Tom Petty Special Mostly For Friends
By Noel Holston
Orlando Sentinel — July 5, 1985
Native son: Only relatives, one-time neighbors and true-blue fans of Gainesville-bred rocker Tom Petty are likely to find much of interest in Southern Accents, a half-hour documentary and record promotion that MTV is showing Saturday night at 11. And even they may find their patience tested.
Nothing much happens and, as Petty has sung, ”The waiting is the hardest part.”
Since they formed 10 years ago, Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, have become major stars playing a brand of rock that recalls the Byrds, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Southern Accents, the LP from which the Saturday night MTV special takes its title, is high on the Billboard charts now.
The MTV special combines an interview with Petty, in which he talks about the album and his Southern roots; fragments of a Heartbreakers jam session on the roof of the fabulous Don CeSar hotel in St. Petersburg Beach; and scenes of Petty driving around old haunts in Gainesville. There’s also a frustratingly short excerpt from his ”Don’t Come Around Here” video, an elaborate Alice in Wonderland dreamscape in which Petty is cast as the Mad Hatter.
The half hour’s most satisfying segment is a sort of budget video — black-and-white footage of lower-middle-class neighborhoods, fishing holes and souvenir stands set to the wistful strains of ”Southern Accents,” Petty’s song about the erosion of the South’s distinguishing characteristics.