It’s been two years since Tom Petty finished his 40th Heartbreakers anniversary tour and died a week later of a fentanyl overdose on October 2nd, 2017. He was 66 years old. Over the years, dozens of artists have nodded to the legendary rocker. Here are ten of the best Tom Petty covers.
10) Coldplay with Peter Buck – “Free Fallin’”
A crowd-pleaser if ever there was one, this song is best when it’s just the crowd singing the chorus, which Coldplay frontman Chris Martin eagerly encourages. Toss in Peter Buck of R.E.M. on guitar and you’ve got a great cover of this Full Moon Fever classic.
9) The Killers – “The Waiting”
“Oh, baby don’t it feel like heaven right now? Don’t it feel like something from a dream?” The opening lyrics to “The Waiting” immediately take you back to whatever your greatest romantic moment was, whenever you were the most in love. Brandon Flowers, who was born the same year the song was released in 1981 on the Hard Promises record, belts them out at this October 2017 show.
8) Blackberry Smoke and Amanda Shires – “You Got Lucky”
“You Got Lucky” was a hit with its catchy opening synth riff. But Blackberry Smoke stripped it down, added a violin, and made something equally as memorable.
7) The Avett Brothers – “You Don’t Know How It Feels”
It would be sacrilegious to remove the harmonica from this Wildflowers cornerstone. So the Avett Brothers don’t. They do the right thing: emphasize the harmonies, turn up the mouth organ, and let the bass line ride. This is a song about kicking back your boots, rolling the windows down, rolling another joint, and singing along to the chorus as loud as you can.
6) Lukas Nelson – “Breakdown”
Tom Petty’s debut self-titled album was released in 1976 and included what would become some of his biggest hits. Lukas Nelson soulfully breaks this song down into a one man show.
5) Brandi Carlile, Joan Baez, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Steve Earle, David Pulkingham, Chris Masterson, Eleanor Whitmore – “Refugee”
Talk about a star-studded lineup. There’s nothing else to say about this cover, the vocals speak for themselves.
4) Johnny Cash – “Southern Accents”
If anyone was meant to sing this song, it was Johnny Cash. It’s only fitting that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers served as the backing band for this album, produced by Rick Rubin.
3) Eddie Vedder – “Room At The Top”
“I got a room where everyone can have a drink and forget those things that went wrong in their life.” Vedder lent his iconic vocals to this song for the In Memoriam segment of the 2018 Academy Awards. Tears were shed.
2) Bob Dylan – “Learning to Fly”
Despite his expansive lyricism, Bob Dylan is a man of few words at his shows. But after the death of his former Traveling Wilbury bandmate, he didn’t need words. His cover of this Into the Great Wide Open hit said it all.
1) An entire stadium of Florida Gator fans – “I Won’t Back Down”
In the wake of Petty’s sudden death, a great number of his superstar rock n’ roll friends paid tribute, but none of them came close to the one his hometown fans gave at the “The Swamp” stadium in October of 2017. For however much he loved his fans, his fans loved him ten times more. Two years gone, but missed every day.