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Tom Petty talks about Huey Lewis' music

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Itchycoo Park, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. Say It Right

    Say It Right Not for the Hearing Impaired

    Niagara Falls
    Joni went big game hunting. She aimed for Dylan. TP went for the easy prey.
    Spencer R, dee, DTK and 1 other person like this.
  2. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    This is a surprisingly epic thread. I've heard the music of both of these combatants many times in supermarkets. They both have their charms.
  3. Randall DeBouvre

    Randall DeBouvre Well-Known Member

    I agree that Tom Petty picks on soft and easy targets.

    However, It seems that if you are a male musician, you are being candid when you criticize other musicians, but if you a female like Joni you are b****

    I say that all musicians should avoid criticize other musicians, no matter who they are.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 11:25 PM
    Steve Mc likes this.
  4. Steve Mc

    Steve Mc Bangles Encyclopedia

    United States
    The way Tom Petty approached the matter was not very charitable to Lewis.
    I absolutely adore Tom Petty. I like Huey Lewis too. They both did their own thing. Petty's thing was kind of a high pop/rock art. Lewis's was smooth, even unique fun. There's room for both in rock and roll, and there has been from the beginning.
  5. Plano

    Plano Forum Resident

    Half Moon Bay, CA
    Thank you for sharing in detail what you and your friends and your roommates thought and said and did. It was inspirational.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 11:41 PM
  6. wwright

    wwright Forum Resident

    San Francisco, CA.
    I'm a fan of both artists. But man, Tom is picking on the wrong guy here.

    Huey has a heart of gold. He helped an old bank robber named Chuck O'Connor start the Marin Services For Men halfway house. Wrote him a very nice check to do so, and asked nothing in return. Chuck helped thousands of ex-cons and addicts, and used to rob banks with Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. His story is absolutely insane, but Huey's act of kindness is the reason he was able to help all those people. The guy never wanted any publicity for it - I spoke with him once about it, and he just smiled at the memory and asked how Chuck was doing.

    I also love Tom's music. Very original, and yep, he also wandered into pop territory on occasion.

    Huey has equal stature among rock royalty. His first S/T album illustrates how good they really were. No-one seems to have heard it, but it was huge here in the Bay Area. The first side is like a greatest hits compilation you've never heard, and mastered capably by Doug Sax. He performed onstage for Thin Lizzy's "Live and Dangerous." And his bandmates in the News (aka Clover) were the house band on Elvis Costello's "My Aim Is True." They were part of some major rock history.

    I think both of them were great.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 11:40 PM
  7. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Senior Member

    You're welcome! :tiphat:
  8. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Hearing In Stereo Since 1959

    Salem, MA
    I think you're misinterpreting Petty's comment.

    Lewis, at his peak, was writing catchy, bar band type songs. Nothing wrong with that. He's actually quite good at it. And musically, he's got the basics down. And he has fun. I once saw the band at a local outdoor radio station promo stand next to a baseball backstop (I was about 25 feet away from them) do a 20 minute set of doowop and R'n'B a capella. They know what they're doing, limitations and all.

    Petty, on the other hand, was an advocate - for political and personal causes. He wrote personal, autobiographical songs, as well as sheer rockers. Lewis was slicker. Petty had more heart.

    That's what Petty was talking about. Not the tonal quality of his voice. Petty's vocal tonal quality ain't going to win any awards either. It was about having your songs say something from the gut. That's not what Lewis was/is about. Lewis is pure neo-retro fun. No more than that. Petty respected artists who want to do more than that.

    It reminds me of Pat Metheny's famous rant about Kenny G. G made middle of the road smooth jazz pablum popular, but had really nothing to say, musically speaking.

    Metheny has always been expanding and trying new things, finding his own voice, yet finding new areas in collaborations.

    Metheny had NO patience for jazz players like Kenny G. I don't know too many who would disagree with him.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021 at 12:13 AM
  9. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Senior Member

    I'm sure that's true. It's not exactly germane to the topic, but nice to know. Even Petty said in that interview something like "I'm sure he's a nice guy" and that history backs that up. But the thread, and Petty's comments addressed the music, not the personal character.

    Isn't that what the monologue in American Psycho talks about?

    I will say that makes me want to hear it, but it's also a sad commentary on what sales and fame does to artistry and creativity--i.e. that first album appears to have lots of cred, the rest, not so much, and it's what came after that sold truckloads. Sort of reminds of what happened to Journey.

    All new to me, all pretty interesting. Still doesn't reconstruct the actual mainstream '80s musical product IMO, but that is some pretty serious resume material they should be proud of.
    wwright likes this.
  10. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Hearing In Stereo Since 1959

    Salem, MA
    You can't compare popular with good, necessarily. Pat Boone likely outsold Little Richard records in their contemporaneous time, but few would say that Boone was anywhere near the ballpark of Richard Fenniman's artistry and performance ability.

    I like to use the analogy of McDonald's hamburgers. There are more McDonald's hamburgers sold in the world, by far, than any other company's burgers. On the other hand, there are few who will claim that McDonald's makes THE best tasting burger in the world.
  11. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Senior Member

    Your comments set the distinctions very well. :thumbsup:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with superficial fun, in music or anywhere else. God knows I like -- even love -- a lot of music many here would find as equally superficial or distasteful as Lewis' post-debut output. Underscores the validity of "each to his own."
    wwright and AnalogJ like this.
  12. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Hearing In Stereo Since 1959

    Salem, MA
    Sure. Mid-career The Beatles songs are miraculous for their combined catchiness, sophistication, and production. But, boy, those early career, simpler songs are sheer fun.
    wwright and EdogawaRampo like this.
  13. wwright

    wwright Forum Resident

    San Francisco, CA.
    The guy in American Psycho was right. :)

    From that first album - a song about friends lost to coke addiction.

    He could tackle serious topics with his music, and still make it accessible.

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021 at 12:37 AM
  14. The Elephant Man

    The Elephant Man Forum Resident

    You nailed it perfectly.
    AnalogJ likes this.
  15. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Senior Member

    Yes they are. And I've always thought they were better examples of their 'band' sound -- there isn't a lot of add-on studio production, so it seems more 'live', or closer to the sound they might have had during their club/bar years.
  16. Say It Right

    Say It Right Not for the Hearing Impaired

    Niagara Falls
    Somebody just had to name drop The Beatles...for no reason.
  17. dee

    dee Forum Resident

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Interesting interview as a whole imo and in the context of the Dylan with TP&H tour as well. So some of the interview questions are a translation from another interviewer (from Japan I assume) and with many forward, direct follow-up questions then by the interviewer on record. I thought the interviewer did a good job with the conversational aspects of the interview.

    Some good insights from TP on Southern Accents, Farm Aid, on Florida, his family roots, politics as music, etc. Many ruminations on other stuff and of course, other musicians etc.

    So I've spent WAY too much time thinking about this :agree:.

    I wonder if it was 'the rock and roll' song that got Petty's goat? It's not quite as 'convincing' (sound) as say Bob Seger's voice or brand. The Heart of Rock and Roll which as a song fwiw I like but is sort of not very rock and roll-sounding. The callouts to the cities a la a classic tune like Dancing In The Streets or a Chuck Berry road song, that it aims for or emulates? makes it kind of 'presumptive' in that way, and the vocalist doesn't really have that power or edge to embody the song subject, + the sort of lightweight arrangement and polished sound of the recording, makes it seem more Pop and Sing or Hear and Hum. Which doesn't mean one shouldn't be able to sing or write a song about the topic. It means different things to different people. I wonder fwiw if THAT kind of statement song, from someone who may not sound 'rock and roll enough' was a trigger for some folks who thought they or others more clearly expressed the heart (or sound, style, personality) of 'rock and roll' than this Huey Lewis guy did or ever could? I dunno.

    Finely crafted and well presented song imo fwiw, but with no 'rock and roll' abandon or edge to it. Petty meanwhile is with his band and backing Bob Dylan on tour so he's got all the R&R royalty cred one might seem to have. Yet Heart still can have heart, just a softer one ;) - The Heart of Some Pop and A Little Roll.

    I might think that time following the interview would lead to what would have been a good thing for Petty and co.'s immediate future but Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) are exactly my sentiments when having to listen to that album! So, it may be 'poetic justice' lol that traditionally speaking The Heart of Rock and Roll sounds to me like it has a little more bounce, spirit, directness, tunefulness, and 'heart?' ;)
    , and fun, than most anything I hear of what would come later after the diss in the form of Let Me Up. Heart seems simple, straightforward, uncluttered, and pointed even if that point is a safe, smooth, soft, and harmless one. If this is it, then fwiw it was still a hit.

  18. Brewmeister

    Brewmeister Forum Resident

    I would agree I always viewed Petty as "production line" typical and standard classic rock radio fodder. But really to me compared to Huey Lewis he is Dylan and Lennon/McCartney.
    Both he and Huey seem like nice guys though.
    wwright likes this.
  19. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Petty is an interesting case.

    I don't really make an effort to listen to his music. Even his best songs fall short of others. Free Fallin', yeah not that great. I thought his Super Bowl half time show really exposed that.

    But he courted that classic rock rep through his career, and he did indeed get the SB halftime show. He got in the Wilburys.

    I don't know about Huey's first album. Maybe that was better. I think they were trying to do something more intelligent with that Small World album, and his fans really didn't buy it. It was too late for him at that point. Maybe he never could have pulled it off. Huey looked too much like a car salesman. Even Loverboy and Eddie Money had more panache.
    Brewmeister likes this.
  20. windfall

    windfall Senior Member

    If one more person cite "Freefallin'" as the benchmark for Petty's songwriting, I swear I am going to scream. Good job that in the internet space, no-one can hear you when you do.

    If we are talking songwriting quality, there are maybe 40-50 Petty songs I would list before FF.
    dee, George Co-Stanza, Peja11 and 2 others like this.
  21. John Shaft

    John Shaft One Bad Motha....

    Cleveland, Ohio
    Of course they did. If there was a post about toenail trimming somebody would still manage a way to include them...
    It gets old and stale real quick....
  22. Bluesman Mark

    Bluesman Mark But I'm innocent! Swan stole my music & framed me!

    I think a big part of the problem is that Huey wrote & recorded largely breezy sounding pop songs. The subject matter of some of them might have been more serious in nature, but they often tended to sound lightweight & therefore inconsequential, even if they were sometimes much deeper lyrically. He seemed more concerned with craftsmanship than musical, (not lyrical), depth.

    On the other hand, Tom wanted to be seen as & approached music as a "serious artist" much of the time. He tended to put more thought into his work, or at least appeared to do so. His music is denser sounding & feeling a lot of the time, because he approached it as an art form.

    Both ways work & are valid, it all boils down to which one you prefer as a listener, & also to how well each one stands the test of time. In the latter regard, Huey's sometimes deep lyrics often get overlooked because the music lacks the depth of his lyrics. Being breezy & lightweight may get you in the radio, but it doesn't ensure your music will be championed & mean something to people 10-20-30 or so years later.
    carlwm, dee, wwright and 1 other person like this.
  23. spherical

    spherical Forum Resident

    Yes, i agree.
  24. BPMC

    BPMC Forum Resident

    Riverside, CA USA
    Yeah... I wasn't aware of Clover during what I would consider to be their pre-Huey heyday (early 70's) so I never made any connection between the two bands til Years later. I do like much of Clover's mid-70's stuff too with Lewis' harmonica and bluesy vocals (Alex Call had a great voice for that genre of music, but he could come off a bit reedy at times).

    By the way... anyone interested in Clover should get a copy of Alex's excellent autobiography "867-5309/Jenny. The Song that Saved Me"

    I guess one good thing about hearing Petty expressing his opinion is that it indirectly got me back listening to Clover again. I'm not really a fan of HLatN... I see them simply as good-time pop/rock music that might get your head bobbin' and your toe tappin' even without you realizing it... but that's still an admirable quality. For that reason, I'll cut Petty a bit of slack for his comments, especially because at the end he does try to temper his statements with the "I'm sure he's a nice guy" comment.
    Bluesman Mark likes this.
  25. 12stringbassist

    12stringbassist He plays a 12-string bass. WHY?

    Manchester UK
    One thing I didn't put in earlier, that I just thought of, is that Tom Petty, is comparatively boring.
    (This is NOT a case of a Musician slagging other musician off). Huey was just always more fun.
    And Rick Nielsen even wrote a song for him.

    BPMC likes this.

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