Amazing Songs Tom Petty Wrote Without You Even Knowing
Update: Late Monday night, manager Tony Dimitriades confirmed that singer Tom Petty "died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, bandmates and friends." He said that Petty could not be revived after going into cardiac arrest in his Malibu home.
Update: At 4:55 p.m. on Oct. 2, the LAPD tweeted that they had "no information about the passing of singer Tom Petty.. Initial information was inadvertantly [sic] provided to some media sources. However, the LAPD has no investigative role in this matter. We apologize for any inconvenience in this reporting." Bustle had reached out to Petty's reps and the LAPD for confirmation, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Update: Tom Petty is reportedly still alive and fighting for his life at a hospital in Los Angeles. A report from TMZ states that the singer has a do not resuscitate order and the odds of recovery are very slim. The LAPD says that they have "no information about the passing of singer Tom Petty. Initial information was inadvertantly provided to some media sources," but "the LAPD has no investigative role in this matter."
Earlier: In heartbreaking news for the music community and beyond, Tom Petty has died at the age of 66. According to TMZ, EMTs arrived at his home in Malibu on Sunday night, put the singer on life support, and then rushed him to the hospital in critical condition where he later passed away. CBS later confirmed his death. The lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will undoubtably be missed by many, and those seeking solace may turn to his beloved music for comfort. But one way to celebrate the life of this storied musician is to revisit the music he wrote, but did not necessarily perform. Because there are so many amazing songs Tom Petty wrote you may not know about.
The biggest one, of course, is Sam Smith's "Stay With Me." Though Sam Smith and Petty never officially collaborated, the lyrics of "Stay With Me" and Petty's 1989 hit song "I Won't Back Down," are so similar, Petty was given a writing credit on the track after the song was already released. Apparently the similarities between the two tracks was entirely a coincidence, as they both happen to follow the same chord progression. Smith's representative agreed, and said in 2015:
"The publishers for the song 'I Won’t Back Down,' written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, contacted the publishers for 'Stay With Me,' written by Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips, about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions. Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of 'Stay With Me' listened to 'I Won’t Back Down' and acknowledged the similarity."
Well, there you have it. But Petty has contributed to other tracks he did not originally perform as well. He is also credited with adding to a Chamillionaire song, "Good Morning," in which the rapper uses part of Petty's famous "Free Fallin'" incorporated into his song. The rapper Pimp C also sampled "Free Fallin'" on his track "I'm Free," giving Petty another writing credit.
And he also contributed many writing credits to The Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup made up of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Petty.
Looking at Tom Petty's immense body of work and most notably his lyrics, it's clear that the artist had a unique and bittersweet outlook on the world. For example, in his song "I Won't Back Down" he sings, "I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushin' me around. But I stand my ground and I won't back down."
Many of his songs seem to point towards the shift between life and death, and even, perhaps, an afterlife. In learning to fly, he croons, "I'm learning to fly around the clouds but what goes up must come down. I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings, coming down is the hardest thing."
And in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' track, "Time To Move On," he aptly writes, "What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing but under my feet, baby, grass is growing."
Petty may have left this world, but his vast collection of music — as a solo artist, part of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Traveling Wilburys, and his contributions to other artists' material — will have a lasting impact to his devoted fans.