Wildflowers & All The Rest
October 17, 2020 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Wildflowers & All The Rest is a re-release of Tom Petty's most personal album with the original + 10 songs left off the original release. “I swear to God it’s an absolute ad-lib from the word ‘go,’” he told author Paul Zollo for his book Conversations With Tom Petty. In the next three minutes, Petty waxed poetic about love and freedom, heart and home while the reels on his recorder spun around in a steady rotation. When the song came to its seemingly natural conclusion he reached over his guitar and clicked the stop button. “Then [I] sat back and went, ‘Wow, what did I just do?’ And I listened to it. I didn’t change a word. Everything was just right there, off the top of my head.”

Variety: It’s no wonder that, 26 years on, “Wildflowers” seems like the last classic-rock record that a plurality of fans would consider a classic. As rock ’n’ roll — arguably a cult now — might say of its former self, as channeled through this set: It was good to be king.

NYT: One of the geeky joys of “Wildflowers & All the Rest” is observing Petty at the absolute peak of his songwriting powers, making small, intelligent tweaks to these songs in progress. Sometimes it’s a single world, a few letters. During the sessions, the guitarist and longtime collaborator Mike Campbell had brought Petty a driving riff around which he wrote a song he called “You Rock Me” — tentatively, because he knew that was an awful title. In the collection’s liner notes, Campbell recalls Petty keeping the problem of that lyric on the back burner for months, then one day he arrived at the studio with a monosyllabic eureka: wreck. “You Rock Me” is a cliché. “You Wreck Me” is a whole vibe.

Pitchfork: It’s a sprawling quality inherent to the album that makes this box set feel less like a curio for obsessives than a deep interrogation into its success. Like the album itself, these recordings are fascinating, fun, and sometimes unsettlingly intimate. “Don’t Fade on Me,” the aforementioned Fahey-inspired ballad, is presented in an early solo rendition where you learn that Petty’s lyrics about a failing romantic relationship actually started as a desperate intervention from a guitarist to a bassist.

YouTube playlist here.

You can buy the album here.

posted by toastyk (24 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I forgot to add the celebratory live event on YouTube featuring Adria Petty, Ryan Ulyate, George Drakoulias, Blaze Ben Brooks and Nick Stenhardt, moderated by David Fricke.
posted by toastyk at 7:09 AM on October 17

Those of us who pay money to the satellite radio people (I bought a new truck this spring and it had the magical satellite radio and I was like “this is worth $8 a month”) have had the good fortune to hear bits and pieces of the collection on Tom Petty Radio. The interviews are really worth a listen too. I really like Confusion Wheel. I don’t know when I’ll buy this album; sometime.

I have been a Petty fan since I was introduced to Full Moon Fever in 1991 (a few years late, I know). I was 8 years old and I was pretty certain it was the greatest album I’d ever heard and precocious 8 year olds know all about good music; but, to be fair my family had quite an impressive record collection for some non-musical folks. I literally wore the tape out. A few years later I asked for Into The Great Wide Open and Greatest Hits for gifts and received them.

Then Wildflowers came out. And I got the CD so like every other CD I’d received I had to go find a tape to transfer it so I could actually listen to it without use of the family stereo system (remember those?). And there were tniojs and great videos and the Dogs With Wings Tour, and I was given permission to stay on the phone for HOURS to get tickets for when the Heartbreakers were coming to Charlotte. I don’t remember the entire set list, but it didn’t matter - I got to see one of my heroes.

I think it was Warren Zanes who explained that Tom was to Southerners what Bruce is to folks from up north. I was discussing this with another friend who is also a Southerner and she said “he was our poet.” The beauty of Tom’s music is that there is something that resonates for everyone.

Also, I know it’s not a Mike Campbell post, but holy crap is that man talented. He poured a lot of energy into the Heartbreakers, but if you want some more rock and roll, check out his band The Dirty Knobs if you haven’t already.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:35 AM on October 17 [14 favorites]

If absolutely nothing else, Full Moon Fever had the “attention CD listeners” bit halfway though, and I’ve always loved it since that.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:44 AM on October 17 [9 favorites]

It’s difficult to overstate the quality of this album. Looking forward to the day when I get the time to listen to this expansion front to back.

Tom Petty always seemed to me to be that guy that made it look so easy; like anyone could do it if they tried.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 8:32 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

Tom Petty always seemed to me to be that guy that made it look so easy; like anyone could do it if they tried.

And meanwhile, we...

Gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators
Got to move these color TVs

That ain't workin', that's the way you do it...
posted by deadaluspark at 8:41 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]

Can't wait to give it a good listen. Wildflowers is a perfect record, in my opinion. I was in my senior year in high school in Los Angeles when it was released, and it got me through my transition from childhood to adulthood. When I graduated high school, my dad, who I was living with, moved away, and I was on my own pretty early, barely 18, working at the local newspaper and trying to put myself through community college. My friends from high school had all gone off to college and I was suddenly very much a grown up. It was lonely and scary and I felt totally lost.

Sometimes my older sister would let me borrow her car for the weekend when she was out of town. I would drive it up and down PCH and listen to Wildflowers on repeat. The song "Crawling Back To You" would always pop up on my way back home, it was like a lullaby, I don't know what I was driving to or from, but it was meditative and it made me feel safe. "Most things I worry about never happen anyway," became a mantra that helped me make it through some pretty lonely, scary times. It wasn't ever a big hit, that song, I don't think I ever heard it on the radio or heard it in the presence of another person, but it was a big hit in my car.

I have since moved all over and made a pretty rad life for myself. In 2017 I took a trip down to Los Angeles to see Tom Petty play at the Hollywood Bowl with my younger sister. He played Freefallin' and the entire Bowl sang along and swayed, a song that so deliciously described my own valley life as a young girl, describing all of the legendary streets (in Los Angeles calling Ventura and Mulholland streets feels wrong, but I don't know what else they are.) around us and their character, it felt prettyyyy amazing. It was the eve of my 40th birthday.

Somewhere toward the end of the set he played "Crawlin' Back to You." I still can't fully believe it - while he did get to most of his big hits, when I think about all of the deeper album cuts and B Sides he couldn't have played from the depths of his catalog, there was something so special about it, I'll take it with me forever. He played one more show the next night, and I went back home to Seattle. He died the next day - I still can't get over it.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:59 AM on October 17 [38 favorites]

If anyone's interested, it's under $15 at Target right now, and they're doing a buy 2 get 1 free on selected books/music/movies. I just ordered it yesterday, and have been listening to the YouTube playlist on and off all week. It's really lovely to listen to.
posted by toastyk at 9:39 AM on October 17

"You Don't Know How it Feels". When this song comes on it will grab me, and I will listen, and sing along to it, and get goosebumps. Until the day I die.
posted by zipperhead at 9:47 AM on October 17 [2 favorites]

I'm old enough to remember hearing "Let's roll another tniooooojjjj" on the radio, ruining a perfect song.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:48 AM on October 17 [9 favorites]

Wildflowers was the first actual Tom Petty album I heard. My dad had a Greatest Hits and I knew songs from the radio but I had never heard an actual album. But I was signed up for one of those CD clubs where you get 7 CDs for a penny but have to refuse to receive the promotional CD each month (which cost more than buying that same CD in the store). Usually I was pretty good about this but that month I wasn't and received that month's selection. Wildflowers. Been a fan ever since.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:57 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

I had no idea this was coming out, but it's directly in my wheelhouse and I think I'll have to research which of the zillion versions of the expanded album is "must have" and buy it. Wildflowers is one of the few Truly Great Albums Ever, IMO, so this expanded edition is of interest to me.

I wonder what the original 25-track double album track running order was. That would be fun to recreate, if it can be found.

Thanks so much for posting! I have my Prince Sign O The Times super-expanded set sitting right here because of a MetaFilter post, so this is sort of continuing a trend. :)
posted by hippybear at 10:15 AM on October 17

available to Amazon Music subscription too. Thanks!
posted by djseafood at 10:39 AM on October 17

Ditto Apple Music. This is great.
posted by emelenjr at 11:20 AM on October 17

Bought it (just the 2 CD version), downloading the wav files now. Looking forward to this. Much excite!
posted by hippybear at 11:36 AM on October 17

Into the Great Wide Open has an "Attention Cassette Listeners" track, too.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:10 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

I have a weirdly strong memory of the Tom Petty cameo as kinda-himself in The Postman.

"I know you... You're famous."
"I was once... Sorta, kinda, not any more."
posted by kaibutsu at 2:14 PM on October 17 [5 favorites]

Came just to say, yes Wildflower is the perfect album & a deeply humanist statement. As fine a recording as was ever made.
posted by bertran at 5:03 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]

My partner had off yesterday and went to the record store. She came back with this and we're listening to it now. I'm really appreciative because I didn't know this was coming out but have really loved getting to listen to it. He's such a master of amazing simplicity, there's just something special about how he composes amazing songs out of three chords.
posted by Carillon at 5:44 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

Some of these songs, like "California", are off of the soundtrack from "She's the One", and honestly they've never gotten their due. Petty at his best. I can't wait to listen to all the rest.
posted by vitout at 6:22 PM on October 17

I saw Petty at the old Boston Garden in 1994. I was a big metalhead complete with waist-length hair and all, but man that show put a big smile on my face and no mistake. I'll definitely be picking up a copy, thanks for the post!
posted by 1adam12 at 6:25 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]

Rick Rubin interviews Petty's daughter Adria about this release (and a bunch of other stuff) on a recent episode of the Broken Record podcast.

(Link to Overcast b/c it's not on the podcast website yet for some reason.)
posted by oakroom at 6:49 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

Can't wait to give it a good listen. Wildflowers is a perfect record, in my opinion. I was in my senior year in high school in Los Angeles when it was released, and it got me through my transition from childhood to adulthood.

Hey, we're the same age. Yes, this album will always mean trying to figure out how to say goodbye to my high school friends and then, over the next few years, driving my 1989 Ford Tempo with the windows down because the AC didn't work to my shitty job painting dorm rooms in the summers during college. I pulled the cd out after Tom died and ripped it, and it's been on steady rotation ever since. Just so damn beautiful.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:00 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

What's most interesting to me: Petty seems to have known that Wildflowers was the best album he made. I mean, I agree; it was. He made a lot of good stuff, but this album is great from start to finish. It's not often that an artist can see so well from the outside in: yes, this was the best music I've made.

And to hear the demo for the song Wildflowers that he just created from start to finish in one fell swoop. Unbelievable stuff.
posted by veggieboy at 2:32 PM on October 18 [4 favorites]

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