The Top 25 Tom Petty Songs

October 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

25. “Insider” (with Stevie Nicks)

The perfection of the drums leading their harmony into the chorus.

24. “Ways to Be Wicked”

The perfection of the title. (Also made into a perfect cover by Lone Justice.)

23. “Make It Better (Forget About Me)”

Perfect horn-section earworm.

22. “Won’t Back Down”

Oh Lord, the perfection of Mike Campbell on the guitar in this song.

21.”Learning to Fly”

Perfect sing-along at a Heartbreakers show. (I will always remember Tom Petty leading us on the chorus both times we saw him live.)

20. “You Got Lucky”

Perfect mid-80s synth-rock.

19. “The Waiting”

The perfection of the chorus in this song.

18. “Walls (Circus)”

The perfection of “You’ve got a heart so big, it could crush this town.” (And the perfection of Lindsay Buckingham on backing vocals.)

17. “Straight Into Darkness”

The perfection of tone here; and of Benmont Tench on the piano.

16. “Free Girl Now”

The perfection of shouting out freedom.  (This is a criminally underrated album, by the way.)

15. “The Wrong Thing to Do” (w/ Mudcrutch)

The perfect swampiness of this song. And of that first verse, the kind of thing that seems utterly effortless but only Petty seems to be able to do. Not to mention that chorus.

14. “Breakdown”

The perfect tempo. The perfect cool.

13. “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)”

The perfection of his delivery of “she’s a complex kid.”

12. “You Wreck Me”

The perfection of “Now and again, I get the feelin’/ If I don’t win, I’m gonna break even.” (Also a sucker for “I’ll be the boy in the corduroy pants/You’ll be the girl at the high school dance.”)

11. “Keeping Me Alive”

The perfection of this song’s throwaway quality. It makes my heart hurt.

10. “Listen to Her Heart”

The perfect first line. (And another perfect Mike Campbell guitar solo.)

9. “Runnin’ Down a Dream”

The perfect driving song.

8. “Change of Heart”

The perfection of the bridge… “Oh yeah, oh boy, looks like we’ve finally reached a turning point.”

7. “Refugee”

The perfect anthem.

6. “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

This song… just a perfect pop song. With a gorgeous match of lead and backing vocals.

5. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”

The perfect karaoke song.

4. “Even the Losers”

The perfection of “Even the losers get lucky sometimes.” And of longing, here.

3. “Wildflowers”

The perfect ballad. Perfect summer music.

2. “Free Fallin'”

The perfect note: on “Jesus,” on “free,” on “good,” on “bad.”

  1. “American Girl”

The perfect story song.

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