Top ten best deep cuts by Tom Petty

Not all of Petty's great songs were singles.

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Tom Petty appeared on the rock and roll scene in the mid-‘70s with his five-piece band The Heartbreakers. He had some modest success in the UK early on but was on the verge of bankruptcy before his third album, Damn the Torpedoes (1979) launched him in the States.

Early critical appraisal liked to point out how he married the classic UK blues rock of the Stones with a poppier, folkier American sound more along the lines of The Byrds. However you define it, it worked. Petty released 13 studio albums with The Heartbreakers, and three more as a solo act. He also put out several albums with his long-time side project Mudcrutch, and two with supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. And there were plenty of live recordings and compilation albums as well. All in all, the man created a lot of music.

I don’t deny the Stones/Byrds marriage scenario. But I like to look at Petty, especially with the Heartbreakers, as the inventor of Southern Rock. I’m distinguishing this from Country Rock. Some Petty tracks veer in that direction, but there was a profound difference between Petty and bands like Molly Hatchett or Lynyrd Skynyrd, contemporaries who had success in the 1970s but did not have sustained runs.

Tom Petty has a deep catalog with non-singles that should not be ignored

Petty is Florida, and Florida may share some space with the ‘South,” but it really is not the “South.” Florida is its own thing, and so is Tom Petty. I’m calling it Southern Rock here, but that only scratches the surface, as we are about to see.

Whether with the Heartbreakers or as a solo act, Tom Petty released more than fifty singles, and many of them became rock & roll standards over the last quarter of the twentieth century.

But beyond those very popular singles, Petty has a deep and varied back catalog. I’m going to rank his ten greatest songs that were not released as singles. Actually, you’re getting a bonus track here. I’m going to rank eleven songs. But that’s only due to a strange little loophole. One of Petty’s most beloved songs was not initially released as a single, and to the best of my knowledge, its classic original recording has never been released, though another version of it has been. So I’m throwing in one extra song.

Here then are Tom Petty’s eleven greatest non-singles, counting down from eleven to one.