The Petty Archives

Tom Petty is a pretty safe play at halftime
By Rick Massimo
The Providence Journal - Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are playing the halftime show of Sunday's Super Bowl -- insert your favorite wardrobe-malfunction joke here.

Petty's getting the gig (supposedly The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen were also in the mix of candidates) is the continuation of a fairly clear reaction to the moralistic kerfluffle over the 2005 halftime show that included not only Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's infamous, um, revelation but keepin'-it-real performances from Nelly and Kid Rock. Subsequent Super intermissions were headlined by Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Prince (who sneaked in his own little subversive shadow-play behind a large curtain).

Petty's aw-shucks demeanor contrasts with the traditional glitz of the halftime show, and the hope here is that the producers will honor that. Prince, the Stones and McCartney are all larger-than-life  performers, yet even the Stones looked lost in the spectacle, which isn't easy for them. A straightforward concert is what Petty does, and a straightforward concert is what one hopes we get -- backup dancers need not apply.

There's been a lot of speculation about the set list, with no definitive answers. Petty told www.rollingstone.com that he would be "approaching it as a pretty high-energy rock and roll show -- maybe like it used to be in the 1960s where you come on, do four or five of your best numbers and get off." That would seem to leave off "Free Fallin'." And Petty says "it was strongly hinted" that he not do "You Don't Know How  It Feels," with a drug reference in the chorus.

So where does that leave us? Well, with a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame body of work to pick from. So keep your Patriots and your Giants and your first downs and your free throws or whatever -- here's my Super Bowl prediction:

"American Girl"
"Even the Losers"
"Breakdown" (with maybe "Don't Come Around Here No More" thrown in)
"Runnin' Down a Dream"

And if the over-under is Elvis Presto (look it up on YouTube), you know what to do.