Certain Songs #1009: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Century City (Philadelphia 07-08-1980)”

Album: The Live Anthology
Year: 1980

I got to see Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers seven times in the 1980s & 1990s, so I knew what kind of great live act they were, but even then I was unprepared for how much I loved The Live Anthology when it came out in 2009.

Covering performances from nearly three decades (some of which I might have actually seen) (but more on that later) on four discs and costing about $20 to boot, The Live Anthology made the case for their greatness in a way that the relatively dull Pack Up The Plantation failed to do over two decades previously.

A perfect example is this rollicking live version of “Century City,” the last song on the stellar first side of Damn The Torpedoes. Written about the legal battles he was going through at the time — in order to get out of a record contract he’d signed under duress, he had to declare bankruptcy — “Century City” could have been a drag, but instead it was a gleeful joyous satire.

On Damn The Torpedoes, “Century City” has everything right there in place, but on this live version, they’re always about two seconds from it all falling apart, especially as they barrel into the chorus.

We’re gonna live in (Century City)
Go ahead and give in (Century City)
Like modern men, modern girls
We’re gonna live in the modern world

With Mike Campbell’s guitar burning down barns to make room for the modern world and Stan Lynch building skyscrapers with every beat and fill, this live version of “Century City” rocks the fuck out, and then rocks the fuck out some more.

“Century City (Philadelphia 08-07-1980)”

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