Album: Into The Great Wide Open
The thing about Into The Great Wide Open that has always confounded me is that while it has several very good to great songs, and an incredibly consistent sound, it’s still not in my upper echelons of Tom Petty albums.
And I’m not exactly sure why. There are two possible reasons: the first is that I was originally a bit pissed at his appropriation of “rebel without a clue” from Paul Westerberg — which I realize is stupid, given that I have no idea whether or not Paul appropriated it from somewhere else.
The other, more serious reason is that it feels like an album that focuses more on craft than inspiration. While the floor is incredibly high, the ceiling is incredibly low. Outside of “Learning to Fly” or “Built to Last,” there are no all-timer Petty songs on this record, and there are most certainly no wild swings for the fence
And I think that it’s the one Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album that came out when Tom Petty was kinda questioning the need for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but also realizing that a) he wanted/needed the band structure and b) who else was he going to get that was better than Mike Campbell & Benmont Tench to anchor his music?
And so, what came out was a perfectly serviceable album with perfectly serviceable songs like “Kings Highway,” “Out in the Cold,” “All or Nothing” and yup, “Into The Great Wide Open” itself, all of which are excellent, if not quite as excellent to my ears as “All The Wrong Reasons” and todays “You And I Will Meet Again,” a late highlight of an album that I’d give a B-plus to even though most of the songs are A-minuses.
And so “You And I Will Meet Again” rides on a mix of electric and acoustic guitars, chattering drums and an instantly hooky chorus or verse or something.
You and I will meet again
When we’re least expecting it
One day in some far off place
I will recognize your face
And then Howie Epstein comes in with an absolutely killer harmony as the guitars and drums rattle around them.
I won’t say goodbye my friend
For you and I will meet again
After a bridge, there’s a longish instrumental section, featuring a guitar solo from Campbell, a keyboard solo from Tench and even a buildup to a full stop before Petty kicks into the last verse.
A red-winged hawk is circling
The blacktop stretches out for days
How could I get so close to you
And still feel so far away?
I hear a voice come on the wind
Saying you and I will meet again
I don’t know how, I don’t know when
But you and I will meet again
After that, another instrumental section full of guitars and keyboards and drum buildups and even Tom’s (I assume) voice wailing in the background, and it’s excellent throughout, but also a bit bloodless, even if I enjoy it intensely in the moment.
“You And I Will Meet Again”
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