Tom Petty

Jan 14, 1983

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  1. 1 Interview 11:16
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The main thematic element in this interview is the apparently poor fit between a soft-spoken guy like Tom Petty and his monstrous level of fame. When recorded with Lisa Robinson in early 1983, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers had just released Long After Dark, which became their third album in a row to reach the top ten. And, thanks to some success with the new MTV format, every teenage girl in America could recognize them. At the same time, their music was still more reminiscent of the L.A. folk rock scene of the 1960's than the soon-to-be-released Thriller album that was about to rock the world.

From being a front man to his discomfort making music videos to performing for sexually charged audiences, Petty's message is the same: he's just a musician and will take whatever comes his way. The interview is an excellent portrayal of a star with a level head and, fame aside, it is difficult to listen without wanting to hang out with him.

00:00 - Videos for "You Got Lucky," "Letting You Go" / difficulties with the medium
01:15 - Being oneself on stage
01:54 - Difficulty being a front man / learning from Peter Wolf
03:00 - A quiet guy / the reason he doesn't party backstage
03:40 - Why people thought he was stupid
04:34 - Why L.A.? / carrying on the tradition
05:18 - "Breakdown" standing the test of time / trans-Atlantic travels
06:13 - Harder to play small clubs than arenas; when the change happened
07:11 - Becoming addicted to touring / not knowing where you are
08:09 - The highest compliment
08:38 - The disposability of gold records / a tomato in the face
09:23 - Sexual (but not violent) audiences
09:52 - Attempted murder by the audience / the difference between him and Bruce Springsteen
10:36 - Empathy for his fans