In 1993, Tom Petty released his Greatest Hits album featuring 16 of his most well known tunes and 2 new ones – a cover of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” and the (rightfully) presumptive hit “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. The album went on to sell over fifteen million copies and become the definitive Tom Petty recording.
The upsides to such a smash success are obvious – more money than you can count, your music is everywhere, parents have a concise collection to pass to their kids and thus your legacy lives forever, your concerts are one big singalong, etc.; but there are a few less obvious downsides that go along with the teritory (although I doubt they bother Mr. Petty all that much).
The Greatest Hits compilation ultimately went on to define Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for the millions of people who have purchased this disc, and the rest of his (really great) body of work has fallen by the wayside as far as the masses are concerned. Most of the criticisms about Petty evolve from “nothing but simple pop songs”, which is actually more of a criticism of the Greatest hits than his work at large. The Heartbreakers are one of the best and most consistent American bands in the history of Rock and Roll and the fact is they have much more to offer than “just the hits”. While I am not going to sit here and argue with the merits of one of the most beloved compilations of all time, I will provide a collection with 18 tracks of my own – none of which are on the Greatest Hits. Here is my “Tom Petty – Not Greatest Hits” collection.