MHB’s Tom Petty Questionnaire

The next entry into MHB’s exploratory band-themed blogs is here! And Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers are up.

tom-petty-the-heartbreakers-performing-rickenbacker-Welcome to the Tom Petty Questionnaire-

I was bouncing ideas off my oft-times blog idea collaborator, one Mr. Nate Gold Fish, about a Tom Petty blog I wanted to put together where he and a bunch of my close friends could all get in on the action. I just kinda told him about my frustration in not being able to find a good enough vehicle to make the blog post go. He shook his head, smirked, shook his head again, and laughed (in that order).

Soooo… after pressing Fish for a mere 3 minutes for some blog ideas, he came up with the questionnaire manifesto. I loved it! Over the next few days I came up with 8 questions to distribute for each of the contributors. Some serious. Some… not so much. 🙂 And remember: it’s all fun and games until someone doesn’t put another Petty album on after the one playing finishes.

Now, to introduce the contributors…

(From left to right) Mr. Riggleman aka Rigg, Mr. Keuleyan aka SB, Mr. Fischer aka… well, he has too many alias’ so I’ll just go with Fish, and me – MH.

These crazies and I have a long and storied history. Definitely too long and too storied to fit into any one blog. But what I can do, right here, right now, is verify during these storied stories, many-a-Petty song have been played. And replayed. Talked about… and then played again. That is just how we rolled. All of us as a group love Petty. It’s easy to say that Tom Petty’s music has kinda morphed into our soundtrack, but I honestly think it represents something more than that to us. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it or pinpoint it… Other than that TP & the Heartbreakers are permanent fixtures for us.

Fish—-> This was “Hard on Me”, hard like that cement wall that dominated my toes recently and taught me how to “Hurt.” (That’s two!) But yes…hard. For two reasons: One, there’s a lot of songs to sift through, and that takes time. I could easily spend a year deciding, picking the perfect answers. But…I don’t have a year. Second, once I got going, I just wanted to write more and more, as if “This One’s for Me.” (Three! And so on…) …but I’m not writing this one for me, which would be boring for you, to the point you cry “No More!” (Which is right after “This One’s for Me” on Echo—Yes, I’m that good.) But that’s why I wrote a little addendum blog on the Fishwall to get out the thoughts. And Little Johnny… And also little Johnny’s thoughts… But mostly Little Johnny.

Now that Mr. Fish had his little prelude… let’s get on with it! As TP would say:
“It’s time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing.”

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook1) What Tom Petty song title do you feel best represents and/or describes you?

Rigg:A Mind with a Heart of Its Own.” Mainly because I think the lyrics are all over the place – and I think I’m all over the place a lot. I also think that the whole dichotomy of the Mind & Heart is something I kind of struggle with a lot – and my mind typically displaces my heart. For better or worse. I’d love to raise some baby hurricanes.
SB:Walls.” ‘Cause I’ve got a big heart <3. That or “Hung Up and Overdue.” Haha, a little inside joke there.
Fish: Ah, the toughest question first. Because I go through life with a constant TP soundtrack, and every TP song I listen to I relate to. However, as they are usually about love and I’m currently loveless, I’m not going to pick most of them. But those times when I’m not loveless, I always have to sing those songs. Case in point, this girl I was recently seeing said this to me, because of my constant commenting on how TP songs reminded me of us: “…we are basically a Tom Petty song? <3” To which I pretty much said yes. But as I said, I’m currently loveless, which leads me to believe I should be picking a song that always applies. My first instinct is to go with my favorite, “Yer So Bad,” but that doesn’t really describe me…also, it’s basically a love song. My second instinct is to go with a lesser known song, “Between Two Worlds,” ‘cause I’m one horny fella, and although I know a woman’s body is only flesh and bone, I can’t let go… However, before I get so long winded that you cry “Let me up, I’ve had enough,” I’m forcing a decision, and that decision is “The Waiting.” Yes, it’s still kind of a love song, but frankly, my whole life is one big wait for the right one. And, for that matter, for just about everything else.
M.Horn:Learning To Fly.” I actually meant for the song title to speak for itself when I wrote the question. You know… to have the reader make of the song title choice as they may. But when all the contributors sent me their answers, they all had reasons for why they chose their song. Kinda negates the mystique around the selection in my eyes. But I shall shed a few words that support my choice now as well. And I should note – this is the only answer I’m writing post-receiving answers from everyone else…

Realizing that happiness is upon me and my family, embracing it, and flying with it. Also, fulfilling the excitement I have in reaching for new heights with them.

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook2) You’re driving a car load of friends to a T. P. & the Heartbreakers concert two hours away.
What Petty album do you put on first for the road trip & why?

RiggI’d go with Wildflowers. I just think it gets you amped more than most. It has a bunch of slow ballads like “Good to Be King,” but mixed with hard stuff like “Honeybee.” “You Don’t Know How it Feels” is easy to listen to also. The song “Wildflowers” – also a winner.  And who could forget “You Wreck Me.”
SB: Full Moon Fever… Oh man… “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” I remember this song from road trips down to NC and it just feels right to start the mood off right. I put the pedal down, to make some time.
Fish: I admit I’m tempted to go Greatest Hits, just to get into the spirit of things with “The Best of Everything”. But assuming these friends are all big fans who thoroughly know the material, and knowing we’ll hear many of those jams at the show, and precluding my overwhelming desire to make my own hits list for the entire ride…I have to go with…and then get stuck between Full Moon Fever and Damn the Torpedoes. Either would get us into the spirit. Therefore, I’m saying neither and going with Long After Dark because it’s my favorite album, and it’s got a lot of rockin’ songs. Then, I’d follow it with those other two; it’s what the people would want.
M.Horn: Wildflowers. “You Wreck Me” has long been one of my favorite Petty songs. But that’s not entirely why I’d choose this album. Wildflowers has an awesome blend of soft soothing and quick up-tempo sounds. The song “Wildflowers,” “Don’t Fade On Me,” “House In The Woods,” & “Crawling Back To You”… so calming and free flowing. An interesting backdrop when pitted against driving songs like “You Wreck Me,” “Honey Bee,” & “Cabin Down Below.” I didn’t know it until much later in my Petty fandom, but legendary producer Rick Rubin produced Wildflowers. It’s amazing what two brilliant music minds can do when synced. And to think I only mentioned 7 songs so far – not including jams like “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “Time To Move On,” and “Good To Be King.” Definitely my choice to get this road trip kicked off on the right foot.

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook3) You and your significant other arrive at a Black & White event, the pit orchestra momentarily stops playing, and starts playing a Tom Petty song as you make your grand entrance. What’s your song & why?

Rigg: I’d say “Wildflowers” (didn’t realize how much Wildflowers would show up here) – it really applies to Sam because she really IS hardcore into flowers and Nature – but it’s also kind of symbolic of just being free of encumbrance with no worries.
SB: Without vocals, I’m liking “Dreamville” for a classy orchestra to play. We enter and come down a long staircase with this playing? That’s a thing of beauty. Like something out of a movie. A little brass crescendo in there. Yeah. Plus I needed to get something from The Last DJ on this list.
Fish: This one wasn’t easy, until it I realized it was. There’s one song that instantly pumps me up…and no, I’m not going with “American Girl.” Because I’m not an American girl. The song I’m talking about is “You Wreck Me.” From the very first notes, it’s got this incredible energy, and the simplicity of the riff would play well as an entrance song. It also works both on me and for me. By which I mean to say I get wrecked by girls all the time. And I also wreck them. Like last Halloween…
M.Horn: This one was easy for me. Gotta be “Refugee.” Something recognizable, with or without lyrics, that would easily announce our presence. This song is among my very favorite Tom Petty songs.

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook4) Sitting around a campfire with a small gathering of friends and you’re tapped first to sing (or play) a Tom Petty jam. What’s your song & why?

Rigg: I’d say “I’m in Love with A Girl on LSD.” Mainly because it’s simple and goofy for that scenario.
SB:You Don’t Know How It Feels.” Start it off with that harmonica, and I’m wearing that hat. It’s a song I think we all know and it lends itself to being passed off. We just naturally take turns taking a line and join together for the chorus. I love the video and I see the circle as something of a reference to that. It’s a little slow I guess, but I like it. Need MH to hit the guitar solo.
Fish: Well, well, well. You (Mr. Horn) knew I had to put this jam in here somewhere, and what better spot than around the campfire, where I can really hit it home to those select few good buddies and (hopefully) single ladies… This jam would be none other than “Yer So Bad.” It’s my favorite TP song (although “Deliver Me” is kinda edging it out lately, but let’s not make it official yet…), annnnd I could potentially play this one solo on a guitar and sound decent. With practice. Still lots of practice. Especially if I’m singing too. My point is…Yer so bad, and yer still the best I ever had…is what those ladies would be telling Johnny after. *Swish*
M.Horn: I’d want to play “Free Fallin’.” It’s literally the standard when it comes to 3 chord Petty songs. Anyone with a pulse has heard it and would be able to join in and sing along. I actually might test this out the next time I’m at a campfire. C’mon… “She’s a good girl, loves her mama.”

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook5) Which Tom Petty song can come on the radio and instantly make you forget you’re on the highway sitting in stand-still traffic?

Rigg: For me, it actually has been “I Should Have Known It.” It’s a Petty rarity, in my opinion, because of how hard it is. Very “Honeybee”-esque. 
SB: Almost any of them really. TP changes my mood. It feels wholesome and makes me forget or accept the things that are bothering me. When I find myself drumming on the steering wheel and singing along to every word, I realize that I’ve forgotten I’m doing it to an audience of the kids and parents in the car next to me. If you need a title then put me down for one of my old favorites – “Zombie Zoo.”
Fish: Damnit, I already picked “You Wreck Me,” so let’s see. There’s actually a few that could easily fit this bill. Again, the obvious “American Girl” works every time. As would “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” which I mention because it’s not getting mentioned anywhere else on the list, and I wish it was. But the ultimate jam for when traffic is “Jammin’ Me?” That would be “Don’t Do Me Like That.” Because “Wham!”
M.Horn: For a jolt of energy (and to spur a temporary memory lapse to forget about said traffic) there are a handful I could choose. But since I only get to choose one for the questionnaire, I gotta go with “American Girl.” AG is one of 3 Petty songs that are tied at 1A as my favorite. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Refugee” are the other 2. Also, shouting the lyrics is good practice for when Nate Gold and my brother Brian come over to play “American Girl” during Fish with Horns rehearsals in my basement.

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook6) You’re singing lead in a Tom Petty mariachi band. Your band spots a married couple dining outside at the restaurant across the street. Turns out, they’re celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Naturally, you take the band over to them and sing them a Tom Petty song. What’s your song & why?

Rigg: Let’s just go with “Rhino Skin.” I’ve never been married – let alone for 10 years – and the concept of that overwhelms me. Being my semi-depressive self I’d naturally gravitate towards the negative side – aka – the challenges and difficulties of making it that far – and farther. Thus – “Rhino Skin.” The concept of singing “Rhino Skin” via Mariachi is cool too.
SB: I thought about going with “American Girl” or “Here Comes My Girl” for this, which if you’re going to insist that it’s a mariachi band and I have to go over there, then put me down for “Here Comes My Girl.” I feel like that’s something that people will recognize, it sounds romantic, and they might get up and dance. Actually nevermind. I wanted to change the scenario and go with “Room at the Top” but it’s at a fancier place or something on the river and the band is wearing tuxes. “Room at the Top” always hits me hard – a reminder that things are good and you can be happy in just being together. I’m listening to it now and “Here Comes My Girl” though is great for this though.
Fish: Well it was a toss up. I wanted to give them “Room at the Top” so bad. And indeed, I’ve sung that one to a lady or two in my time. It’s the perfect song for doing so. They love it. But for this particular occasion, I’m going with “Wildflowers” instead. It’s a little more mellow, and a little more sweet. As well as more suited to the quiet evening described. And although it’s got a certain “let your love go to fly free” theme going, you get the feeling that the other person isn’t actually going anywhere, because you’re the one they’re “Learning to Fly” with. And after ten years (assuming a healthy relationship—what can I say, I’m a romantic through and through), that’s exactly what they’ve figured out.
M.Horn: This is a mighty good question. Whoever came up with this one is quite brilliant! 🙂 My answer is 2-fold. The song’s got to be “You Got Lucky.” A) To have a Matt Horn fronted Tom Petty mariachi band show up on their 10th wedding anniversary??? This couple is obviously super lucky, basically just won the lottery. B) The obvious reason, it’s appropriate for the occasion! Which is that this couple got lucky in love. And good love is hard to find.

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook7) What Tom Petty song tugs on your heart strings the most?

Rigg: Totally cliché’ but I REALLY like “American Girl.” I just do. I really like the way it repeats the beat at the end and then goes out.
SB: “Time to Move On.” The cover by Hi Ho Silver Oh makes my face leak. It’s a song I always look to when starting a new chapter of my life and both that and the Petty versions hit hard, though the speed of the cover is especially heart wrenching.
Fish: Without a doubt, I prefer the fast songs. I’m not the happiest of people, so the slower songs tend to be redundant, and I’d rather be picked up by music. That said, when the moment is right, there are few slower TP jams that do tug those heart strings… “Have Love, Will Travel,” “Rhino Skin,” “Southern Accents,” to name a few. But the one that truly gets me every time is “Crawling Back to You.”
M.Horn: I guess each of us had the opportunity to pick a sappy song here if one felt the need to. I didn’t. All five of us used to listen to Damn The Torpedoes and Full Moon Fever like crazy while playing pool at Mongi’s (my grandmother) house. Good times. Those songs kinda embody that time for me, so I was always going to pick a song from one of those 2 albums for this answer. If I didn’t pick one from that lot, I probably woulda went with “Have Love Will Travel” off The Last DJ. Christina and I really like that song. Without further ado, I’m going with “Free Fallin.”

mr__tom_petty_by_sportakook8) What is your favorite Tom Petty lyric?

Rigg: “Think of me what you will I’ve got a little space to fill” – You Don’t Know How it Feels
SB: “I got a room, where everyone can have a drink, and forget those things that went wrong in their life.” – Room At The Top

That song feels like that room to me. It’s calming and I do feel like I can forget about life’s problems for 5 min and the rise up at 1:35 gets a little positive momentum going for once it’s over.

Fish: Ah, the final question. To which I feel the need to express that no one writes songs like TP. They’re not simple and easy, but they sound like it, which makes them great hits, and yet they’re often so powerful that they make the best hits. Case in point, one of the most powerful things I’ve heard is from “Have Love, Will Travel,” and it sends shivers down my spine every time: “How about a cheer for all those bad girls, and all the boys that play that rock and roll. They love it like you love Jesus. It does the same thing to their souls.” …Now, I’m not religious by nature, but knowing how unbelievably important it is to some, how it moves them, to say that anything else does that is about the highest praise you could give it. And music certainly qualifies. Nonetheless, that is not my favorite lyric, and I’ve made a hard promise to Mr. Horn that I’d answer these Q’s as honestly as Johnny-ly possible. But first! Allow me to give a potential runner-up, from the song “Finding Out”: “…I don’t think pain is so romantic.” Because it’s not. And yet we all seem to experience so much of it, often brought upon ourselves by ourselves… Yeah, I really feel that line…

Alright, alright, let me force a real answer out before you get too “Restless,” and to that end, I return to “The Waiting.” That whole song gets me. But singing this particular part to the girl of your dreams is the best feeling ever: “Well yeah I might have chased a couple women around. All it ever got me was down. Then there were those that made me feel good, but never as good as I’m feeling right now. Baby, you’re the only one that’s ever known how…to make me wanna live like I wanna live now!”

Yeah, when that last part comes true, it’ll be the final song on the album of my life. The first album, that is.
“Then there were those that made me feel good
But never as good as I feel right now
Baby you’re the only one that’s ever known how
To make me wanna live like I wanna live now” – The Waiting


I’d like to take the time to thank everyone here that helped out with this post. Good stuff! Definitely interesting to see some of the songs overlap, for one question or another. And again, I invite anyone who wants to chime in to do so in the comments.

I really thought that “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” would be a dominant force among the answers. It blew me away to see it not qualify for any of the answers. And I have to say before signing off, Fish and I choosing the same lyric for #8… pretty crazy! That was probably the answer I was most excited to share with everyone. I know that’s why I listed that question last.

If I had to choose a second favorite lyric… I go right back to the same song, specifically the first two lines, but the whole first verse could easily slide right in. Listen for yourself! I figure it’s the perfect sendoff for this epic T.P. inspired blog. Enjoy!

———-> And don’t forget to check out the Addendum to the TP Questionnaire by Johnny Fishman!!

3 replies to “MHB’s Tom Petty Questionnaire

  1. Allow Johnny to get el serioso for a min: The format worked. I liked it. But most of all I enjoyed gaining insight into three of my best friends’ minds. Some things weren’t surprising (like the prevalence of Wildflowers and Full Moon Fever, these being the predominant albums of our pool-playing high school years), but some things were…like “Dreamville” as SB’s entrance song. Of course, SB came out with all kinds of surprises, what with pulling songs off She’s the One…but I’ll get to that in a sec. Also, Riggs’s campfire song, “Girl on LSD,” not because of the song, but because of how perfect an answer it is. I kinda wanna change my own to it. Damnit. I think I forget to consider that song in the list, as it’s not on any full studio albums. But speaking of Riggs’s choices…”Rhino Skin” to sing to the couple? That definitely took me by surprise, but his reasons were one of those things that I found insightful…

    That same question also has the first unexpected similarity, given that none of us knew what each other had written, with SB and me both discussing “Room at the Top”, but not picking it (well he did eventually. Kinda. Sorta. [Oh yeah, check out that TP Postman reference!]). I feel compelled to mention, I also dug his choice of lyrics from the same song. That song just works.

    Of course the biggest most awesome similarity was this: out of every possible TP lyric, Horn and I choose the exact same lines in the final question. No idea that was coming. A little eerie, if I do say so. And I do. I always do…heh. That happenstance really brought the blog together though. Like Lebowski’s rug.

    Speaking of rugs…I have just one more thing to say, and I know it’s a question that’s been burning in Horn and mine’s minds…just what IS this inside “Hung Up and Overdue” joke, Mr. SB??? When you comment on here, I expect the story, Mr. Big… … …Heart.

    1. I thought the blog turned out really well. There was only one answer that caught my attention to the point where I’m not quite sure how I feel about it… which was Riggs’ answer & explanation for #6 – singing Rhino Skin to a couple celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.

      Granted, there aren’t any wrong answers to these questions.. Maybe I’m just caught up in the fact that Rigg (maybe isn’t capable?) of helping shine a light on 2 random people in a positive situation that is a cause for celebration? **I intended that question to be the most loose/fun question of the group** Instead, he chose to take it a complete different direction.

      And yes, it was only apparent to us four since none of the readers could possibly have known… But SB making reference to an inside joke that I’m pretty sure none of us actually know about. During a blog post where we’re stating about how often we all listened to TP together, talked about Petty songs, etc… The irony caught me funny.

      Also.. Mr. Fish, your efforts are applauded. You went above and beyond with your answers and addendum blog. Thanks dude!!

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