Manda Mosher’s Five Tom Petty Songs Most People Don’t Know and Should


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Very few songwriters in my opinion have a catalog of work that can speak to almost any situation you’ve been through in life. I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Doors, CSN, The Beatles, my parent’s vast record collection. But the one artist that spoke to me more than all my favorites combined was Tom Petty.

Tom’s philosophical writing style is poetic but not obtuse, deeply heartfelt with the perfect amount of sentimental belief. As he found the answers to the heart’s toughest questions and explored the mysteries of human behavior, he shared them with us all. Petty will forever be one of our greatest American songwriting treasures.

Underneath his chart-topping hits sits a deep and rich catalog. Here are five favorites you may have yet to discover:

1. “Scare Easy” – Mudcrutch (2008) “Scare Easy” could have easily fit on a Heartbreakers record and been a chart topping single. This gem followed the opening track “Shady Grove” on Mudcrutch’s first commercial self-titled album release in 2008.

“I don’t scare easy / Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun / You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run / I don’t scare easy / for no one.”

This chorus is the ringtone on my phone; a mantra to give a shot of courage each day.

2. “I Forgive It All” – Mudcrutch 2 (2016) “I Forgive It All” is a gorgeous song that reminds me how close any one of us are to hitting real hard times. Tom’s almost Zen-like acceptance of human error mixed with sadness for our faults, with gentle forgiveness wrapped in a warm lullaby. Sean Penn was particularly taken with this song once he heard Mudcrutch 2. Sean directed the stark video with Samuel Bayer which depicts Anthony Hopkins reflecting while walking the streets of Skid Row, ending with Anthony whispering and then shouting, “I forgive.”

“People are what people make ‘em, that ain’t gonna change / There ain’t nothing you can do, nothing you could rearrange / But I forgive it all, I forgive it all / With her, I forgive it all.”

3. “Spike” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Southern Accents (1985)
With “Spike” Tom brings us back to his upbringing in Gainesville, Florida and to the Cypress Lounge, where mean colorful characters hung out. Tom’s witty storytelling with his sarcastic sense of humor comes alive in this great mid-tempo groover. You can hear him side grin right through the lyric: “Boys, we gotta man with a dog collar on / You think we oughta throw ole Spike a bone?”

Tom’s concerts were an epic treat of storytelling, singing along, long jams, and high energy rock & roll. This live video captured from a performance on May 1st, 2012 depicts the kind of storytelling experience Tom was expertly adept at.

4. “It’ll All Work Out” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) (1987)

This album by Tom & the band was often overlooked. I remember first hearing this song as a young girl and feeling the heartache while navigating my own perilous romantic journeys, and recognizing that no matter how much you want a particular relationship to work, a multitude of circumstances can set you on a different course regardless. This song comes from the perspective of knowing someone may be better off with someone else, maybe due to your own inability, or maybe because it’s just not meant to be.

“There were times apart, there were times together / I was pledged to her for worse or better / When it mattered most, I let her down / That’s the way it goes, it’ll all work out.”

5. “Room at the Top” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Echo (1999)

Although “Room at the Top” reached #19 on the Billboard Rock charts as a single, it’s a song that I feel is still widely unknown in comparison to his big sweeping hits. This song is how and where I imagine Tom to be now: somewhere out there with a room at the top of the world. The Echo record was written and recorded during Tom’s darkest times, going through separation from his first wife and Heartbreaker Howie Epstein’s struggles with drugs. The album cover for Echo is missing Howie’s presence because he didn’t show up for the shoot. The stark isolation combined with olive branches of hope and feeling that everything will be alright is signature Tom.

“I got a room at the top of the world tonight / And I ain’t comin’ down, now I ain’t comin’ down / I ain’t comin’ down.”

MANDA MOSHER is an award-winning Los Angeles native singer-songwriter with deep roots in the California Americana and Alt-Country music scenes. As leader of her namesake solo band, Mosher released two albums with Red Parlor Records, and followed up with two albums as co-leader of all female fronted California Country group, CALICO the band (California Country Records).

She’s performing next at the famed Troubadour, same venue where so many of our greatest songwriters were discovered, on March 7, 2020, on a bill with The Dirty Diamond and Lemmo.

Manda is also a four-time LA Critic Awards Winner and five-time LA Music Awards winner, including such honors as Americana Album of the Year, Singer-Songwriter of the Year, and two-time National Touring Artist of the Year.

Manda Mosher. Photo by Shots By Morrison

In addition to her activities as a recording artist, Manda is also a business woman and entrepreneur, having launched both California Country Records and her current Blackbird Record Label; also an apparel company, California Country Apparel. She was a founder of the annual California Country Social event at Americana Fest, and is owner of the San Fernando Valley Recording studio.

“Mosher is a sterling example of the influence of Tom Petty on the entire Americana scene. Mosher’s voice is so smoky and strong that it’s perfectly suited to Tom’s musical style, while her stage presence reminds us of a younger Emmylou Harris. The overall sound of the band is head and shoulders over their peers.”  —L.A. Music Critic, Bob Leggett

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