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By Austin Scaggs
Rolling Stone #1002 — June 15, 2006
It’s been a while since the last Smoking Section, so let’s rewind to March 27th — that’s when we set foot in the L.A. home studio of Tom Petty. On the wall was a self-portrait by Bob Dylan, which, Petty explains, was “my production fee” for Dylan’s 1986 disc Knocked Out Loaded. Petty led us into his control room, where we sat behind the console and he played us tracks from his upcoming summer album, Highway Companion, which he made solely with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell (“Mike is just ridiculous,” says Petty) and fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne. After absorbing tunes like ‘Saving Grace” and the beautiful “Took a Long Time to Get Back Here,” we are ready to be the first to declare Highway a classic in the ranks of Petty’s Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers. Just wait till you hear him sing, “So if I come to your door, let me sleep on your floor/I’ll give you all I have, and a little more.” After that song, Petty leans back in his chair. “That’s pretty good, huh?” he asks. “I dig it.” Us, too. We’ll see y’all and Petty down at Bonnaroo — and don’t even try to sell us that bunk acid.