The Petty Archives

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | She's the One | Warner Brothers
Review by Carleton Gholz
The Mac Weekly - October 31, 1996

Joanna Curtis, WMCN's co-general manager, says that Tom Petty is one of the scariest men. Period. Not just in rock, mind you, but in all walks of live. Why take a stab at one of pop rock's everlasting standbys in the Dylan-less days of large deregulated corporate rock? "What?" I said. "You don't like this guy? But his songs are so depravingly simple. Look at that smile. Watch those videos. Don't they speak to you?" And with a look of mild disgust Joanna turned away.

I must have been duped! I really liked that last record, Wildflowers, and honestly have soft spots in my heart for Full Moon Fever ("Running Down a Dream"... yeah). But ahhh, the experience of having your brain sucked out by indie rock. You aren't allowed to listen to corporate mind candy; you have to hold yourself up to some higher standard (at least while sober). God forbid you scream along to "Back in Black" in the middle of the day or find yourself carelessly snapping your fingers to Donna Summer tunes. Likewise, don't feel safe staging a reenactment of the Damn the Torpedoes tour in your dorm room anymore... not that I ever did.... You can't prove anything.

But the truth of Petty's mediocrity ends up hitting far too hard on this soundtrack, an attempt to sell a movie which, I have heard, sucked. When the closest current Dylan figure is a dorky twenty-something named Beck, one has to wonder where the space is for Mr. Petty and his Heartbreakers. Crying in your beer about your high school girlfriend is only so endearing. And so I write off my Petty sympathies like I write off my fascination with Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down: no one can prove a thing.