The genre Tom Petty considered boring

Tom Petty

The purpose of rock and roll was not to play the same chords all the time. Even the enormous digressions that bands like The Beatles gave us weren’t quite enough to satisfy everyone, but there were undoubtedly artists that needed to push things further. Tom Petty was never thrilled with what he saw, but once metal started, fans finally had the answer to their prayers. There had to be a more dangerous outfit.

Yet metal isn’t all that dissimilar from the heyday of rock & roll when you stop to think about it. The actual sound palette may be a little off. However, all of the bands, from Deep Purple to Black Sabbath, were emulating the same traditional blues themes. These themes were popular in the era of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

But metal saw a very clear shift once Petty began to make some noise out of the heartland. The glam scene faded in the 1970s. It was absorbed into the next wave of American heavy metal. This wave included bands like Quiet Riot and Poison. They tried to carry on the legacy of David Bowie and Sweet.

While a band like Van Halen might have at least some experience, things started to get ridiculous the minute the third wave of bands entered the scene. The guitarists were undoubtedly talented, but was it worth enduring a misogynistic song with a half-baked AC/DC ripoff riff? The halfway-decent solo that soared across the fretboard might not justify it.

Petty expressed his distaste for the type of music he had grown up listening to. He told Guitar Heroes, “I love the power of the music, but I don’t think most heavy metal bands do much with it.” Songs like “I’m going to get you and you’re going to love it!” are usually so cheesy and macho. I don’t pay much attention to most of the new heavy metal bands because I think they all sound the same.

However, that ultimately boils down to Petty’s perspective on his trade. When he sat down to write a song, he didn’t care what kind of music was around him. He just wanted to please himself. Whether that meant referencing The Stones or The Byrds or just trying to write something he would be proud of in thirty years.

That may have been the traditional approach to songwriting, but it’s difficult to conclude that it wasn’t successful. Even though Spotify playlists from the 1980s feature the best of the best from many of the biggest metal acts of the era. Albums like Full Moon Fever and Southern Accents remain incredible examples of their time. They feature songs that didn’t need to rely on Mike Campbell doing his best Eddie Van Halen impression over it.

While Petty’s relationship with bands like The Stones and Led Zeppelin served as a springboard for many 1980s metal bands. It took more than just a memorable riff to draw in listeners. Even though Petty’s greatest hits were short songs, you could still see an image every time you listened to one of his tracks. They were all about telling a story within the song.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like