One year ago today, Tom Petty tragically died of an accidental overdose. Today, two very different artists are paying their respects by releasing covers of Petty’s work. Los Angeles singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers chose “It’ll All Work Out,” which she covered live last year at a show in Brooklyn. The song is a bonus track on the deluxe digital release of her 2017 debut album Stranger In the Alps, released today. Along with the Petty cover, the album also includes a demo of her hit song “Motion Sickness.”
Bridgers is releasing an EP with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus under the name Boygenius on Nov. 9 via Matador. They’ll be in Seattle on Saturday, Nov. 24 to play The Moore Theatre.
From the other side of the country, Brooklyn’s The Pains of Being Pure At Heart have announced that they’ll be taking the Petty love a step further with the release of a full album of covers, taking on Petty’s classic 1989 record Full Moon Fever in its entirety.
The album will be released via Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious series, which specializes in artists covering their favorite albums. Previously, they've featured Ben Gibbard taking on Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque, Frankie Rose covering The Cure’s sophomore album Seventeen Seconds, Yumi Zouma playing the songs of Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, and many more. TPOBPAH’s take on Full Moon Fever hit single “Runnin’ Down a Dream” has been shared. Frontman Kip Berman has released a lengthy statement regarding the band’s choice of Full Moon Fever:
I grew up loving Tom Petty — thanks to my step dad who played him nearly constantly and scoffed at the “grunge” era of bands that didn’t share Petty’s classicist reverence for the history of rock music. I’ve long identified with Petty’s celebration of songwriting and his general disregard for most everything else. Yet, he was often seen as a second fiddle to Dylan, Neil Young, Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, The Byrds, George Harrison, and more. But as far as I can tell, all these people (not sure about Springsteen) actually revered Petty — and genuinely liked his company. His greatness was that he didn’t seem to be too bothered if people thought he was great or not. What mattered to him was being part of a lineage of timeless rock songwriting.
Is it cheesy to say “Tom Petty was all about the music, man?” Maybe. But he wrote so many iconic songs — and is remembered for little else — that it seems apt. There are no lurid Tom Petty scandals, car crashes, stints in jail, public meltdowns or things he had to walk back and make us cringe today (well, maybe “Zombie Zoo”). His legacy is just DECADES of iconic songs. He was an unconventional conventional rock star — his charisma subtle, his voice nasal but effective, and his appearance was — at best — a bit avian. He was probably the least technically gifted performer to ever headline the Super Bowl Halftime show. He wasn’t a dancer, guitar virtuoso, crooner or sex symbol — he just got there by wring a lot of great songs that everyone loved.
Tom Petty’s first solo album, Full Moon Fever (which featured almost all of his actual band members, cameos from Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Del Shannon, and was produced by ELO’s Jeff Lynne), coincided with an era that was especially inspiring to my own music in The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Released in 1989, it was weirdly aligned with a lot of the ideas that attracted me to bands like The Pastels, Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M., The Replacements, or Jesus and Mary Chain — jangling guitars, sweet harmonies, classic songwriting (verse, chorus, verse chorus, bridge, chorus chorus) and lyrics that captured a very specific point of view. But unlike those bands, Petty was an arena act, at home and enabled by large record labels and big budget videos, and (by this era at least) had about zero reputation as “cool.” So I thought it would be a great tribute to one of my heroes to re-imagine his music in the context of my own — to wonder what it would be like if the songs he wrote sounded a bit more like the artists that were working in the underground at the time he was making this iconic record.
Full Moon Fever is out October 26. Listen to Bridgers’ cover “It’ll All Work Out” and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s take on “Runnin’ Down a Dream” below. Also, watch the latter’s KEXP in-studio performance from 2014 and Bridgers’ performance from this summer.
Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers have teamed up to form a new supergroup called boygenius and shared three songs off their debut EP
In the weeks since Tom Petty's sudden death, dozens of musicians have honored the rocker by covering his songs. The breadth and depth of these tributes is awe-inspiring: Sure, artists have gravitated toward the hits -- "American Girl," "Don’t Come Around Here No More," "Mary Jane's Last Dance" an...
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the M...