For the week of 9/3/2012…

“Into the Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Maybe it’s just because I’ve never been that into Tom Petty, but “Into the Great Wide Open” was never really on my radar until these last few days.  I was listening to the second disc of the Heartbreakers anthology I gave my dad last Christmas, and this song really stood out to me for a couple of reasons.  First, musically, the songwriting here is plainly, heavily influenced by George Harrison, right down to the Harrison-esque lead guitar licks.  (This song was composed by Petty and ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, bandmates of Harrison’s in the Traveling Wilburys.)  And secondly, this song is meant to tell a story, which is always a good way to curry favor with me.  “Into the Great Wide Open” is the tale of a rock star named Eddie, chronicling his rise to fame and fall from grace.  It’s the kind of song for which you wish there was a music video to provide an accompanying visual depiction of the story…

Fortunately, Tom Petty was kind enough to provide one, and he didn’t half-ass it either:  At nearly seven minutes, the video is a bona fide short film, and it’s absolutely worth watching.  A rather young Johnny Depp (circa 1991) stars as the protagonist, Eddie.  Tom Petty plays three roles:  the tattoo artist in the beginning; the “roadie named Bart” mentioned in the song; and the bespectacled narrator, who wears an orange Willie Wonka sort of suit (which is amusing considering Depp’s famous portrayal of Wonka fifteen years down the line).  The fact that this wasn’t even nominated for a Best Music Video Grammy defies logic.

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