Although Tom Petty, who died yesterday at age 66, hailed from Florida, the rocker, along with his band the Heartbreakers, became an electrified part of Southern California’s musical tapestry. Petty picked up the torch from the sun-soaked Laurel Canyon of California country where the Eagles soared and plugged in for some of the greatest classic rock songs.
With more than four decades of music, he had multiple albums that reached that iconic “must own” status across the decades, including “Damn the Torpedoes,” “Full Moon Fever” (1989) and “Wildflowers” (1994), but if you want to listen to some of his best, start with these.
10. “Even the Losers”
This power pop gem off “Damn the Torpedoes” has lyrics so descriptive that you can picture the scenes unfolding even on the first listen. It opens with “Well, it was nearly summer, we sat on your roof/Yeah we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon.”
9. “You Wreck Me”
Off “Wildflowers,” this track, which is instantly identifiable by the opening three chords, kicked off the encore of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 40th anniversary tour.
8. “Yer So Bad”
The opening lyrics of this one, off “Full Moon Fever,” are among of Petty’s best beginnings – “My sister got lucky, married a yuppie/Took him for all he was worth.”
7. “I Need to Know”
“I Need to Know” is the closest Petty gets to punk. Put it on, turn it up and hit the gas.
6. “Free Fallin’”
Everyone knows this one. And if you live in Southern California, you can identify the spots named. We all want to glide down, over Mulholland Drive, don’t we?
Another classic off “Damn the Torpedoes,” the chorus is iconic, but the bridge into that organ solo from Benmont Tench is one of the highest points of the entire album.
4. “You Don’t Know How It Feels”
The simple “We Will Rock You”-style drums play off a great harmonica riff. The “Wildflowers” entry has been…