Torpedo hit puts Petty at the top
The Sydney Sun-Herald — April 20, 1980
“We’re always hearing that we’re the future of rock and roll,” said Tom Petty last January. “I don’t want to be the future — I want to be the present.”
Petty, 28-year-old Florida-born musician, had his wish soon after, when his album, Damn the Torpedoes, hit the top of the U.S. charts.
Petty and the Heartbreakers begin their Australian tour with concerts at the Capitol Theatre next Saturday and Sunday. To celebrate, we have 25 copies of the soar-away album from Astor to give away.
There’s a juicy story behind every Petty song, a slice of his experiences with his record company, friends and the world at large.
Refugee, the hit single, is aimed squarely at the bigwigs of MCA who kept him in and out of court for a year in a contract wrangle:
Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some,
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped, taken away, held for ransom
It don’t really matter to me
Everybody’s had to fight to be free.
Petty gets the lawyers who caused him all that aggro in his sights on Century City:
Don’t worry about the rain, don’t worry about the thunder.
Century City’s not everything covered.
An earlier song, Listen to Her Heart, carries a message: Don’t mess with cocaine. In a telephone interview with the Sun-Herald, Petty said: “It’s a true story. A lot of people in California, LA especially, have this cocaine habit. It never fails to crack me up.
“The song is sort of a sneer at the cocaine etiquette. I don’t use it myself.”
Restless is a throwback to the alienation and confusion of his adolescent days, while in Shadow of a Doubt he bemoans an on-again, off-again romance.
Petty’s bag is heavy-duty rock, a counterpoint to his raspy voice which reminds one critic of Jagger’s menace and Dylan’s twang.
He’s been compared frequently with Bruce Springsteen, too.
“That’s nice of them to say so,” said Petty, “we’re about the same age, both American and we both have well-known bands. But I don’t think we sound alike, and I don’t think he influences me.”
Tom Petty is his own man.