Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Runnin' Down a Dream

I know I've been slack in posting much more than radio playlists as of late. The first month and a half of the semester did me in. But I've had this post brewing for a few weeks, and it's time to get it out.

I recently watched the Peter Bogdanovich documentary Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream. I've always been a big fan of the Heartbreakers, and was curious as to what insight the documentary would provide. I was a little dismayed when the discs came from Netflix. This sucker clocks in at just under four hours. Now, I love me some Tom Petty, but that seems like overkill for a straightforward documentary on a pretty straightforward rock band.

But overkill it is not. I found myself drawn into the Heartbreakers' story for the film's duration, eagerly awaiting the insights and developments of the next documented phase of the band's career.

The film is rather comprehensive - following the boys from their youth in southern Florida to their stabs at obtaining a record contract, their rise to stardom in the 1970s, becoming video icons in the 1980s, the solo work, the Wilburys, the 1990s material - it's all here. And it's all told with such by the band themselves - every member was interviewed in depth, as were associates of the band (producers, former managers, family members, ex-band members, as well as a who's-who of rock stars from the 1970s through today).

And it is a surprisingly gripping story from the perspective of what was happening behind the scenes (infighting, substance abuse, family struggles, creative differences) and simply being able to see Tom and the band develop their craft over the course of 30 years.

Perhaps most interesting to me were the well chronicled battles between Petty and the music industry. I knew he was always an advocate for fans, but I never realized just how many times he went to bat against the corporate music biz (and he remains so today, critiquing the radio industry on The Last DJ, getting into hot water over offering free downloads, etc.).

To put it simply, if you're a fan of the music, the documentary is an absolute must. The four-disc set includes a DVD of the Heartbreakers' 30th Anniversary Concert in Gainesville, as well as a CD of rarities and outtakes. Rock on.

Check out the trailer:

And what the hell, here's one of my favorites:

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