The Joup Friday Album: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Into the Great Wide Open”

Tom PettyOur family was middle class, blue collar, Polish and suburban. If you look at the average income of all the Chicago suburbs, Palos Hills falls literally right in the middle. Whatever “middle class” is these days, but in 1991 there was still a middle class and my brother and I grew up in it. As such we generally took one family trip a year, that is if my parents could afford it and get off of work. In the summer of 1991 we traveled west for not one but two weeks! I think my father’s rationalizing was we hadn’t taken a trip the previous year, and odds on after I graduated high school would not take another one as the four of us. This was “the last big family adventure!”
In late July we pilled into our tan Chevrolet four-door Suburban (the SUV before SUVs) and headed west on I-80. I will hand it to my parents, it was an epic trip and more then likely spawned my travel bug for years to come. We made stops at Pike’s Peak, the Grand Canyon, four corners, Las Vegas, The Great Salt Lake, Yellowstone National Park and The Devil’s tower. I’m sure there were a few kitch stops as well knowing my mother.
Appropriately enough, I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy during that two weeks. I had a black Sony Walkman and I loved that machine. I played so much music through that contraption in the four years between sophomore year in high school and freshman year at the university. On this trip it was REM’s Out of Time, Sting’s The Soul Cages and of course Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Into the Great Wide Open…today’s Friday album.

The Joup Friday Album: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “Damn the Torpedoes”

51a3EG7uUKLThis will be the first time I post something for the Joup Friday Album that I am not intimately familiar with. And yet, Damn the Torpedoes, especially the singles, has surrounded me to greater and lesser degrees for as long as I can remember. Refugee in particular I have memories of as a child; a wee lad of three of four, cuddled up at night with the powder blue AM/FM transistor radio that I always insisted on taking to bed with me. Refugee‘s sound made an impact on me – although obviously molded from what we now think of as traditional rock and roll influences Tom Petty and his band did things a little bit differently and really, in some ways helped guys like Elvis Costello and U2 update the popular rock music charts with elements other than tried-and-true 50’s style rock. Released in 1979, Damn the Torpedoes has obviously influenced a lot of what came immediately after it, so again, it’s always been slightly familiar to me. But intimate? No; Petty’s catalogue was always music I took for granted, was never something I sought out and consumed 100%. That changed recently, and when it did, I found that his late 70’s/early 80’s work still sounded fresh as hell to me, even through the wonderfully nostalgic and very much “of-its-time” 80s recording stamp it wears so well.

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