Tom Petty Showed Grace And Beauty In Songwriting Tom Petty wrote a lot of hits during his more than 40 years making music. Petty is one of the many notable people who died in 2017. As much as he was known for big classic rock anthems, he was also capable of just tremendous grace and beauty in his songwriting, as seen in the song "Wildflowers."
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Tom Petty Showed Grace And Beauty In Songwriting

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Tom Petty Showed Grace And Beauty In Songwriting

Tom Petty Showed Grace And Beauty In Songwriting

Tom Petty Showed Grace And Beauty In Songwriting

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Tom Petty wrote a lot of hits during his more than 40 years making music. Petty is one of the many notable people who died in 2017. As much as he was known for big classic rock anthems, he was also capable of just tremendous grace and beauty in his songwriting, as seen in the song "Wildflowers."

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Tom Petty wrote a lot of hits during his more than 40 years making music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICAN GIRL")

TOM PETTY: (Singing) Well, she was an American girl.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REFUGEE")

PETTY: (Singing) You don't have to live like a refugee.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREE FALLIN'")

PETTY: (Singing) And I'm free - I'm free fallin'.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: As much as Petty was known for these kind of big classic rock anthems, he was also capable of I think just tremendous grace and beauty in his songwriting.

SHAPIRO: All week we've been remembering people who died over the course of a year, and we asked Stephen Thompson of NPR Music for this year-end appreciation of Tom Petty, who died in October.

THOMPSON: I've always thought of Tom Petty as kind of a rock 'n' roll everyman, kind of a blunt and grounded singer in a sea of musicians who tried to cultivate mystique. And it's not that Petty didn't have mystique. I think he was a genius. He had kind of an arty side. He could be mercurial. But his biggest hits and his public persona were about a kind of plain-spokenness, a kind of directness. He used more one-syllable words than most songwriters. And I think because of that, his songs could really get their hooks into you. He was basic without ever being boring.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILDFLOWERS")

PETTY: (Singing) You belong among the wildflowers. You belong in a boat out at sea.

THOMPSON: When you listen to a song like "Wildflowers" from 1994, it's a really profound statement of compassion and hope in the face of disappointment and loss.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILDFLOWERS")

PETTY: (Singing) Run away. Find you a lover. Go away somewhere all bright and new.

THOMPSON: There's something beautiful about wishing for someone's happiness, especially if you've had a complicated relationship with that person, especially if you're in the aftermath of a breakup. If you can look at a relationship that you've had and your takeaway from it is, I want that person to be free; I want that person to have everything they want in the world, that is such a beautiful note of grace.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILDFLOWERS")

PETTY: (Singing) Run away. Go find a lover. Run away. Let your heart be your guide. You deserve the deepest of cover. You belong in that home by and by.

SHAPIRO: That was NPR Music's Stephen Thompson talking about Tom Petty's song "Wildflowers." Petty died from cardiac arrest in October. He was 66.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILDFLOWERS")

PETTY: (Singing) Far away from your trouble and worry...

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