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8EEZ Playlist: Tom Petty (R.I.P.)

Another iconic rocker enters Rock and Roll Heaven.

Unknown photo.

"And I'm Free. Free Fallin'."

Hello, one and all.

First, an announcement. The 8EEZ Playlist will be no more after this. After much consideration, my buddy Calvin "Oates" Cherry have decided to drop the stylized, "8EEZ" moniker (though fun it was) and we're going to just call it "The 'List" from now on. This is so we can add and encompass artists and music genres in our lists from all decades: 7EEZ, 9EEZ, etc. We figured that the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and yes, even the 10s, all deserve a shout.

On a more personal note, it seems that tragedies (terrorist acts and active gun shooting incidents particularly in Manchester, UK and most recently, in Las Vegas, NV this week) are now becoming more and more prevalent and even almost terrifying in today's musical concerts and festivals. This is very disheartening since music is supposed to bring us all together and bring joy and peace to our hearts. Gunmen and terrorists, both foreign and domestic, are now using these venues for their cowardice and heinous acts! I'm only hoping that more security and more alertness can prevent future tragedies like these from happening again!

So... returning to our final 8EEZ list. This one is the first and hopefully the only one where we pay tribute to an artist that has recently passed away. This happened just yesterday, October 2, 2017. It created a vast controversy initially when a major news organization prematurely announced his death without official confirmation. At least two hours after, Mr. Thomas Earl Petty, known simply to his fans and to all of us as Tom Petty, was taken off life support after suffering from cardiac arrest earlier in the day. He was just eighteen days from turning 67 this year. It was a sad day for us rock fans, indeed.

He was a rock and roll music pioneer. He was born in Gainesville, FL in 1950, and was the face of Southern grassroots rock. He played many instruments and shared his stage with many of rock's legends, most recently Prince, who was one of many rock legends that passed on in 2016. His first official hit, "American Girl," was released in 1977 with his band, The Heartbreakers. His tally so far has been 80 million records sold and was one of the founders of the band, The Traveling Wulburys. His peak came in the 1980s with big hits like, "Don't Do Me Like That," "Don't Come Around Here No More," "Refugee," "The Waiting," and his big signature smash hit, "Free Fallin'," in 1989, and that ushered him into the 1990s.

Hits were abundant and his concert appearances legendary. In 2002, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. One of his songs was always a mainstay in my mp3 list: "Don't Do Me Like That," which was a backbeat-driven, feel-good rocker. I remember "Free Fallin'" being somewhat of a major anthem back in high school. I always equated his voice as if he were a teacher or professor—having the qualities of having a uniquely raspy voice and always filled with knowledge and wisdom. He was almost the same age as my own mother. This one does hit hard. May you rest in eternal peace, brother, and there's still the hope of seeing you rock out in the next life.

Here are some suggestions made by my good friend, Oates:

Cherry's Picks and Mine Also

"You Don't Know How It Feels" (1994)

A Southern rock jam that had a great guitar rock feel with a strong drumbeat and his harmonica added for spice. It also raised a few eyebrows for its brazen use of the word "joint," which was edited from many radio stations in order not to raise a fuss from the FCC! Hey... maybe it was "medicinal?"

"Jammin' Me" (1987)

A balls-to-the-wall rocker with a solid, dancey hook and some spoken word. It also makes great use of celebrity name-dropping like Eddie Murphy, Vanessa Redgrave, and Joe Piscopo. 

"Don't Come Around Here No More" (1985)

A synth-beat driven Top 40 hit, adding the zhiter for great effect. It was with his band, The Heartbreakers, and gave him the plum role of The Mad Hatter in his Alice in Wonderland-themed video, even with a dash hint of cannibalism. Oh, boy!

"Free Fallin'" (1989)

His signature song. A sad ballad with the acoustic guitar opening; another song about an American girl who loved Jesus and horses. The beat and chorus are what establish this as his most tender and heartrending. It's a song that I never got tired of listening to in my high school days.

"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" w/ Stevie Nicks (1981)

His classic duet with the legendary enchantress Stevie Nicks. This went all the way into the Top 5 in 1981. While its Stevie's raw performance that resonates, Petty adds the strong male perspective and makes this one a killer all the way.

"Here Comes My Girl" (1980)

A bit of a disco beat added to the rock vibe. A mostly spoken-word cut, but with a catchy chorus, makes this one a memorable Petty jam.

"Don't Do Me Like That" (1980)

Another sexy dance/rock classic with The Heartbreakers that went Top 10 in early 1980. It has that distinction of being a "grunt" song, always whenever he would sing the chorus. Seriously, try it. Do it right after he sings "that." Ugh!

"The Waiting" (1981)

Another hit for his band The Heartbreakers. The most ballad-y of his rock fare. Still, its mid-tempo style makes for a feel-good vibe.

"Refugee" (1980)

A memorable rocker and a staple in his concerts, it equates love like a loss of freedom that needs its freedom—at least, I'm guessing that's what Petty was aiming for lyrically.

"Mary Jane's Last Dance" (1993)

There's some question that the cryptic lyrics may have been alluding to marijuana. But, closely examining the lyrics, I can probably attest that it may be about suicide through overdosing. Whatever the case may be, it's still a potent track. Actress Kim Basinger appears as, of all things, a corpse.

"American Girl" (1977)

An absolute favorite of mine. It's been featured in a number of television sitcoms and even a horror film: The Silence of the Lambs in 1991, which set the chilling scene where Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) kidnaps Catherine Martin (Brooke Adams). Still, his first opus about an American girl is still a classic—and his first major hit in the 1970s.

Bonus: Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, and Jeff Lynne Paying Tribute to George Harrison: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in 2004.

While the late George Harrison and Prince were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Petty and a host of famous rockers gave this touching rendition of Harrison's classic hit. Prince comes out at the very last minute and adds the final zing.

So long for now. The next 'list is pending.

R.I.P. Tom Petty (1950-2017)

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