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Tom Petty's Southern Accents


Paperback / softback

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Tom Petty's Southern Accents by Michael Washburn

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By 1985 Tom Petty had already obtained legendary status. He had fame. He had money. But he was restless, hoping to stretch his artistry beyond the confining format of songs like "The Waiting" and "Refugee." Initially conceiving a concept album about the American South, Petty, mired in excess and indulgence, lost the thread of the concept, jettisoning his ambitions for a concept record. In frustration Petty broke his hand while trying to mix the record, casting doubt on his ability to ever play guitar gain. The result is a hodgepodge of classic rock songs mixed with nearly unlistenable second-rate 80s music. While touring for the album, Petty made use of the iconography of the American Confederacy in an attempt to align himself with portions of his audience he did not feel in sync with. Despite its artistic failure, Southern Accents was a pivot point for Petty. Reeling from the defeat, Petty reinvented himself as a Californian, obtaining his biggest success with Full Moon Fever. Michael Washburn explores the history of Southern Accents and how it sparked Petty's reinvention. Washburn explores the flawed idea of using romantic notions of the American South as a basis for art and identity and opens up an examination of the "southernization" of America.

Author Biography

Michael Washburn is the director of programs at the New York Council for the Humanities, and former director of the Office of Public Programs at CUNY Graduate Center. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, Bookforum, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Guardian.
Release date NZ
April 4th, 2019
Country of Publication
United States
Bloomsbury Academic USA
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