Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers In a Jam
By Larry Seel
Orlando Sentinel — May 3, 1987
In their new video, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are in a jam.
But it’s a media jam, not a musical jam. The guys appear to be overwhelmed by the flood of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, movies and TV shows that demand our attention. If you’ve ever had a similar feeling in this Information Age, you’ll enjoy “Jammin’ Me.”
The video begins with Gainesville’s favorite sons performing on a stage with a background of television snow. As each chord of the intro is struck, the background image changes to show a page of newspaper advertising.
Then we see drummer Stan Lynch standing at a window looking at a nuclear bomb explosion. He doesn’t like that scene, so he points a remote control box out the window and changes the scene to show a smiling cowboy and his horse. If only it were that simple …
During the chorus, the video exposes us to media jam. Close-up head shots of all five Heartbreakers alternate rapidly, achieving the same eye-straining effect of Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” If you want to know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by your TV set, try to focus on each face as it appears.
For the rest of the song, Petty cries out for the world to “take back” some of the things that are jammin’ him “into the corner” and “up against the wall.” These include media stars such as Vanessa Redgrave and newsmakers such as the Ayatollah and his Iranian torturers.
The video makes other interesting sociopolitical observations that I will leave for you to discover. Watch for Petty’s commentaries on racism, violence on TV and acid rain. You’ll get the message.
Anyway, this video has everything going for it. The song cranks, the footage is visually fascinating and, most importantly, the Heartbreakers are a Florida band.