Thursday, June 12, 2008

Great Dilemmas of Our Age

Hey, kids! It's been ages since I've been around, I know, but when a semester ends with a conference and a week outta town hot on its heels, these things happen.

But I have an ethical generic dilemma to posit to my wise readers.

Is Tom Petty power pop?

I got in a discussion the other night with a new friend who objected strongly to this classification. I would argue, I think, that historically that's the wave in which he came to prominence, but that he transcended that category, or at least outlived it.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit B. (Embedding disabled by request. Feh.)

I admit, I'm puzzled. Discuss.


steve simels said...

An emphatic yes.

How anybody can hear the opening twelve-string riff on "The Waiting" and think anything else is beyond me.

Obviously, not every thing the guy ever did qualifies, but the vast majority for sure...

Anonymous said...

What the Simels guy said!


Anonymous said...

Welcome Back, NYMary! We missed you.

And I'd say that Petty is Power Pop. I was gonna comment on the guitar riffs, but I see someone beat me to it.

Ali said...

Absolutely. What's the reasoning? His voice doesn't sound like Dave Edmunds' voice?

100% pop, imo.

TMink said...

So say we all.

Not everything he did was power pop, but he does it when he chooses to, thankfully that is quite often, and he does it well!

OK, he has a bluesy delivery, but the music is guitar driven pop more often than not, and that is good for us.


Anonymous said...

That was me at 1:20 Mary.

Vicki, Who ♥ Al Gore.

Blogger isn't accepting my name, I guess.

NYMary said...

There's definitely a Southern influence (he's a Gainesville, Florida boy, IIRC), but the line comes straight down from The Beatles, which is pretty much the definition of power pop for me.

Mike said...

Without a doubt. If Listen To Her Heart isn't PP, then I'll eat my hat. (I don't wear a hat, btw.)

Kid Charlemagne said...

What's the deal with the Mudcrutch disc I saw at the store the other day?

Also, TP was billed as "new wave" when he first appeared (because music was so shitty at the time, that anything that was stripped-down R&R was lumped into that category).

There was an interesting bit in the Gene Clark bio about McGuinn resisting covering his songs as he saw him as just a mimic. Apparently, "American Girl" was written with Roger in mind.

steve simels said...

TP was actually billed as punk, solely because he was wearing a leather jacket on the cover of the first album. I'm not kidding....

Also, the Mudcrutch album is fricking great. Go to you tube and check out the band documentary or the video of "Lover of the Bayou."

When's the next bus to Oswego? said...

tom petty and the heartbreakers are actually in the trouser press guide to new wave records (at least the early editions). as i guess steve was well aware.

now that was a silly classification. (maybe someone got them confused with johnny thunders and the heartbreakers?) but petty is a power popper's power popper. proof positive (let's keep this alliteration alive!):

a few years back i saw john wicks of the records play a small club, and his band did 'starry eyes.'


When's the next bus to Oswego? said...

oops- meant to say 'american girl,' not 'starry eyes.'

(tho of course they did that one, too!)

Kid Charlemagne said...


Here's the first place I'd ever heard of TP.

One of my buddies had this disc.

steve simels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve simels said...

My skinny tie band did killer versions of "Listen to Heart", "I Need to Know" and "American Girl."

God, I love that song. Especially right before the solo/fadeout, when he goes "whoa-oh-oh-oh" or however you write that.

steve simels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yes, I am old enough to remember when TP was considered vaguely "punkish." (As were Cheap Trick, for that matter..)
And I second Simels on Mudcrutch - best goddamned rock record I've heard all year.
- bill buckner

MBowen said...

Another ditto on the TP="punk/new wave".

And, yeah, the first couple of records have several examples of pure power pop, but on the whole, I'd say that's not his real pigeonhole. Most of the Petty oeuvre isn't - it's more like Springsteen+South-Dylan.

It also pains me to admit it, being the TP fan that I was back in the day, but it turns out that the guy just isn't that interesting; it would be hard to name someone else who's had such a long career with so little to say.

Anonymous said...

Yes TP&TH's are powerpop but they transend powerpop by exploring roots music way beyond any roots exploration required for powerpop.


Anonymous said...

If this doesn't settle the discussion nothing will.

Decent band too.


Anonymous said...

Oooopppssss! 9:24 was me.



TMink said...

If I remember correctly, things are a little blurry from this period to be honest, any music that did not suck in the late 70s was called punk or new wave. Well, except for the Boss.


NYMary said...

any music that did not suck in the late 70s was called punk or new wave

Ha! That's probably true.

Though my interlocutor would probably argue for classifying Petty with Springsteen. IIRC, the conversation went something like, "He's not power pop! He's rock and roll."

Of course, there was Jameson's involved, so I could be misremembering.