On July 4th, I wasn’t feeling well and decided to sit and watch the Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers documentary called Runnin’ Down a Dream that is now streaming on Netflix. I figured I might as well watch one of America’s greatest rock bands ever on our country’s birthday.
The film is by Director Peter Bogdanovich and released in 2008 by Warner Brothers. When it was originally released it was as a 4 disc box set with the first 2 DVD disc being the movie, the third DVD disc was the 30th Anniversary concert and the fourth disc was a CD of rare tracks. I just might pick this up if I see it when I am out.
Now be warned, if you plan to watch make sure you have 4 hours available because once you start there is no stopping. The 4 hours flies by as this documentary is so entertaining mixed with great interviews and great footage of the band’s history. Any fan of Tom Petty should check it out as you will not be disappointed.
The people interviewed are some of the great icons in rock including George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Jackson Browne, Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder, Rick Rubin, Johnny Depp and of course Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and all the other members of the Heartbreakers including Ron Blair, Scott Thurston, Steve Ferrone, Stan Lynch and Howie Epstein.
The documentary is broken out in 2 parts. Part One is about the beginnings of the band starting with Mudcrutch and how the Heartbreakers came to being a band. It went through the band’s albums in the 70’s up to the album, Southern Accents, in 1985.
One thing I had forgotten about Tom Petty were the battles he had with his label over his publishing contract and how he stood up to the record company on increasing album prices to $9.98. You will have to watch to see how it turned out.
Part two starts with Petty and the Heartbreakers joining Bob Dylan on tour which lasted a couple years. It was great seeing that old concert footage. The documentary then discussed the relationship with Dylan, Lynne, Harrison and Orbison that turned into the The Traveling Wilbury’s. The film goes through the rest of their catalog up to the 30th Anniversary Concert in Gainesville, FL in 2006.
Another thing I had forgotten about the band is that they were the backup band for Johnny Cash on his album Unchained. Petty stated it was the best album they had ever done. The film goes through all of his solo albums, the death of bass player Howie Epstein, and the departure of drummer Stan Lynch.
I really enjoyed watching the documentary. Listening to all those great songs and even seeing bits from their videos such as “You Got Lucky” was a wonderful journey down memory lane. Towards the end, Petty is talking about his bandmates and I have to concur with a him that Mike Campbell is a very underrated guitarist and songwriter. I went back and listened to their songs, Campbell is really awesome.
After watching, there is no doubt that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers are one of the greatest American rock bands of all time. No wonder they are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
You can check out the trailer below:
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