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Around Los Angeles With Tom Petty

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I wasn’t much of a Tom Petty fan in my pre-L.A. years, but like most people, I knew him from the basics…I had caterwauled the lyrics to "Free Fallin’" alongside other angsty Massachusetts teens at a dance or two, and I had been baffled by, but pretended I knew what the hell was going on in, the "Mary Jane's Last Dance" video.

But beginning with my drive cross country, I began to develop a taste for music that invokes wide open spaces and possibility. Tom Petty not only captured it, but somehow applied the feeling to Los Angeles, referencing the city in tons of his music.

LA Weekly has compiled an amazing tour of Los Angeles, pointing out places that have influenced or appeared in Petty's music, from obvious references like Mulholland, Ventura Blvd. and Reseda in "Free Fallin'" to spots that had enough of an effect on him as a budding rock star to influence the way he wrote and thought about the city. They begin with Sunset Blvd, with a pretty great image of a Tom Petty that has just arrived in Los Angeles with stars in his eyes:

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Imagine Petty driving up in a van full of Florida stoners onto Sunset Boulevard in 1974, cruising for labels. "You just saw them down the road. So we would just go in the front door of every one with a tape and say, 'Hi, we just got here from Florida, can we play you this tape?'"

The map shows Petty's homes in and around L.A., from Canoga Park to Encino (because nothing says rock n' roll like the Valley) to his home today in Malibu. The article also gives us a look into his occasionally Dylan-esque decisions to do whatever he had to do in order to forward his career:

[Former Petty band] Mudcrutch keyboardist Benmont Tench put together a new band and began rehearsing them at the Village Recorder. Petty came in one day to play harmonica and heard Tench playing keys with Mike Campbell (guitar), Ron Blair (bass), Stan Lynch (drums) and Randall Marsh (drums), and thought, "I have to steal this band." And he did, calling them the Heartbreakers.

Does this list just whet your palate? For those of you screaming, "tell me more about Tom!" here are a few more links to check out...

Rolling Stone talks to Petty about the upcoming Super Bowl
Jeff Lynne and Petty on the Traveling Wilbury's, Part One and Part Two
Listen to an interview with Tom about the movie "Runnin' Down the Dream" on NPR

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Photo by toddheft via Flickr