Top ten best deep cuts by Tom Petty

Not all of Petty's great songs were singles.
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Full Moon Fever was Petty first entirely solo album, and it stands as one of his singular achievements. It combines elements of the Heartbreakers (primarily in his right-hand man, guitarist Mike Campbell) with elements of the Wilburys. It had at least five significant hits, including his epic “Free Fallin’” along with “I Won’t Back Down,” and “A Face in the Crowd,” both products of his collaboration with fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne.

For me, the absolute standouts are “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and “Yer So Bad,” but “A Mind With a Heart of Its Own,” is right there with them. It’s tucked into the back half of the album, the second-to-last track, a banger of a romance with witty lyrics and a great jangle sound.

Over the years, Petty dabbled with different producers and collaborators. Though he never moved too far from his origins in southern blues rock, the experiments continually refreshed his sound. On Full Moon Fever, he got production help from the past – in the person of Mike Campbell – and from the present – in the person of Jeff Lynne. And it resulted in a sound that was both old and new.

No. 6 - “A THING ABOUT YOU” (1981)

Musically, this infatuation song from Hard Promises follows up on “What Are You Doing in My Life,” and a lot of other early Petty. In many ways, I think this defines the early Petty sound as well as any song he ever did. But it didn’t come as easy as it sounds.

Hard Promises arrived right after Petty’s huge breakthrough, Damn the Torpedoes, and he engaged in epic and well-publicized fights with his label on how to release and price the album. Might that be why there is an edge of anger in what is, on the surface, a simple rocker about love? Many of Petty’s best songs have such a dichotomy – sadness amidst hope, or vice versa.

In a way, it serves as a counterpoint to Hard Promises’ most famous song, “The Waiting.” Whereas that track laments a love just out of reach, “I Got a Thing About You” seems to caution that even when it’s right there in front of you, there’s something dangerous lurking – “Somewhere deep in the middle of the night – Lovers hold each other tight – Whisper in their anxious ears – Words of love that disappear.”