem about a man being a bad sort and walking away...then feeling exhilarated as a result. Old school.
6Tom Petty

'Time to Move On' [5]

Pretty sure the War on Drugs have spun this one a few times, has that same dreamlike vibe. Perfectly well judged vocal delivery from Tom on this one.
5Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedoes

'Don't Do Me Like That' [5]

More relationship politics from the Stone Age I guess is how this comes across now, but I love how Petty still sounds such a badass discussing the pitfalls of shacking up with a hot piece of tail.
4Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Into The Great Wide Open

'Learning to Fly' [5]

One of those songs that's so simple in its melody, lyrics and intentions that it could be almost insulting if it didn't possess a certain magic quality to it. This just has that certain quality that's hard to define...and hard to force. Makes flying sound as natural as breathing. Strangely a busker was playing this as I walked to the National gig at Hammersmith Apollo just last week and I stopped to listen, he was doing a great job with it. Timeless.
3Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

'American Girl' [5]

An undisputed classic. Easily one of Tom's best ever choruses, and surely one of the top fifty radio rock choruses of all time. What's even more impressive is that the verses are just as well written and memorable and afford the song real longevity and depth. The youthful Tom vocals here are a lot of fun too and the instrumental guitar outro was the perfect choice.
2Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

‘Yer So Bad’ [5]

Petty had a certain cool swagger to his music which he then paired with this faintly humorous, no nonsense approach to his lyrics. You can’t beat the simplicity of this tune matched with classic deadpan lines like ‘now he’s got nuthin’, head in the oven’ delivered in that nasal drawl. Just a classic combo that many have failed to replicate.
1Tom Petty
Full Moon Fever

‘A Face in the Crowd’ [5]

It’s hard to put into words the impact a song you’ve loved for 28 years has had on you. I first listened to this aged ten, in the back of the family car no doubt, and I was always skeptical about music at first as a young boy. A love song, a wistful sort of love song, the idea forces were already in motion elsewhere in the world - the cast of characters who’d populate your life already out there. In particular the person you’d share your life with - a lad of ten you’d maybe say doesn’t need to think of such things..but life isn’t cut into neat portions. You just keep thinking about everything all the time is the truth of it, especially the future...especially who you might be destined to meet. To my mind one of the most beautiful songs of all time.
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