The Petty Archives

by Archivist Liberty

I'm not sure why there aren't more sites like The Petty Archives for other bands. I guess because it can be hard work. At times, tedious; hours of searching, organizing, and typing. There are a lot of people who have questions, like why we do what we do. Many have assumed we're associated with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but we're not. We're just fans who see value in saving and organizing all of the articles, interviews, and reviews we can find. Reading a biography has its value, but that value is often in hindsight and reminiscence. Every time you recall a memory, little things change; things slip through the cracks. That's why we think there's value in compiling all of these articles from years gone by into a database that is simple to search and browse.  

Now that you know why we do it, we set up an interview to help you get to know us better.
Aimee and I interviewed each other and then we both answered user-submitted questions at the bottom. 

 Meet the Archivists: Liberty

Aimee: How did you first get into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers?
Liberty: I was staying with friends down in St. Pete [St. Petersburg, FL] and Peter Bogdanovich's film, Runnin’ Down a Dream, happened to be on. I was completely blown away by their story, the drive and passion. I was hooked ever since. This was early in 2007, so I’m pretty late to the party.

Aimee: Tell us about the concerts you've attended in the past.
Liberty: Well, I've seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers four times. They were my first concert. We were in the first row. Aside from Joe Walsh and other openers for Tom, I've seen Bob Dylan twice, Alice Cooper, and Leon Russell. I am not a fan of crowds, so I tend to avoid concerts these days. They're pretty expensive.

Aimee: On the about page, you list your favourite Tom Petty album as Wildflowers.
What caused it to change from Long After Dark?
Liberty: Reading about Wildflowers in Warren Zanes’s book gave it a whole new depth for me. Long After Dark is very close to my heart, but Wildflowers is really raw and open--just very poetic. I’ve also been through a lot of emotional turmoil over the past two years that allowed me to relate to Wildflowers more.


Aimee: Unless I'm mistaken, We first met on the official Tom Petty forum and became friends through there.
What else do you remember about that time?
Liberty: I don't remember much of it. I think I wanted to repress it because there were a lot of trolls that could be really mean. But I still talk to several people I met through the official forums, so it was worth it.

Aimee: How did you feel when I offered to hand over the Petty Archives to you?
Liberty: So excited! I loved the idea of being involved in a project like this. This is probably corny, but as a fan, it's kind of a status symbol for me. I love to be able to say I’m a part of this.

Aimee: Do you think you've changed any since taking over the Archives? If so, what ways?
Liberty: Yeah, I've changed a lot. My interest in the Heartbreakers kind of waned for a long time because I went through a lot of health issues, depression, and life changes. The Archives really fell to the side for a long time. Transferring the site and re-launching it really enthused me and got me interested again.

Aimee: What kind of work goes into the Archives?
Liberty: A lot of tedious stuff. I kind of like tedious work, because it puts your mind in a different place. I love editing the pictures and making posts for Facebook, but the actual Archives work is mostly finding content and processing it. I just bought two magazines on eBay with Tom on the cover. I'll scan them and put them on in the Archives.

Aimee: Where were you on October 2nd, 2017 when you first heard that Tom had suffered from cardiac arrest?
Do you remember your thoughts on that day?
Liberty: I woke up and checked my phone as usual. I had a few texts from people that was like, "I'm sorry. I just heard," and whatnot. I just kind of scrambled. I was really shaken. I lost a few really good friends three weeks beforehand, and I was definitely not ready to go through that again. It took me a really long time to grieve Tom because I hadn't finished grieving my friends. I guess I'm still grieving both. It's hard to lose people. Working on the Archives again has been incredibly cathartic for me and has helped me heal a bit.

Aimee: I came back to the Archives to help sort out some technical issues, and then decided to stay on afterwards.
Thoughts on that?
Liberty: It's nice having you around! I had been kind of neglecting the Archives over the past couple years and it's nice to collaborate and work in a team environment. I work from home on everything else and I don't really get any opportunities to work with other people.

Aimee: What music have you been listening to lately?
Liberty: Oh, god. I've been listening to Reputation by Taylor Swift nonstop since it was released. You caught me. You found me out. I've also been listening to Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and Hugh Laurie's first album, Let Them Talk. Turns out he’s an awesome blues musician. And the soundtrack to Edgar Wright's film, Baby Driver, which has a lot of old school soul and other fun stuff.

Aimee: So, what do you think's next in store for the Archives? Any last words you want to add?
Liberty: I don't know what's in store next. I'd like to create more original content. I'm just glad to have the site running again!

Meet the Archivists: Aimee

Liberty: How did you first get into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers?
Aimee: It was back in 2007. I was fourteen, a Beatles fan, and the Traveling Wilburys boxed set had just gotten released. I spent much of the summer listening to it and watching the included DVD that came with the deluxe set. I thought Tom was cute. Go figures.

Then I ended up getting copies of Greatest Hits and Full Moon Fever. And that's pretty much it. It was a pretty good time for new Heartbreakers fans, between the Bogdanovich biography and the Super Bowl performance.

Liberty: On the about page, you list your favourite Tom Petty albums as Damn the Torpedoes and Long After Dark.
What about Hard Promises? (It came out between those two albums).
Aimee: Hard Promises is pretty good. I love "Letting You Go." But it generally has a softer feel to it and most of the times I prefer harder edges in the music I listen to. I blame this on my friend, who listens to a lot of alt-rock.

Liberty: We first met on the official Tom Petty forum and became friends through there. What do you remember about those days?
Aimee: Not much, really. My memory of those days is quite foggy. I was in high school at the time, and I remember I was kind of an ass. Most of the crowd over on the officials were the over-40 crowd so I guess it would make sense that the younger members would become friends with each other. Millenials, I think we're called, and we can't afford houses because we're eating avocado toast. I prefer grilled cheese myself.

Liberty: Are you glad you handed the Archives off to me?
Was anyone else in the running to get them?
Aimee: I wouldn't say 'glad'; relieved is the better word, because my health hadn't left either the energy or finances to manage the website anymore, and I didn't want to shut it down. I don't recall enough to tell you if there was anyone else in the running, but I was looking for someone who would be enthusiastic about the project and had the technical know-how to keep the site up and running. I imagine that latter bit would've narrowed down the scope a bit.

Liberty: Why did you decide to host your collection as a website?
Did anyone convince you? Tell us how the Archives started.
Aimee: The Archives started as a collection of magazine PDFs that somebody had scanned and posted somewhere. I'd had them sitting in a folder a few years, and it was kind of hard to read the PDFs sometimes, so I typed them up. Then I discovered the now mostly-defunct Google News Archive, which had lots of newspaper scans from the past. So I looked up articles, took screenshots of them, typed them up. It seemed an awful waste just to keep it to myself, though.

So I made a website. I love the concept of building websites, really. I made my first one when I was something like nine years old. It was really bad. Think 'animated GIF as a background' bad.

I spent $10 for "forever hosting" (which turned out to be actually seven or eight months), loaded up a WordPress install, and started it up. I'm not sure why I called it "The Petty Archives." It was simple, I guess. And I was a big admirer of the Internet Archive, which runs the Wayback Machine. Still am. They do some good work.

Liberty: What kind of work goes into the Archives?
Aimee: Quite a bit, really. Searching for articles, processing the image files, typing the articles. 

For the newest launch of the site? Well, thankfully we didn't have to manually copy and paste over all the articles, as we managed to import the database in. But it broke all the links and image galleries and such. So that had to get sorted out.

Liberty: Where were you on October 2nd, 2017 when you first heard that Tom had suffered from cardiac arrest?
Do you remember your thoughts on that day?
Aimee: I remember waking up that morning, hearing about the shooting in Las Vegas on the radio, thinking "God, not another shooting," and then going back to sleep. Later on I was talking in a chatroom and doing some writing and my best friend starting trying to get my attention in the chat. It took me a bit to notice it and when I did it was about Tom having a cardiac arrest.

Spent most of that day in a daze, and can't recall much about it. Didn't help much that the news couldn't decide if he'd died or not. This was also around the time that I first learned that I might have YOPD, so I think my brain went into safe mode for a bit.

I do recall one thing, though, and quite clearly: Later that night I went to play The Sims 2 a bit to try to get my mind off of it. I did that—up until 12:40 a.m., when I suddenly didn't feel like playing it anymore. Almost felt like the air leaking out of a balloon. So I closed the game and went back to check the news and found out that Tom had died at 8:40 p.m. PST.

I'm four hours ahead.

Liberty: Other than the fact the site was struggling on WordPress and I needed help, why did you come back to the Archives?
Aimee: Boredom.

Liberty: You have many chronic illnesses, including Young-Onset Parkinson's.
How does this affect your day-to-day life?
Aimee: The hardest thing about YOPD is knowing that it's a progressive disease, and that there's no cure for it. I try to keep optimistic about it, though, as there's quite a bit of research being done on it.

Lots of other problems too, such as timing my levodopa (four times daily, and food affects the absorption of it). Having to walk with a cane due to balance issues and (thankfully, rarely) getting judgemental stares. Allocating more time to do stuff such as get dressed. Using plastic dishes because they don't break. I'm prone to falls, so I don't take showers when I'm home alone. Sleep problems, painful muscle contractions, drops in blood pressure, and a loss of facial expressions (see my picture for a good example of the 'Parkinson stare').

I also have hypothyroidism and iron-deficiency anemia. As long as I stay on top of my medications, I'm fine. If not, those two are a pretty awful combination to have—my twin demons.

It's not all as bleak as it might sound, though. For the most part, I've learned to adapt. I'm better at recognizing my limitations and asking for help when it's needed, although that's not always easy for a shy person. For the most part, the medication helps. And I just try not to worry about the future too much, lest I once more spiral down that path of worrying for the sake of worrying. Taking things a day at a time. "The future ain't what it used to be," indeed.

Liberty: What music have you been listening to lately?
Do you have a favorite game soundtrack?
I love Canadian rock (although my knowledge of it ends somewhere around 1990 - and I was born in 1992, at that. Make of it what you will)

I've been digging: Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Not Fragile (favourite track: "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"), April Wine's Harder….Faster ("Tonite"), Max Webster's High Class in Borrowed Shoes (I'm tied between "Words to Words" or "In Context of the Moon"), Loverboy's Get Lucky ("Take Me To The Top"), The Guess Who's Share the Land ("Hang On To Your Life"), and some greatest hits compilations from Spoons (tied between "Nova Heart" and "Tell No Lies"), Streetheart ("Action"), and Glass Tiger ("I'm Still Searching").

Game soundtracks? That's a hard choice, but I'd probably have to go with Portal 2.

Half-Life's soundtrack, composed by Kelly Bailey, is a classic. Joel Nielson's soundtrack for Black Mesa Source, a fanmade remake of the first Half-Life, is also great. The music in the Pokemon games is always pretty solid. And I have a soft spot for some of the tracks from the Sims 2, particularly "Bare Bones" (which was composed by one of the guys from Devo, strangely enough).

But Portal 2's soundtrack, composed by Mike Morasky, is a work of absolute genius. "Bots Build Bots," for instance, starts off with just a harp playing a simple tune. But then it recycles itself a few times, continually increasing in strength and complexity and gaining a more synthetic tone, all while retaining the same melody. It gives an amazing feeling of Aperture Science itself, the machines awaking from their long slumber to maintain this impossibly colossal underground facility.

Liberty: So, what do you think's next in store for the Archives?
Any last words you want to add?
Aimee: We're basically just going to take it slow and try not to overdo it too much. But it's great to be back.

Meet the Archivists: User Questions

MaryJanes2ndLastDance asks: How did you find all the articles in the first place?

Liberty: Aimee will be able to explain this better. I think Google used to have a news-search platform, and we buy or borrow magazines sometimes.

Aimee: Newspaper articles were mostly just searching for newspaper archives that were available on the web, then searching various iterations of "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers."  Magazines are a combination of finding them online, buying them off eBay (when I did that, cross-border shipping costs often came to 2-3 times the amount of the magazine - go figure), and website users sending them in.


MaryJanes2ndLastDance asks: Do people in your lives know about your TPATH involvement?

Liberty: There aren't a lot of people in my life, but yes, they know I'm a huge Tom Petty fan. I don't think they really understand what The Petty Archives is, though.

Aimee: My mother knows I like them. My cats know I like them. My doctor knows I was sad after Tom's death. I don't really have anyone else.


MaryJanes2ndLastDance asks: Have you ever met any of the band? Whom? Did you get to speak at length with them or briefly?

Liberty: I've never met any of the band. I just have Benmont's autograph because I was one of the first 50 people to buy his solo album.

Aimee: I've had email conversations with Danny Roberts (former member of Mudcrutch) in the past, but none of the Heartbreakers.


MaryJanes2ndLastDance asks: Is there some article out there you would like to get but haven't found yet?

Liberty: Aimee will know this. We just got a lot of new articles from a fan and I'm really excited to see what they say. But there isn't a particular publication I'm dying to get my hands on or anything like that.

Aimee: There's a few. We just actually received a huge treasure trove of magazine scans from a lovely fan that included a bunch I'd been searching for.

My white whale is an interview, though, where Tom says that you wouldn't want any of the Heartbreakers dating your younger sister. I've seen the clipping in the companion book for Runnin' Down a Dream but have had no luck finding a source for it.


MaryJanes2ndLastDance asks: Has anyone from the their team seen the site that you know of?

Liberty: Apparently Aimee had someone [Susan] who met Tom give him the link to the site back when it was the original site. We don't know if he followed up. We're going to hopefully interview her for our website soon about meeting Tom.

Aimee: Not that I know of. But I like to think they have. If anyone from the team sees this, hi.


Big Blue Sky asks: How did the idea start for creating a shared archive? It's such a generous idea!

Liberty: I love the idea; Aimee was so smart to come up with it. A Petty fan told me yesterday, “It brings tears to my eyes that so much has been saved.” It made my day. That’s why we do it -- there’s so much content and history that would be lost otherwise. Compiling it to a searchable database means it’s not a “buried treasure” anymore, but something we can all share and enjoy.
Aimee: It seemed like a waste to keep all this stuff to myself. Posting it on a website was the best way to share it.


Big Blue Sky asks: What resources do you need to keep it running - money, time, effort?

Liberty: We mostly need money for our hosting fees. We have a donation page which allows anyone to donate directly to DreamHost. The money doesn’t pass through us and it directly pays for our hosting fees. It’s streamlined and simple. Otherwise, the time and effort that goes into the site doesn’t really feel like work because I love it.

Aimee: The site costs $115 a year to host. Liberty handles the finances of that. As for me, I mostly just put time into the site. When relaunching the site, I'd work on it for 12 hours straight at times. Then I'd sleep for 12 hours. Hope I don't have to do that again. (The only reason the site took as long as it did to launch is because my internet was out for a week.)

Like Liberty says though, it's not really so much work because I enjoy it.

If there's anything else you'd like to ask or if you'd just like to say "hi", you can Contact Us or view our About Us page.  

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