The Great 78 Project protects and preserves both physical and digital copies of early 78 rpm music recordings. Thousands of songs from the early days of recording can be listened to online, like Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats, Frankie Yankovic and his Yanks, Chick Bullock and Levee Loungers, and Dick “Two Ton” Baker and His Music Makers.
Many of Tom Petty’s music videos in the 1980s were imaginative, visually rich movies that were inspired by earlier literary works.
Things get started in 1982 with You Got Lucky, in which the Heartbreakers motor through a presumably postapocalyptic desert and rediscover the boom box and electric guitar. The Mad Max aesthetic is more derivative than inspired, but the band demonstrates that they can wear hats well, and Battlestar Galactica and an animated Chuck Berry make fleeting appearances.
His creative, ultimately disturbing, 1985 video with the Heartbreakers for Don’t Come Around Here No More has a very ’80s Alice trapped in Wonderland, with Petty as the Mad Hatter (top hats were a thing for him). The song was written with Dave Stewart (Petty’s next door neighbor when an arsonist set fire to Petty’s house), who claimed it was inspired by a Carrollesque night he spent at a party at Stevie Nicks’ house.
Runnin’ Down a Dream, from his 1989 solo album, is a black and white animated video inspired by the early twentieth century comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. Petty is led through a dream landscape by a small, cigar-chewing figure wearing a crown, a clear homage to Slumberland‘s Flip the clown. On his adventure, there are allusions to Wonderland, Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, and King Kong.
One morning in 1987, someone set fire to Tom Petty’s house while Petty, his wife, child, and housekeeper were inside it. Everyone survived, but the entire house, except for his basement recording studio, was quickly consumed by the flames. The arsonist was never captured.
After the fire, Tom Petty did two things: he rebuilt the house, and wrote I Won’t Back Down. “There’s not a hint of metaphor in this thing,” he said of the song, which was released on his 1989 solo album.
“I’d buy myself some stylish clothes but I sure hate to pay.” Hard to beat a yellow t-shirt and button shirt. Pennywise positive thinking from the back of the car by John Mellencamp.
She remembered taking money out from gathering crop
And buying Johnny’s guitar at a broker shop
In 1958 Chuck Berry wrote the story of Johnny B. Goode. Two years later, he retold Johnny’s story, this time from the perspective of his mother, who bought him his guitar and his bus ticket to Hollywood.
The Georgia Satellites thought it rocked, too.
You provide the backing band and pay me up front, in cash. I’ll play Johnny G. Goode.
RIP Chuck Berry
Self-abnegation with cowbell: Delbert McClinton, Live from Austin, 1989