8 large Tom Petty blankets

Over the years, dozens of artists have paid homage to Petty with their own renditions of his and The Heartbreakers classics. Following Petty’s untimely death at the age of 66 in 2017, after completing the Heartbreakers 40th anniversary tour, other artists came to pay their respects to the legendary singer/songwriter in concert, adding to the collection already growing number of Petty covers released over the years. .

Petty’s authentic songwriting, whether with The Heartbreakers, the Traveling Wilburys or his own solo material, made him a favorite among contemporaries like Bob Dylan and George Harrison, and an easy feat for artists to reinvent the one of his songs.

Here are eight Tom Petty songs covered – recorded and performed live – over the past 40+ years, each capturing the soul of each track.

1. “Breakdown”, Grace Jones (1980)

Off Jones album from 1980 Warm leatherette, his cover of the Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers classic, basing on reggae rhythms, is as eccentric as the Jamaican artist. Petty even wrote a third verse of the song especially for Jones to record:

It’s OK if you have to go
I will understand if you don’t understand
You say goodbye now
I’ll still survive somehow
Why should we let this drag on?

2. “Southern Accents”, Johnny Cash (1996)

Supported by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on a cover of their own song, Johnny Cash dropped a soulful version of the more country title track from Petty’s sixth album. Southern Accents. Although some country artists – Jamey Johnson, The Steel Woods – have covered the songs over the years, this is Cash’s version, from his mostly covers album, unleashedit’s the most memorable, crackling nostalgic There’s a southern accent, where I’m from / The kids call it country / The Yankees call it stupid / I got my own way of talking / But it’s all done, with a southern accent / D’ where I come from.

3. “Freefall” Stevie Nicks (1996)

Stevie Nicks recorded his own version of Petty’s 1989 hit for the TV show party of five in 1996. Featuring Heartbreakers guitarist and Petty co-writer Mike Campbell, the song marks one of many collaborations between Nicks and Petty and The Heartbreakers. In 1981 Petty co-wrote (with Campbell) and was featured on Nicks’ solo hit “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, and the duo would work again on Petty’s “Insider” and “I Will Run To You ” from Nicks. Nicks last performed with Petty at his Hyde showground in London just three months before his death.

4. “Learning to Fly” (LIVE), Bob Dylan (2017)

On October 21, 2017, just over two weeks after Petty’s death and a day after what would have been his 67th birthday, his former Traveling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan performed a cover of his 1991 hit “Learning to Fly” at a concert in Denver. concert. Besides the Traveling Wilburys, Petty and Dylan also worked together on Dylan’s True Confessions Tour in 1986, which led to the concert film Hard to Handle. “This is shocking and heartbreaking news,” Dylan said after his friend Petty’s death. “I thought of Tom’s world. He was a great performer, full of light, a friend, and I will never forget him.

5. “Free Fallin’ (Live)”, Coldplay with Peter Buck (2017)

On the day Petty died, Coldplay was playing a gig at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, and enlisted former REM guitarist Peter Buck to help pay their respects. The band opened the show with a rendition of Petty’s 1989 full moon fever click “Free Fallin'”.

6. “You Got Lucky”, Blackberry Smoke, with Amanda Shires (2018)

Blackberry Smoke stripped the more synth-driven Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers song their acoustic take on the Long after dark the track is reimagined, featuring Amanda Shires on violin. The Atlanta rockers’ version was part of their six-song EP The Southern Ground Sessions.

seven. “The Wait”, The Killers (2020)

When Tom Petty passed away in 2017, The Killers honored him by performing “American Girl” live and also slipped “Free Fallin'” into their set list over the years. In 2020, Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (on acoustic guitar) delivered a tender rendition of Petty and The Heartbreakers’ 1981 Hard promises classic “Waiting”.

8. “Breakdown”, Spoon (2021)

Tracked live at the Catacomb in Austin, Texas on October 15, 2020, Spoon recorded two Petty classics: “A Face in the Crowd” and “Breakdown.” In 2021, Spoon singer Britt Daniel was also a guest DJ on the SiriusXM channel Tom Petty Radio, playing some of his favorite Petty tunes. Spoon’s cover of “Breakdown” was released as part of a virtual Tom Petty birthday concert in 2020.

Photo: Martin Atkins/Sacks & Co.

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