Tom Petty and Vinyl

Author: | Filed under: What To Watch

I’ve been a Tom Petty fan for a long time, and I recently watched “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream”, which is a very comprehensive documentary about his career.

One of the things I found interesting was that it made me realize how many great songs (and how many hit songs) Petty has written.  I guess I never really put this together until the movie reminded me.  Also, it was enlightening to hear him talk about the various stages of his career, and to learn what was happening in his life when he was putting together the various albums and how certain songs came into being.

Most surprisingly, the movie made me feel quite a pang of nostalgia about the golden age of vinyl.  I know LPs are coming back into vogue somewhat, but I sincerely doubt they’ll ever be as important (or as omnipresent) as they once were.  I have a fairly large vinyl collection that I have no desire to part with, and I’ve lugged them back and forth across the country more than a few times over the years.  These are records from several genres spanning several decades.

For those of us who came of age during the days of vinyl, you know there was nothing like opening up an LP for the first time, especially when you had waited for a new release for a long time.  There was something so great about having a Side 1 and a Side 2 and how each side could tell its own story, and the warm sound of the needle searching for the groove the first time you played it, and of course the lost art of large-format album covers.  (And remember the additional art opportunities presented by record sleeves and inserts, and lyrics that were actually printed large enough to read?)

Anyway, back to Tom Petty.  My favorite part of the film was the first section, which covered the start of his career.  It was fun to watch his face as he talked about his first band, his first breaks, and his first record.  It was captivating to see how much it still genuinely excited him to remember those heady times.  It made me wonder whether he is still able to access the sense of thrilling possibility that first made him want to do this for a living when he performs all these years later.