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Tom Petty - Top 25

Few artists created music with as much magic, wistful freedom, exhilaration, and sheer joy than Tom Petty. His music romanticized the open road, love, heartbreak, destiny, dreaming big, and the possibilities of life out there in the "great wide open" in a way unique to all other artists. His music embodied personal freedom and living life with a freewheeling spirit, to embrace change in stride and to live a full, big-hearted life in search of your destiny. 

He made music that was often incredibly sweet and poignant, but also very affirming and righteous.  And he did it all the while with a warm smile and self-assuredness that was equal parts inspiring and comforting. 

His music has served as the soundtrack to some truly great moments in my life.  "Time To Move On", "Won't Back Down", "Learning to Fly", "Free Fallin", and "Running Down a Dream" motivated me to seek out my own destiny in life and to never look back.  What incredibly righteous songs.  "The Waiting" and "Here Comes My Girl" romanticized the idea of "true love" for me, while "I Need to Know", and "Breakdown" were the soundtrack to some rough patches.  I danced to "Don't Do Me Like That" on my wedding day and I've sung "Alright For Now" and "Wildflowers" to my beautiful sleeping baby girls when they came along. And now that they're older, I dance with them to silly songs like "Zombie Zoo" and the sheer awesomeness that is "American Girl".  My heart wells up thinking about these songs and all the beautiful memories I associate with them.

And it's not like my experience with his music is unique. Countless of other people around the world have identified with his music over the years, creating their own beautiful memories in the process.  His music taps into the best qualities of the human experience, namely love and freedom. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, and that's because Tom Petty had a heart of pure gold, and that translated directly into his epic songs.  

Below are my personal favorite Top 25 Tom Petty songs of all-time, but it really only scratches the surface. So roll another joint and raise a glass to the beauty, majesty, grandness, and the journey of life that was such an integral part of Tom Petty's music.

R.I.P. Tom.  We love you.

 

Honorable Mention - Alright for Now (1989)

 

Dedicated to my beautiful baby daughters.

  

#25 - Depending On You (1989)

Another domestic bliss song, dedicated to my beautiful baby girls.

 

#24 - Zombie Zoo (1989)

Ever dance with a toddler to this song? I'd highly recommend it :)

 

#23 - Apartment Song (1989)

"Oh yeah I'm alright I just feel a
Little lonely tonight
Listen, I'm okay, most of the time
I just feel a little lonely tonight"

 

#22 - Love is a Long Road (1989)

"There was a girl I knew

She said she cared about me

She tried to make my world
 
The way she thought it should be
 
Yeah we were desperate then
 
To have each other to hold
 
But love is a long long road
Yeah love is a long long road
 
There were so many times
I would wake up at noon
Yeah, with my head spinning 'round
I would wait for the moon
And give her one more chance
To try and save my soul
But love is a long long road
Yeah love is a long long road
Some things are hard to give up
Some things are hard to let go
Some things are never enough
I guess I only can hope
For maybe one more chance
To try and save my soul
But love is a long road
Yeah love is a long long road

 

#21 - You Wreck Me (1994)

"Now and again I get the feeling
Well if I don't win, I'm a gonna break even
Rescue me, should I go wrong
If I dig too deep, if I stay too long

Oh, yeah, you wreck me, baby
You break me in two
But you move me, honey
Yes you do"

 

#20 - Shadow of a Doubt (1979)

"There goes my baby, there goes my only one. 
I think she loves me, but she don't want to let on. 
Yeah, she likes to keep me guessin', 
She's got me on the fence with that little bit of mystery, 
She's a complex kid and she's always been so hard to figure out. 
Yeah, she always likes to leave me with a shadow of a doubt."

 

#19 - Need to Know (1978)

"I need to know (i need to know)
I need to know (i need to know)
If you think you're gonna leave
Then you better say so
I need to know (i need to know)
I need to know (i need to know)
Because I don't know how long
I can hold on
And if your makin' me wait
If you're leadin' me on
I need to know (i need to know)
I need to know (i need to know)"

 

#18 - Time to Move On (1994)

"It's time to move on, time to get going

What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going
Broken skyline, movin' through the airport
She's an honest defector
Conscientious objector
Now her own protector
Broken skyline, which way to love land
Which way to something better
Which way to forgiveness
Which way do I go
It's time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going
Sometime later, getting the words wrong
Wasting the meaning and losing the rhyme
Nauseous adrenalin
Like breakin' up a dogfight
Like a deer in the headlights
Frozen in real time
I'm losing my mind
It's time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going"

 

#17 - First Flash of Freedom (2010)

 

Kind of random, but, this song created a uniquely blissful experience on a roadtrip I took down to Tennessee/North Carolina back in 2010.  It was my first time out of Chicago on a roadtrip, first time in that part of the country...this song is just so mellow to me.  Beautiful.

 

#16 - Feel A Whole Lot Better (1989) (Byrds Cover)

 

"The reason why oh, I can't say I have to let you go, baby and right away
After what you did I can't stay now
And I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone

Baby for a long time (baby for a long time) you had me believe (you had me believe)
That your love was all mine (that your love was all mine) and that's the way it would be
But I didn't know (but I didn't know) that you were putting me on
And I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone, when you're gone

Now I gotta say (I gotta say) that it's not like before (that it's not like before)
And I'm not gonna play your games any more (and I'm not gonna play)
After what you did (after what you did)I can't stay on
And I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone
Oh, when you're gone, oh when you gone, oh when you gone"

 

#15 - Even the Losers (1979)

"Well it was nearly summer, we sat on your roof
Yeah we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I showed you stars you never could see
Babe, it couldn't have been that easy to forget about me

Baby time meant nothin' anything seemed real
Yeah you could kiss like fire and you made me feel
Like every word you said was meant to be
Babe, it couldn't have been that easy to forget about me

Baby even the losers
Get lucky sometimes
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes

Two cars parked on the overpass
Rocks hit the water like broken glass
Should have known right then it was too good to last
It's such a drag when you live in the past

Baby even the losers
Get lucky sometimes
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes"

 

 

#14 - The Waiting (1979)

"Oh baby don't it feel like heaven right now

Don't it feel like something from a dream
Yeah I've never known nothing quite like this
Don't it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could have ever told me 'bout this
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
Well yeah I might have chased a couple of women around
All it ever got me was down
Then there were those that made me feel good
But never as good as I feel right now
Baby you're the only one that's ever known how
To make me want to live like I want to live now
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
Don't let it kill you baby, don't let it get to you
Don't let 'em kill you baby, don't let 'em get to you
I'll be your breathing heart, I'll be your crying fool
Don't let this go to far, don't let it get to you"

 

#13 - Listen to Her Heart (1978)

"You think you're gonna take her away
With your money and your cocaine
You keep thinkin' that her mind is gonna change
But I know everything is okay

She's gonna listen to her heart
It's gonna tell her what to do
She might need a lot of loving
But she don't need you

You want me to think that I'm being used
You want her to think it's over
You can't see it doesn't matter what you do
Buddy, you don't even know her

She's gonna listen to her heart
It's gonna tell her what to do
She might need a lot of loving
But she don't need you

And you just can't creep up behind her
And you can't understand that she's my girl
She's my girl, aah

Yeah, she's gonna listen to her heart
It's gonna tell her what to do
She might need a lot of loving
But she don't need you, ooh"

 

#12 - Here Comes My Girl (1979)

"You know , sometimes, i don't know why,
But this old town just seems so hopeless
I ain't really sure, but it seems i remember the good times
Were just a little bit more in focus

But when she puts her arms around me,
I can, somehow, rise ab ove it
Yeah man, when i got that little girl standing right by my side,
You know, i can tell the whole wide world, "shove it, "

Hey, here comes my girl, here comes my girl,
Yeah, she looks so right, she's all i need tonight

Every now and then, i get down to the end of a day,
I'll have to stop, ask myself, "what've i done?"
It just seems so useless to have to work so hard,
And nothin' ever really seem to come from it

And then she looks m e in the eye, says, "we gonna last forever, "
And man, you know i can't begin to doubt it
No, because this feels so good and so free and so right,
I know we ain't never goin' change our minds about it

Hey, here comes my girl, here comes my girl,
Yeah, she looks so right, she's all i need tonight

Yeah, every time it seems like there ain't nothin' left no more,
I find myself havin' to reach out and grab hold of somethin'
Yeah, i just catch myself wonderin', waitin', worryin'
About some silly little things that don't add up to nothin'.

And then she looks me in the eye, says, "we gonna last forever, "
And man, you know i can't begin to doubt it
No, because this feels so good and so free and so right,
I know we ain't never goin' change our minds about it.

Hey, here comes my girl, here comes my girl,
Yeah, she looks so right, she's all i need tonight"

 

#11 - Learning to Fly (1991)

"Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well the good old days may not return

And the rocks might melt, and the sea may burn

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I've started out, for God knows where
I guess I'll know when I get there

I'm learning to fly, around the clouds

What goes up, must come down

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing"

  

#10 - I Won't Back Down (1989)

"Well, I won't back down

No, I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down
No, I'll stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Well I know what's right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground
And I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
No, I won't back down"

  

#9 - Mary Jane's Last Dance (1993)

"She grew up in an Indiana town
Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights

Well, she moved down here at the age of eighteen
She blew the boys away, was more than they'd seen
I was introduced and we both started groovin'
She said, "I dig you baby, but I got to keep movin' on
Keep movin' on"

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again

Well, I don't know, but I've been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I'm tired of screwin' up, tired of going down
Tired of myself, tired of this town

Oh, my my, oh, hell yes
Honey, put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song
Take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again

There's pigeons down on Market Square
She's standin' in her underwear
Lookin' down from a hotel room
Nightfall will be comin' soon

Oh, my my, oh, hell yes.
You got to put on that party dress
It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone
I hit my last number and walked to the road

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again"

 

 

#8 - Breakdown (1976)

"It's alright if you love me
It's alright if you don't
I'm not afraid of you running away
Honey, I get the feeling you won't

There is no sense in pretending
Your eyes give you away
Something inside you is feeling like I do
We said all there is to say

Baby Breakdown
Go ahead and give it to me
Breakdown honey take me through the night
Breakdown now I'm standing here can't you see
Breakdown, it's alright
It's alright
It's alright

Breakdown
Go ahead and give it to me
Breakdown honey take me through the night
Breakdown now I'm standing here can't you see
Breakdown, it's alright
It's alright
It's alright"

  

#7 - Wildflowers (1994)

Dedicated to Natalie May.

"You belong among the wildflowers

You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere all bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free"

 

#6 - Free Fallin' (1989)

"She's a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She's a good girl, crazy 'bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It's a long day livin' in Reseda
There's a freeway runnin' through the yard
And I'm a bad boy, 'cause I don't even miss her
I'm a bad boy for breakin' her heart

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

All the vampires walkin' through the valley
Move west down Ventura Blvd.
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
All the good girls are home with broken hearts

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

Free fallin', now I'm free fallin'
Now I'm,
Free fallin', now I'm free fallin'

I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
I'm gonna free fall out into nothin'
Gonna leave this world for awhile

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

Yeah I'm free, free fallin'
Oh! Free fallin'
Now I'm free
Oh!
Free fallin'"

 

#5 - Running Down a Dream (1989)

"It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down

I had the radio on, I was drivin'
Trees flew by, me and Del were singin' little Runaway
I was flyin'
Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream
I felt so good like anything was possible
I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
The last three days the rain was unstoppable
It was always cold, no sunshine
Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream
I rolled on as the sky grew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There's something good waitin' down this road
I'm pickin' up whatever's mine
Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream"

 

#4 - American Girl (1976)

"Well she was an American girl 
Raised on promises 
She couldn't help thinkin' that there 
Was a little more to life 
Somewhere else 
After all it was a great big world 
With lots of places to run to 
Yeah, an d if she had to die 
Tryin' she had one little promise 
She was gonna keep 

Oh yeah, all right 
Take it easy baby 
Make it last all night 
She was an American girl 

It was kind of cold that night 
She stood alone on her balcony 
She could the cars roll by 
Out on 441 
Like waves crashin' in the beach 
And for one desperate moment there 
He crept back in her memory 
God it's so painful 
Something that's so close 
And still so far out of reach 

Oh yeah, all right 
Take it easy baby 
Make it last all night 
She was an American girl"

  

#3 - Refugee (1979)

"We got somethin', we both know it, we don't talk too much about it
Ain't no real big secret, all the same, somehow we get around it
Listen, it don't really matter to me baby
You believe what you want to believe, you see

You don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you want to lay there, revel in your abandon
Honey, it don't make no difference to me baby
Everybody has to fight to be free, you see

You don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)
No baby you don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)

Baby we ain't the first
I'm sure a lot of other lovers been burned
Right now it seems real to you, but it's
One of those things you gotta feel to be true

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some
Who knows maybe you were kidnapped tied up,
Taken away and held for ransom
Honey, it don't make no difference to me, baby
Everybody has to fight to be free, you see"

 

#2 - You Don't Know How It Feels (1994)

 

"Let me run with you tonight

I'll take you on a moonlight ride
There's someone I used to see
But she don't give a damn for me
But let me get to the point, let's roll another joint
And turn the radio loud, I'm too alone to be proud
You don't know how it feels
You don't know how it feels to be me
People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow cold
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream
So let's get to the point, let's roll another joint
Let's head on down the road
There's somewhere I gotta go
And you don't know how it feels
You don't know how it feels to be me
My old man was born to rock
He's still tryin' to beat the clock
Think of me what you will
I got a little space to fill
So let's get to the point, let's roll another joint
Let's head on down the road
There's somewhere I gotta go
And you don't know how it feels
No, you don't know how it feels to be me"

 

#1 - Don't Do Me Like That (1979)

"I was talking with a friend of mine
Said a woman had hurt his pride
Told him that she loved him so
And turned around and let him go
Then he said, you better watch your step
Or your gonna get hurt yourself
Someone's gonna tell you lies
Cut you down to size

Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
What if I love you baby?
Don't do me like that

Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
Someday I might need you baby
Don't do me like that

Listen honey, can you see?
Baby, you would bury me
If you were in the public eye
Givin' someone else a try
And you know you better watch your step
Or you're gonna get hurt yourself
Someone's gonna tell you lies
Cut you down to size

Don 't do me like that
Don't do me like that
What if I love you baby?
Don't, don't, don't, don't

Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
What if I need you baby?
Don't do me like that

'Cause somewhere deep down inside
Someone is saying, Love doesn't last that long
I got this feelin' inside night and day
And now I can't take it no more

Listen honey, can you see?
Baby, you would bury me
If you were in the public eye
Givin' someone else a try
And you know you better watch your step
Or you're gonna get hurt yourself
Someone's gonna tell you lies
Cut you down to size

Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
What if I love you baby?
Don't, don't, don't, don't

Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
I just might need you honey
Don't do me like that

Wait
Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
Baby, baby, baby
Don't, don't, don't

No
Don't do me like that
Don't do me like that
Baby, baby, baby

Oh, oh, oh"

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