220px-TomPettyDebutCover#20 – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “Breakdown” – (1976)

“Breakdown” was Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ first single. Ever. It came from their self-titled debut album that was released near the end of 1976. It just barely became a top 40 hit in the U.S. and Canada –  good enough that radio stations continued to give Petty airtime for many years to come.

#5 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Refugee” – (1979)

Gotta love Tom Petty. He’s been putting out good music for going on 40 years and he seems to still love doing it. This is among my very favorite hits from The Heartbreakers. Listen to his voice at the chorus: “You don’t haaave to live like a refugee” – except that he’s barely forming words and the lyrics sort of drip quickly out of his mouth. It might be the finest example of Tom Petty’s unique voice. It reached #15 on the Hot 100 and is the best song on Damn the Torpedoes.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Into the Great Wide Open” – (1991)

Well crap. I was going to do “You Wreck Me” here but I’ve already done that song. This one doesn’t sound quite as 80s as that one, but it’ll work. The music video features Johnny Depp and Matt LeBlanc, among others – and Tom Petty, still in his “Dressing-Like-A-Character-From-Alice in Wonderland” phase. This is the title track to the Heartbreakers’ 1991 album and it hit #4 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Jefferson Jericho Blues” – (2010)

Mojo was the first studio album by Tom Petty with The Heartbreakers since 2002. It is also the first album since 1981 to feature the band’s original bassist on every track. The album isn’t along the lines of previous Petty albums, as it is primarily blues-based. This is the first track on the album and it’s a good one. People may say Petty peaked in the 80s or 90s – but songs like this show he is a true rocker, capable of producing solid rock tracks – good music – and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Learning to Fly” – (1991)

When learning to fly, coming down really is the hardest thing. Most people like to stay up flying around – that, and landing is the most difficult part. This was a #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart (where it stayed for six weeks) and a Top 30 on the Hot 100. This is one of Petty’s best songs and it doesn’t necessarily sound like all his other songs – the vocals do, of course. But the music is up-tempo and a little different. It’s good.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “The Waiting” – (1981)

A couple of months ago we had a Tom Petty week where we featured songs from solo Tom Petty. I apologized to The Heartbreakers and promised to make it up to them. So here we are: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers week. We start with “The Waiting” which is my favorite song from the band from the 1980s. It was a Top 20 hit in the U.S., and the biggest single from the 1981 album Hard Promises. “The waaiiiting is the hardest part.”

#33 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – (1993)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ 1993 Greatest Hits album would be a great album to own considering all of the hits that were contained on it (including Petty’s solo stuff from Full Moon Fever). But then add one of the greatest songs Tom Petty ever did as a brand new track. It has a blues-rock feeling but throw in the reminiscing and nostalgia that the lyrics contain and you get a mid-western, almost Mellencamp-y, feel. Some people like this because they say “Mary Jane”… and I’m sure these same people giggle and snicker because they think they are being sneaky talking about drugs. Well, whatever it’s about, it has a great vibe – although the music video, where Tom Petty (morgue assistant) brings home a dead body (Kim Basinger) and keeps her around the house Weekend at Bernie’s-style.