Certain Songs #1012: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “You Can Still Change Your Mind”

Album: Hard Promises
Year: 1981

$9.98.

That’s $27.92 in 2017 dollars. And more importantly, it’s what MCA — at that point the worst record company in the world (IMHO for how they treated their reissues of the early Who albums) — wanted to charge for the follow-up to the massively successful Damn The Torpedoes. They’d already done it with the most recent Steely Dan album as well as the Xanadu soundtrack, so why not with one of the most anticipated albums of the year?

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Certain Songs #1011: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “A Thing About You”

Album: Hard Promises
Year: 1981

September 6, 1981 was the first time I saw Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. If my memory serves, Tim & I drove up to Sacramento in his light blue Chevy Luv pick-em-up truck, blasting a Pretenders bootleg I’d somehow snared on cassette.

It was the climax of the California Exposition and State Fair, and being September in California, it was hot as fuck. So hot I remember that they had to pull people over the barricades who were suffering from heat exhaustion. But as hot as it was, it wasn’t any kind of match for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, who played a hit-heavy set that included Stevie Nicks on the songs where you would expect Stevie Nicks but also focused on Hard Promises, including my second favorite song from it, “A Thing About You.”

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Certain Songs #1010: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “The Waiting”

Album: Hard Promises
Year: 1981

It was around this time that I came to develop my Tom Petty Theory. Which is this: with his band, his melodic sense and his dedication to rock ‘n’ roll, it was simply impossible for Tom Petty to put out an album that I didn’t like.

It was a good enough theory to last for more than twenty years, until The Last DJ blew it to smithereens, but in 1981, listening to Tom Petty’s fourth album in five years — it seemed like he was just getting better and better, especially as it led off with what is probably my favorite of all of his songs, “The Waiting.”

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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.

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Certain Songs #1008: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Even The Losers”

Album: Damn The Torpedoes
Year: 1979

What made Damn The Torpedoes an instant success were the two massive hit singles “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee,” which were all over both AM and FM radio as the 1970s crashed into the 1980s.

But what made it an enduring classic is the dynamite first side: “Refugee,” “Here Comes My Girl,” today’s song “Even The Losers,” the lovely “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid),” and the rollicking “Century City.”

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