Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
© Warner Bros.
"The Last DJ"
December 05 - 11, 2021
Year of Release: 2002
The Last DJ
Money Becomes King
When A Kid Goes Bad
Like A Diamond
You And Me
The Man who Loves Women
Have Love Will Travel
Can't Stop The Sun
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Tom Petty returns this week, with the Heartbreakers release, from 2002, The Last DJ. The album's theme is how Petty looks at the music industry. And,
it pretty much sucks. Taken from
a good article on this album,
When it comes to attacking the abuses of the corporate-rock monolith, Petty has some credibility. Rock & Roll has made Petty a wealthy man, but in an age of
overpriced arena shows and corporate-sponsored punk tours, he has kept his tickets at the more affordable end of the rock-star spectrum, has not accepted corporate
sponsorships and has never licensed any of his songs to an advertiser.
And since Petty's untimely death in 2017, the licensing of his music has yet to be determined. I'm assuming his family would be taking care of that, to prevent
any mishaps in Petty's music in future endeavors.
The Last DJ has great songs, as well as great musical styles. Despite the lyrics of the commonday music biz, it's how Petty's music with the Heartbreakers
accomplishes -- Like many of their albums, The Last DJ is no exception to that, of being a great album.
The album's leadoff tune is the title track, and the inspiration to who was "The Last DJ," was Jim Ladd. Petty told Mojo magazine that, in the song, "Radio
was just a metaphor. ‘The Last DJ’ was really about losing our moral compass, our moral center." Petty told Jim DeRogatis that the song is a story "about a D.J.
in Jacksonville, Florida, who became so frustrated with his inability to play what he wants that he moves to Mexico and gets his freedom back. The song is sung by
a narrator who's a fan of this D.J." The song was banned by many stations owned by Clear Channel Communications for being "anti-radio." "I was elated when my song
was banned," Petty told Billboard. "I remember when the radio meant something. We enjoyed the people who were on it, even if we hated them. They had personalities.
They were people of taste, who we trusted. And I see that vanishing." (Jim Ladd had worked in L.A.'s KLOS, and in 2011, was ammong others fired from Citadel
Broadcasting by Cumulus Media.) Petty's "The Last DJ" was one of the first of three singles from this album, as I remembered the title track getting good
radio airplay. The other two singles were "Have Love Will Travel" and "You And Me."
The next track is "Money Becomes King" as it is almost bluesy, yet it's Tom Petty, and a very good track. "Dreamville" is a great mellow tune,
and it a John Lennon'ish sound. "Joe" is a poweful Rock track, as it gets your attention, and into your face. "When A Kid Goes Bad" has a good Blues
feel, and again, it's a Tom Petty song, making it more better. "Like A Diamond" slows down the pace, in a good way (of course), and again, has a John
Lennon'ish type quality.
"Lost Children" is another good track, as it has it's power rock rhythms off-and-on throughout the song, yet Petty's smooth voice in between those power
rock rhythms makes this song even more interesting. "Blue Sunday" is a nice and mellow tune. Petty brings back his good rocking sound on the next track,
"You And Me."
And with "The Man Who Loves Women," it has a nostalgic feel, and has another Beatle quality about it - Paul McCartney. Petty had admired the Beatles,
having both Jeff Lynne (another Beatles fan), and the ex-Beatle himself, George Harrison, in the Traveling Wilburys, with Petty. And another member of the Traveling
Wilburys was Bob Dylan, as "Have Love Will Travel" is another good rock Petty song, and also has a Dylan feel to it. And speaking of the Beatles, ending the
album is another interesting tune, "Can't Stop The Sun." It's Beatle'ish, as this song has a quality of that to the Beatles' White Album. It's psychedelic,
as well. And there are alot of Beatle-istic qualities throughout this album. Petty knew his music, and the Beatles were a fine inspiration for him.
As mentioned from the Rolling Stone magazine review above, and how the music industry is:
On The Last DJ, he takes on everything that he perceives is wrong with rock in the era of multinational companies. The title song is about the death of free-form
radio. “Money Becomes King” argues that marketing has smothered self-expression. Petty can get heavy-handed: “When a Kid Goes Bad” is full of clichés about messed-up
adolescents. “Joe” is a plodding rant that tries to skewer a self-satisfied music mogul (“He gets to be famous/I get to be rich”). It sounds like the long-lost sequel
to John Fogerty’s ungainly put-down of a manipulative CEO, “Zanz Kant Danz.”
I would continue to include more of this interview, but you can read it
here. (The link again),
One other downfall was the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the year 2020 was at a standstill in every aspect of life. Many events were cancelled.
Life was pretty much cancelled. Everyone was locked in. As for music, the good thing that came out of it, were "virtual events." We have seen musical events
from the homes of music fans, and even from the music artists themeselves, from their homes. What was fascinating, was watching these events where multiple
performers were performing from their different homes (or studios) virtually, in sync.
Tom Petty's death in 2017 was totally unexpected. He had just finished touring. And in learning of his death, he was having health issues. His cause of
death was an overdose of medications he was taking for his health issues. (This same overdose was the result of another unexpected music aritst, Prince.)
Tom Petty has left a legacy of music to remember him by for many generations to come. Tom Petty was one of those artists we will all remember, for those who did
remember him, and growing up, listening to his music as part of this musical living journey soundtrack. The Last DJ has many great songs, just as any
Tom Petty album. "The Last DJ" song has reference to the fellow DJ, although the lyrics say otherwise. That is, what to play and in this case, what not
to play, and what you cannot play, despite you're wanting to play, and the others refusal for you to play it.
There goes the last dj/Who plays what he wants to play/And says what he wants to say/Hey, hey, hey/There goes your freedom of choice/There goes the last
human voice/There goes the last dj
There goes Tom Petty, one of the last great performers. He left us way too soon, like many. And we often think what he, and the others who are gone, what would
they keep accomplishing in their musical journeys. Into The Great Wide Open - that Wide Open is Rock & Roll Heaven. You know they have a hell of a band.
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