TOM PETTY | Into the Great Wide Open | MCA
Review by Ivan Kreilkamp
SPIN — August 1991
On Into the Great Wide Open, Tom Petty plugs his drawly voice and twangy guitar into a sweet hard-rock formula, producing as many radio-ready hits as he needs, each one as pleasantly crisp as a fresh greenback. His tunes are so basic these days that they stand or fall by the strength and (relative) originality of their catchphrases. Lines like “I’m learning to fly / But I ain’t got wings” work; “A rebel without a clue” is lame. Further on, the dazed road-rip wisdom of “where the sky begins the horizon ends, despite the best intentions” anchors Petty’s dreamy soul to reality.
His cliches of freedom and escape are “built to last,” Petty’s wide open dirty road may just be an image he ponders as his jet taxis down the runaway, but it’s an enduringly meaningful symbol for homebound fans. Also included are moral fables about yuppies and rock stars who “want it all,” one drum break to die for, a political allegory, and songs about women that resonate oddly for anyone who recalls the scene in The Silence of the Lambs with Petty’s “American Girl” playing in the background (available mid-July)