Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 20 Best Songs


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"I Won't Back Down"
"You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won't back down." I consider myself brave, sometimes foolishly so; but we all have moments where we cower to the fear. We need songs like this to remind us of our inner superhero. That makes this my favorite Tom Petty song of them all. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.


"Listen to Her Heart"
Petty and the Heartbreakers began their concerts with this song for many years, and it's easy to see why. Campbell's opening riff is confident but low-key, just like Petty's first line: "So you think you're gonna take her away/ With your money and your cocaine." It's only the band's second album, You're Gonna Get It!, but obviously Petty had already had his fill of slick-talking music-business hustlers. But instead of getting angry, he responds to his anonymous rival with the quiet self-confidence that has always been one of his finest qualities. CHRIS GRAY


"Rebels"
The purest essence of Southern rock and roll. Fabulous, unforgettable lyric and all that Deep South soul Petty's always had. "Even before my father's fathers they called us all rebels/ Burned our cornfields, left our cities leveled" says it all. Yeah, I can still see the eyes of those blue-bellied devils. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH


"Running Down a Dream"
The song's guitar riff sounds urgent. It's the sort of hard-charging loop you need stuck in your head when you're climbing that mountain, running that mile, trying to clean house before your in-laws arrive. There's hope in the lyrics, and we all need hope. Wherever you're headed, Petty writes, "There's something good waitin' down this road." JESSE SENDEJAS JR.


"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
Let's be honest -- Petty's skeletal, sunken-eyed grill is the stuff of horror flicks. That video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" still gives me night terrors. Thanks goodness for this duet. Stevie Nicks gave us teenaged boys an angel face to drool over. This can't be understated, as we were subjected to 'round the clock showings of the video, one of MTV's first. But, that's okay because this song is awesome. It would only be improved by renaming it "Stop Dragging My Heart Down." JESSE SENDEJAS JR.


"Southern Accents"
I got Petty's sixth album while living in Asia. Between the title track and "Rebels," I had my own personal National Anthem. Isolated in Asia, for me "Southern Accents" was like a homesickness cure. I love the weariness in Petty's voice as he declares who and what he is. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH


"Spike"
"Another badass, another troublemaker, I'm scared, ain't you boys scared? Wonder if he's gonna show us what bad is?" The story Petty tells in his live shows about following this wannabe badass into a seedy Florida dive could almost be ripped right from the mean old bars of my childhood home in Odessa. "Boys, we got a man with a dog collar on, think we ought to throw old Spike a bone?" I can see my Dad saying that if you caught him in a bad mood or didn't show proper respect. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH


List continues on the next page.


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