4 Songs That Tom Petty Never Performed Live (And Why)

American country rock icon Tom Petty enjoyed a long and successful career with his band The Heartbreakers. From legendary hits like “Free Fallin’” to “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, Petty recorded a lot of music that has a cult following today. He also notably performed quite a few different songs from the 13 studio albums he released with The Heartbreakers. Still, there are some tracks that he never (or rarely) performed on tour. Let’s look at four songs from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers that were never performed live and why!

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1. “Red River”

This track from Hypnotic Eye was one of Tom Petty’s very last songs. Surprisingly, it didn’t have the vibe of a “final” track, and the 2014 album was also notably fresh for a band that had been around for a while. Some artists manage to put together records late in their career that show their wisdom and what they’ve learned musically. It’s no easy feat, but Petty absolutely did that with Hypnotic Eye. He never performed this particular song live, likely because he passed away just a few years later and probably couldn’t get to it.

2. “You Can Still Change Your Mind”

“You Can Still Change Your Mind” is from the 1981 release Hard Promises. The recorded version features the vocals of none other than Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. Unfortunately, he never performed the song live with Nicks, though it would have been amazing to hear. “I thought it sounded like something that could have been in the Beach Boys’ catalog somewhere,” said Petty of the track.

3. “A Self Made Man”

“A Self Made Man” isn’t your typical Tom Petty song. It’s also surprising that Tom Petty never performed the stellar track live. It’s humorous, bouncy, and somewhat reminiscent of swing music. It’s a very good deep cut that should have gotten more attention on the 1987 album Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough). Johnny Cash allegedly wanted to cover it but couldn’t quite hit those chords.

4. “Magnolia”

This delightful tune follows a man lamenting a brief country romance with his lost love. Petty wrote the song and tried to sell it to The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn, who ended up rejecting it. Legend says that Petty originally wrote the song last minute for an album and named it after the brand of toilet in the studio bathroom. It’s not clear if that legend is true, but if it is, it sort of makes sense why Petty wasn’t keen on playing it live with so many other songs to choose from.

Photo by Jerod Harris

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