The Petty Archives

Portraits in music
By Joshua Klein
Chicago Tribune - November 18, 2007

Truth is stranger than fiction, goes the saying, but that presumes it's easy to tell the two apart. This holds particularly true in the world of music, where myth and legend often loom larger than the recorded legacy itself; Bob Dylan has exaggerated, embellished or outright fabricated more of his life story than even the most creative biographer could ever hope to invent.

No wonder, then, that the rich and complicated history of rock and pop continues to inspire filmmakers. Some films from this fall's slate of music documentaries and biopics attempt to show what really happened. Others are more interested in some version of the truth rather than the real thing. And still others use pop myth as a jumping-off point for parts unknown or even unknowable.


"Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Running Down a Dream"
Tom Petty has made a lot of compelling music, but the man has rarely allowed his life to be seen in clear focus. Considering Petty is a far cry from his commercial and creative peak, maybe the timing seems odd for a feature-length documentary. Then again, noted director Peter Bogdanovich makes a passionate case for relevancy with his all-access four hour portrait of the artist, his bandmates and their 30-year ups and downs, much of it comprising rarely seen archival footage and frank interviews. Currently airing on the Sundance Channel.