Prolific, melodic and deep: 5 Tom Petty songs to appreciate

Tom Petty

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If it feels like Tom Petty’s hits with the Heartbreakers have been on the radio for decades, that’s because they have. The classics “American Girl” and “Breakdown” were on the band’s 1976 debut album.

Petty, who died late Monday, was more than just a rock star and electrifying live performer. He was a writer and craftsman who added scores of songs to rock’s lexicon.

The chief songwriter on his 13 albums with the Heartbreakers and various other projects, Petty delivered hits so steadily, a drummer could keep time with them: “I Need to Know” (1978), “Refugee” (1979), “The Waiting” (1981), “You Got Lucky” (1982), “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (1985), “Free Fallin’,” ”I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” (1989), “Learning to Fly” (1991), “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (1993), “You Don’t Know How it Feels” (1994) and more.

Amid the trove of memorable music Petty left behind, here are five more gems worth appreciating:

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— “Even the Losers” (1979): With a chorus that asserts, “Even the losers get lucky sometimes,” this song was bound to become an anthem; one of many hits from the “Damn the Torpedoes” album, which also includes “Refugee,” ”Here Comes My Girl” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

— “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (1981): This single from Stevie Nicks’ solo album debut has a storied origin: Legendary producer Jimmy Iovine, who was dating Nicks and producing Petty and the Heartbreakers’ album “Hard Promises” at the time, convinced Petty and co-writer Mike Campbell to allow Nicks to record the song.

— “It Ain’t Nothin’ to Me” (1985): Written with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, this rocking track from Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Southern Accents” album channels a frustration with reality that couldn’t be more timely.

— “Yer So Bad” (1989): One of many standouts from Petty’s multiplatinum solo debut, “Full Moon Fever,” this schadenfreude-flavored collaboration with Jeff Lynne showcases a shimmering 12-string sound.

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— “End of the Line” (1989): Petty sings the verses on this life-affirming single written with his idols — Lynne, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Roy Orbison — as part of the Traveling Wilburys.


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